Aug 7, 2011

Our City....A City in Transition

I don’t usually do this, but given the change we are seeing in many parts of our City, I thought I would republish the editorial I wrote for the Winter issue of Council’s regular newsletter – Your City. What I enunciated in the editorial is what I experience when we move around the City and talk to our residents. What I wrote was:

For a modern day City, and one that first experienced residential and industrial development in the early years of European settlement of Australia, many would not expect that our City is still a city in transition.

It is. 
It is growing, expanding in new directions.  It is welcoming new residents and keeping in line with residents who have lived in it for decades.

And as a growing and expanding City, ours must constantly adapt, embrace new ideas and new ways of doing things. Our transition is constant – as it should be.

What was acceptable in the 19th or 20th centuries can be neither appropriate nor acceptable in the 21st.

But within the changing face and direction of our City there must be acceptance that while we can adapt to growth and expansion there are physical limitations on what we can do.

Residential settlement was first laid out when motor vehicles were the exception rather than the norm. As a result, two or three car garages, common in new residential area in Sydney, are uncommon in the City. The streets can be narrower, the residential allotments smaller.

In industrial areas, streets and access was originally planned when modern trucking movements were beyond imagination.  Even Jules Verne could not have predicted what we experience today.

Council addresses the pressures and conflicts that arise in transport and parking issues and demand within the constraints of the reality of our physical city. We can’t change that.

What we have to do is match what we have to live with in a physical sense with the aspirations and needs of our residents. Our suburbs are not like low density Castle Hill or other suburban fringe areas.

We are a group of suburbs close to central Sydney and, like other inner city locations, streets and roads can be narrow and congested and parking opportunities difficult to find.

We also have the extra problem cause by the daily influx of people who work in our City.

In new residential developments Council demands sufficient parking for the new residents with some additional spaces for visitors.

In established residential areas (where there were no cars when the houses were first built) we endeavour to skew available parking to residents via parking restrictions and the requirement on new industrial developments to ensure employee parking on site.

But when families living in busy streets have two and sometimes three cars per home, pressures increase and make solutions difficult. We are also working with the State Government to improve public transport.

I find it almost incomprehensible that we have a rail station at Mascot without direct bus access.

We’re having issues with the operation of the Metrobus Route 20, but while we can have dialogue with State Transit, the bus operators, about this we don’t seem to be able to get that organisation to look at bus routes within the City to get to and from the rail station.

To Council that makes clear sense. We’ve got a rail station then let’s have bus services to get residents to and from the rail system. An efficient and safe public transport system would be a viable alternate to road congestion – without even taking into account the environmental benefits.

I understand frustration about road congestion and parking but everyone has to understand, and acknowledge, that we have physical constraints that Council must overcome – and getting the right policy settings from the State Government.

We don’t shirk from addressing the issues – we just need the support of our residents so that our voice is louder and stronger.

We don’t shirk and, in the future, we still won’t.

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