Freo's View

LOCAL COUNCILS CAN’T BE IGNORED FOR PLANNING APPROVALS

 

The new planning approval process proposed by the WA Labor government has some merit, as it will cut through red tape for smaller development applications, such as building a shed, a pergola, etc.

The new legislation will also allow a change of use for premises without the need for local government approval, and that could become a problem. A residential building changing to a cafe, or bar without any input from the community and council having no say in it?

Large project of $ 30 million and more, and of 100 homes or more, would no longer have to go through the local planning process, and the reality is that most large developments are being approved or rejected by JDAP anyway.

While Premier Mark McGowan is right to say that process would be less bureaucratic and less expensive, it is silly spin to say that the approval process through the WA Planning Committee would create better design outcomes. There have been quite a few controversial approvals by state government agencies that did not get the thumbs up from local councils and communities because the developments were deemed to be inappropriate or too large.

It is essential that local councils remain in charge of city planning and the decisions of what is acceptable for character places such as Fremantle. The Premier is a bit too keen on highrise everywhere, for my personal taste.

Roel Loopers

 

 

FREMANTLE MP CALLS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

Posted in city of fremantle, covid-19, federal government, health, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on April 10, 2020

 

Fremantle Federal MP Josh Wilson has called for the Morrison government to change its rules and support local governments, as many of our councils are in financial difficulties because of the Covid-19 crisis, and some might have to let staff go.

Fremantle is losing a lot of revenue because of lack of parking fees and fines, no income from concerts at the arts centre, no income from the Leisure Centre and no income from commercial property leases, etc.

Josh Wilson says:

“Local governments are working to reduce fees, rents, and parking charges to assist households and businesses through this difficult time, and they are delivering new support services for those struggling to deal with self-isolation, especially the elderly. But these changes affect the bottom line for local government, and the mandated closure of many public facilities means both a loss of revenue and the need to stand-down thousands of employees.
 
It makes no sense whatsoever for local government to be excluded from the JobKeeper package. Labor led the push for a wage subsidy in response to the crisis and we support the introduction of the $130 billion package, but it could and should have been broader in its scope. In parliament the government blocked Labor’s amendments, but the parliament has already given the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, the ability to make adjustments and so the exclusion of local government can be repaired at the stroke of his pen.

As it stands there will be millions of Australian workers who will not be provided with decent wage-replacing support, and who will unnecessarily be disconnected from their employing business or organisation. That puts a sharp burden on displaced workers and it means we will not be in the best position to recover when the crisis has past.

Local government is a foundation stone of community services and attractions in the form of libraries, recreation facilities, and broad arts and cultural activities. On the other side of this crisis we will need local government to lead the way in re-opening and rebuilding. The phase we are in now is survival. In the recovery phase local government will be a key partner in delivering projects, services, and events that will create work, attract visitors, support business, and encourage the broader community to get back to an active and engaged life together. But this will be seriously hampered if local government has been unnecessarily smashed and shrunken in the meantime.

 In Cockburn, each month of closure will see Cockburn ARC forgo $1 million in revenue that’s ordinarily used to cover staffing costs. For now, the City of Cockburn is retaining the ARC’s 38 full and part-time staff and 200 casual workers, but that is an almost $1 million commitment that will be shouldered by ratepayers.

In Fremantle, the city will lose almost $700,000 per month in revenue with the closure of the Fremantle Leisure Centre, Fremantle Arts Centre, and loss of lease income where businesses have closed. The jobs of more than 200 Fremantle local government workers are at risk.”

Fremantle senior staff and elected members have agreed on a voluntary 20 per cent pay cut for six months, and while that is appreciated it will make little difference in compensating for the severely decreased revenue of the City.

Roel Loopers

NOT ALL CYCLISTS WANT THE SAME

Posted in bicycles, city of fremantle, city planning, local government, traffic, Uncategorized by freoview on February 24, 2020

 

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Fremantle Council wants Freo to become more bicycle friendly and discourage the use of cars, but when planning new cycle lanes it is important to realise that not all cyclists have the same needs and that city planners need to differentiate, as the Netherlands have been doing for centuries.

Roel Loopers

WHY BAN DEVELOPERS FROM LOCAL COUNCILS?

 

From The Australian

 

The news that the NSW government is drafting amendments to the legislation to ban property developers, real estate agents, and their associates from being elected to local councils is rather outrageous and most likely unconstitutional. No surprise though that there are people in WA who believe we should introduce it here as well

Since when did these professions become illegal activities and make those professionals not proper enough to stand for local government, and why should we stop there? Maybe make architects and builders also the enemies of the community and ban them as well, or anyone who migrated, people from foreign cultures, people who are not blonde and blue-eyed, or just anyone we disagree with.

Real estate agents and developers have the same human rights to vote and be elected as everyone else in our country. As far as I know even outlawed bikies could be elected on local councils or other forms of government.

It is rather remarkable that a government wants to ban those people who invest in developing our communities, because governments have neither the means nor the commitment to build new urban infill and outer suburbs, so why should those who do that not be part of the decision making?

Fremantle had two solid Councillors in Bill Massey and John Alberti, who both are real estate agents, and from my observation neither of them ever abused that position for personal gain. Councillors have the duty to declare a conflict of interest and are excused from participating in the debate and voting when they do so, so there is no reason to ban the professions the NSW government wants to exclude.

It is extremely dangerous to start banning law-abiding people from being elected to government. It is fascism really.

Roel Loopers

CHANGING AUSTRALIA DAY JUST A MINOR ADJUSTMENT

 

I almost fell of my stool and choked on my double espresso yesterday when I saw the front page of the West Australian and read their editorial suggesting it is time to have a discussion about changing the date of Australia Day.

When Fremantle Council changed the date four years ago and stopped the fireworks it was blasted by the West and heavily criticised time and time again in editorials and columns by Paul Murray, so what a nice and positive change of heart for this right-leaning publication.

Contrary to what the West has written, and what some politicians and community members have said, this was never about silly politics by some left-leaning loonies, but only and all about respect for our Aboriginal people and their history, and the huge pain and displacement European settlement brought for them.

Moving Australia Day to another day will not diminish the achievements of the early settlers and it will not change Australia’s history. All it will do is show consideration for those Aboriginese whose families have suffered, whose children were taken away, who were moved on from their communities, and who were severely mistreated and their land taken away. The consequences of that are still felt in Aboriginal communities today.

I don’t believe we can take our history for granted and say Aboriginal people just need to move on and forget about the past, because from the past we can all learn, and we can acknowledge that mistakes were made, without having to feel guilty. Moving forward together by changing Australia Day away from January 26 is just a tiny adjustment for non Aboriginals to make, but it would make a huge difference to very many of our First Nation people.

The West is encouraging a community discussion about it, so let us start one with respect and without polemic and political point scoring.

Roel Loopers

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WE DON’T BUILD COMMUNITIES. WE BUILD PLACES OF ISOLATION

 

There was an interesting panel discussion NO FIXED ADDRESS, to discuss the importance of social housing and building diversity in our urban centres, in the lovely courtyard of DADAA in Fremantle’s Princes May Park, last night with Dr. Mariana Atkins, Research Associate Professor, The Centre for Social Impact, University of Western Australia and the UWA Living Lab, Dr Holly Farley, Research Fellow, Fremantle School of Architecture, The University of Notre Dame Australia, Dr. Shane Greive, Urban and Regional Planning, School of Design and Built Environment, Curtin University, Michael Piu (CEO, St Patrick’s Community Support Centre), and  Heather Thompson (Senior Assertive Outreach Worker, 20 Lives 20 Homes Program, St Patrick’s Community Support Centre).  It was facilitated by Lisette Kaleveld, Senior Consultant, The Centre for Social Impact, University of Western Australia.

Changing cityscapes are inevitable with urban infill making places such as Fremantle desirable, especially since most of the services are provided in town, and that attracts a diversity of people, including homeless ones, and those who require social and affordable housing, but we are not designing and building for that diversity and the needs of individuals. Not many local governments have the capacity and desire to change with the times, so how do you design a city for all?

People want to be connected, be in contact with nature and there is a real disconnect there, so we need to bring the community on board because it is about the collective, not individuals. To do that we need to start understanding the history of Australia and the values, and where we want to go. We need to understand the diverse perspective, and need to learn to understand the different realities. Design should not be about excluding people!

Homelessness is nothing new and has been around for decades, so the whole community needs to own the issues and solutions, but there is a lack of value judgement. It is a fallacy that homeless people are in control of their own future! We all are only a few steps away from homelessness and if we come together the solutions are in our own hands. Start a conversation and humanise the issue!

A social worker said she had met some of the most amazing, caring and resilient people one would like to meet.

Architects and developers need to start actively listen to everybody’s stories from a design perspective. Bring the focus of development back to the people! We need a change of mindset there, as the next generation of home buyers can’t afford to buy the homes of the present generation. Inter-generational housing is not available, the housing options are not there.

There is huge value in diversity in a community, and we don’t want people with similar social/financial issues all living together, there needs to be a mix and we need to understand what home means for different people. Public housing often results in people failing because of the wrong set up and location and the lack of support. For some community housing or a boarding house is better because they don’t have to look after paying bills and connect with others. Community housing is more flexible.

There is also an interesting small exhibition in the DADAA gallery, so go and have a look at it!

COMMENT:

We don’t build communities, we build spaces where people are alone, spaces of loneliness, because at the lower end of the apartment market there are no community spaces where people can connect. There are no swimming pools, gyms, roof gardens, etc. We build highrise along transit corridors, instead of building them around green open spaces where people can meet and play.

There are tens of thousands of single middle aged and older women and men who have no social life because they can no longer afford to go to pubs, concerts, festivals, theatres, etc. where they used to connect with friends and meet new people. They don’t meet anyone and get isolated. High density living does not cater for that by providing community spaces. Many single people live in a small box with no communical spaces where they can meet their neighbours and make new friends that way.

Roel Loopers

CITIZENSHIP DRESS CODE IS UNAUSTRALIAN

 

citizenship, tiff

 

The directions from the Federal Government to local councils to make the Australia Day citizenship ceremonies more formal and enforce a dress code are as ridiculous as they are un-Australian.

Australians are loved around the world for their daggy dress sense, and that is understandable when one knows that thongs, ugg boots and singlets are considered fashion items in the land down under.

A citizenship ceremony is not about dress code or formality, but all about new Australians committing themselves to their new country, and as an immigrant myself I know what a big step that is to take, and even more when one loses the  passport from one’s birth country, as I did.

Becoming a new Australian is showing acceptance of one’s new home and culture and it is a very proud moment to receive the citizenship certificate from the mayor. It is wanting to be part of the nation, being allowed to vote and being eligible to stand for local, state and federal government. It is not only a privilege to become an Australian, but also a strong commitment.

Many people turn up at the ceremonies in dresses, shirts or T-shirts made out of the Australian flag, and others turn up in their national dress from their birth country. Some come in shorts, and why not on a stinking hot day in a country where boardies are the norm.

There is no disrespect in dressing who we are and what reflects our personality, and it is nonsense to believe people will turn up in formal wear to become citizens of a country that prides itself on freedom of choice.

Only three more weeks till Australia Day, and I am looking forward to being at the Fremantle ceremony, although we will celebrate our city’s diversity at the ONE DAY event a couple of days later.

And ‘well done’ again TRANSPERTH for closing the Fremantle line from January 27-30 at night, after the 7.55pm train to Perth. All those who want to come to the One Day concert on the Esplanade will now have to hop on buses. Our WA public transport authorities closed the Freo train line a few years in a row during the Fremantle Street Festival as well. Very inconsiderate!

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE NEEDS MORE CREATIVE ARCHITECTURE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, city planning, development, Uncategorized by freoview on December 30, 2019

 

 

I am a rather simple and modest kind of old fella who does not have too many wishes for the New Year. A bit more money would be good, and having a lot of very gorgeous women throwing themselves at me would be nice too, but I know that won’t happen, so I’ll just keep living within the limitations of reality. What could improve though is what we build in our cities.

I would love to see a lot more creative architecture in Fremantle and the entire Perth metropolitan area, because the blandness and mediocrity of most of the new modern buildings we are getting is very disappointing, hence these inspiring photos from around the world, and I am sure there are many more examples of what great architecture could look like.

Roel Loopers

LOCAL GOVERNMENT A STRANGE BEAST

Posted in city of cockburn, city of fremantle, employment, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on November 11, 2019

 

Sometimes I don’t get how local government works, as is the case with the request for rent reduction by Evergreen Golf Pty LTD, which manages the Fremantle public golf course.

Only on June 26 this year Council agreed to accept the offer of another ten-year lease for the golf course to the company, but on Wednesday, just half a year later, the FPOL Committee will decide to give Evergreen Golf a 50% rent reduction because of the impact the High Street Project by Main Roads has on the operation of the golf course and the alleged considerable drop in patronage.

The City sees itself as a conduit between the course operators and MRWA and will try to get the money they are losing back, but it makes little sense to me. Why ask for rent reduction six months after getting a new lease approved and why should the City of Fremantle take the financial risk instead of waiting for the outcome of the negotiations with MRWA?

Down the road our southern neighbours in the City of Cockburn gave their CEO a new four-year contract only six weeks ago, but he suddenly went on indefinite sick leave because the City of Cockburn has not provided him with a safe working place. Really, sign a new contract with an employer who does not provide a safe working environment? How strange is that.

Maybe all Mayor Logan Howlett and Council should do is give their CEO a hardhat, safety glasses and steelcap boots, like FiFo workers on far more dangerous mine sites get.

Local Government is sometimes a Yes Minister comedy it seems.

Roel Loopers

VISIT FREMANTLE, EVEN WHEN IT IS MELVILLE

Posted in city of fremantle, local government, marketing, PR,, Uncategorized by freoview on October 20, 2019

 

I thought I was pretty on the ball and well informed but I must have totally missed a more recent council amalgamation. On Facebook this morning VISIT FREMANTLE gushes about  the Top Dup Donuts shop in Willagee, but I believed Willagee was in the City of Melville.

Yesterday a letter writer from Palmyra complained in the Fremantle Herald, what is happening to our city. He meant Fremantle and is clearly not aware that he lives in Melville.

I am all for a bigger Fremantle and local government reform, but until that happens Visit Fremantle should really promote Freo businesses.

Roel Loopers

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