Monday, 17 March 2014

We Oppose Forced Amalgamation

After four hundred people attended a meeting at South Perth Town Hall it is very clear that the residents of South Perth are upset.

Our City and Victoria Park have shared amenities for years. We were negotiating for closer bonds before the Minister was even elected to Parliament. He could have stood back and enjoyed the clapping. By jumping in, moving to abolish South Perth and excise Burswood he’s been like a pigeon in a chess tournament, knocking the pieces over, messing on the board and strutting as if he won the match.

It’s just not good enough. We believe that residents and their elected Councils can make the best decisions about the economy, community and environment for sustainable Local Government. Residents of Western Australia respectfully oppose any action by the State Government to force amalgamation of Local Governments. We also oppose forced abolition of Councils and forced changes of boundaries. We support strongly the right of residents and their elected Councils to decide for themselves about matters related to amalgamations, boundary changes and sharing of services.

To add your voice to the on-line petition just click here

To add your voice to this blog just click on Comments, below.


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Abolishing the City of South Perth & Australia Day 2014 Photos

Goodbye South Perth? This sneaky proposal by the Minister seeks to avoid having to get our approval for change. The Minister for Local Government proposes:

“To change the current boundaries of the district of the Town of Victoria Park by (a) abolishing the current district of the City of South Perth (b) amending the boundaries of the district of the Town of Victoria Park to include within it the land of the current district of the City of South Perth.” For details click Minister's Proposal.

For more about the process and to make your submission Click Here. The Councils of South Perth and Victoria Park have made a joint submission, based mainly around opposing the Minister’s slicing off the Burswood Peninsular, removing the combined City’s biggest rate payers, gifting them to Perth CBD. Here are details of the Joint Response.

Should we be submitting our ideas on what we want from Local Government, why we have it and what it could do? Surely it’s more than just size that matters? Have your say on the Department’s web site or click on Comments, below, or just email me and I’ll get your words submitted.

Australia Day 2014 on the South Perth riverbank was just wonderful. Happy volunteers, inspired performers and a cheery crowd made the day memorable. We really have changed the way we celebrate the day. I saw smiles all around and felt a buzz of positive conversation everywhere. Here are links to three of my photo albums from the day:

For those who missed last year, here’s the 2013 album

Please contribute your thoughts by clicking on Comments, below. Just log in as Name or Anonymous, or email me.

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Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Bollywood at the Cygnet

More new life at the Cygnet in Como! Bollywood movies on a Saturday or Sunday morning from early February.

In recent months Graham Kahn, the Manager, has installed a really good digital projector and funding was obtained for heritage restoration works. There is still a lot to be done to preserve this gem while the owners build offices and apartments next door.

Built in 1939, our beloved Cygnet is a beautiful example of Art Deco architecture. My friends, Don and Pam, tell me of romantic memories of younger days at our local cinema. In those times there was an outdoor show too. You can still see the projection window high on a rear wall.

Perth’s new Cultural Centre in Northbridge will be built around the Museum of the Indian Ocean, with links to Mumbai, Dubai, Jakarta, Mauritius and much more. Meanwhile, here in South Perth we are connecting with the Bollywood culture of India, a home to many of our students in WA. The energy behind these ideas is spreading and will go far to preserve the Cygnet, a link across generations and cultures.

We are working to preserve and safeguard this grand building, its ghosts, its dreams and its future. We’ll need a mix of support from governments, corporate and private sources. What other groups can call the Cygnet their home, can share their spirit here on stage and screen?

Watch this space for more details.

Please contribute your thoughts by clicking on Comments, below. Just log in as Name or Anonymous, or email me.

This page sponsored by DATA365, specialists in data recovery from crashed hard disks.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Silver Screen Heroes

Stardust sparkled in Como this week. A little crowd was thrilled to enjoy the first digital movie at our beloved Cygnet Cinema. It happened because Graham Kahn, the Manager, used his own money to snap up the digital equipment when Perth’s Piccadilly Cinema closed down.

Built in 1938, with gorgeous Art Deco design, the Cygnet has survived many risky moments. During the 1960s and 70s much of old Perth was demolished, in the modernising rush of another mining boom. Local developers have often aspired to build commercial premises over the bones of the Cygnet’s location. More recently the Art Deco Society, inspired by Vyonne Geneve and others, succeeded in having the cinema listed on the State Heritage Register, bringing some formal protection.

Upstairs, in the projector room, there’s some new electronic wizardry. An NEC projector accepts digital files that arrive on a disk. The only sound is from a fan that cools the projector lamp. The 35 mm reels stand idle. There’s no more chatter from the wheels and drives that used to bring up the movie strips, frame by frame. Projectionists will never again experience that rush of panic as tens of metres of celluloid spool onto the floor in a mis-feed moment.

After the show there were lots of comments about the magical quality of digital sound and clear movie vision. It was a little surreal to enjoy this in the plush comfort of beautifully kept, classical cinema seats. Chris Simmons, helping with the installation, glowed with pride when he showed off the system. Chris has worked in thirty five cinemas and lives the dream of the silver screen.

There’s more work to be done of course. The owners are still faced with a large maintenance and renovation task. However, once again, a creative coalition of local people has made a difference around here. Through the energy and imagination of some special people and inspired groups our cinema will bring joy to many for years to come.

When I want to step away into dreamland for a little while, to enjoy a magical moment, you’ll find me at the Cygnet. Are you doing anything tonight?

You can add your comments below or email me and I’ll add them for you.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Mill Point Directions

Where is Mill Point going? Do you have some thoughts to add? Here are some of my starting points. I’d welcome your additions to a public conversation. Click “Comments” below to publish your ideas.

1. Public transport: Our metro region has become choked with car traffic. I strongly support much greater use of well planned, safe and reliable public transport. This should include our arterial heavy rail system, light rail, or a rubber-tyred equivalent, feeder lines, local bus networks and cycle ways separated for safety from vehicle traffic. In the South Perth area I have suggested and actively promote a shuttle bus between Canning Bridge station and Perth Zoo. I have promoted additional work to move the bus interchange off Canning Bridge for better safety and connectedness with train services. With large expansion of Curtin Uni this will become more important. An extended ferry service to Barrack Street is also on my long-standing list of objectives.

2. Development of the Mill area of the peninsula: The Old Mill is one of very few remnants of WA’s early colonial history. The mill also links both colonial and indigenous histories through events in early days. Its maintenance is a vital link with the past. Such maintenance is expensive; a new front door recently cost seventy five thousand dollars. I support commitment to maintenance of the mill and its associated heritage displays. Heritage exhibitions could be enhanced with the recently refurbished old tram. I do not believe that the community would feel good about building a “theme park” in this area so I don’t support that idea.

Geography, both natural and constructed, of the Point area suggests that large scale public facilities here would cause unwelcome traffic congestion. Therefore my vision for the Mill Point is for low-impact development that respects the community wishes while giving some focus to our early history.

3. Use of Richardson Park: The park and associated facilities for cricket and hockey are much appreciated by the residents and visitors to South Perth. Even people who do not participate in these sports appreciate the existence of the park. Several years ago I developed and moved the Motion on Council that approved funding for the now-successful redevelopment of the clubhouse facilities. Commercial developments of the area between Richardson St and the freeway on-ramp, development of the Civic Triangle behind the Post Office and a possible train station will place pressure for developments on the park. These should be resisted and our open spaces protected. When these real estate developments proceed the park will be of ever-greater value to the community.

4. Development of the Mends St jetty area: I do support enhancement of Mends Street. I do support low-impact development of the jetty area but not beyond the scale and style of what currently exists. The photo at the top of this note illustrates the contrast between the commercial development of Perth’s CBD and the open space of South Perth. We need both styles of facility in our city; both enrich our community in different ways and both are essential. I support preservation of our open spaces and low-impact development of community facilities here.

5. Use of Mends St: Perth Zoo attracts six hundred thousand visitors a year. Six hundred thousand cycle trips are made along the South Perth foreshore each year, many or most passing the end of Mends Street. The street is the focus of a number of transport routes. Usage of this precinct will become more intense when the Civic Triangle development proceeds. The already-approved amendments to the Town Planning Scheme for the Judd-Richardson-Labouchere precinct will further add to the likely popularity of Mends Street. One of the roles of local councillors will be to help balance the commercial pressures with the need to ensure the amenity of local residents.

6. Telstra Phone Tower: Council will soon vote on approval for a phone tower on Coode Street in Sir James Mitchell Park. You can contact me to pick up a written petition against this or you can click here for a on-line petition. The Swan River foreshore is part of our City’s soul. A phone tower here would be a spike in its heart.

I do volunteer work for the community nearly every day of the year, not just at election time. Only 31% of people vote so your vote makes a difference. Please consider giving me your vote so I can do more for you, your friends and your family.

You are welcome to call or to knock on my door in Angelo Street at any time. You are also welcome to add comments below, or email me, so we can all benefit from your wisdom and vision. (Just log in as Name or Anonymous if you like.)

Monday, 5 August 2013

Saving the Cygnet Cinema

The Cygnet Cinema needs our help. Built in 1938 by Jimmy Stiles, this Art Deco treasure has delighted our families for years. Graham, the manager, tells me that we are at the end of the road for celluloid film strips; it’s all going digital. Lots of us have talked about this for a few years. Now it’s time we got active to protect this wonder to enjoy it in the future. Will you help too, please?

To catch up on the conversation so far you can click on these links to my previous blogs:

2010 Cygnet Cinema Shines

2011 Preston Street  For Dinner

2012 Our Own  Future, Yes Please

2013 Save the Cygnet Cinema

Lots of people have joined the conversation. Here’s what they say. First off: before anything, what is our purpose? Perhaps it is to obtain and provide a digital projector. Tony Barber, a really good accountant, says that we should form an Incorporated Body, with a constitution. Then, my friends at the Institute of Company Directors say that we should form a Board of community representatives to manage governance. This is other people’s money after all. Would five be about the right number? Who should they be?

Tony and a local lawyer suggest that the body, not the cinema owners, should own the equipment. There would be other words about ultimate disposal and safeguards. We had a talk about charitable status and tax deductibility and concluded that was pretty unlikely.

Along the way I found two local suppliers of this digital equipment, so there’d be competitive pricing. One of the roles of the Board would be selecting a supplier. Costs are likely to be between fifty and one hundred thousand dollars. Management of funds would be the major responsibility in early stages. A continuing role would be the relationship with the owners, the Stiles family. I expect that contributions would come in both large and small sizes. We could use internet ‘crowd-funding’ to gather wide community support.

Suggested steps (please comment below):

  • meet at the Cygnet Esther Girls coffee shop
  • form a group, with a name and a purpose
  • meet with owners (regularly)
  • obtain price quotes
  • write a constitution with safeguards
  • register an Incorporated Body
  • set up a single-purpose account
  • seek commitments and deposits
  • (funds returned if no action taken)
  • obtain equipment
  • arrange with owners re installation

Graham, the manager, says that December will see the closure of the Cygnet if we can’t find a way through this. If we do nothing the Cygnet will crumble in neglect. With your help it will shine.

Please add comments below, or email me, so we can all benefit from your wisdom and vision.


Bicycle trips per year on South Perth foreshore: 600,000 +

Bicycle trips per year on Freeway bike path: one million +


Monday, 8 July 2013

Foreshore Futures

We love our city and we really love our foreshore. That’s what the walkers, cyclists, families, dog walkers, picnickers and park visitors say. Now the Council is asking us what to do to make it even better.

There’s an info session on 17 July at 6 p.m. at the Community Hall in South Terrace. There’s a web page to find out more and submit your ideas. (Click here)

This is where the Wadjuk clan of the Noongar people camped, fished and lived in summer time for millennia. They called the river Derbal Yerrigan. Since white settlement in 1829 much has changed. During the 1890s gold rush days Perth grew rapidly. That’s when the State was proclaimed, many famous buildings were erected, sports clubs begun and engineering changed the landscape. That’s also when Chinese gardeners set up in South Perth, helping to feed the hungry settlement. The Black Swan dredge made a channel from Barrack Street on the north to Mends Street in South Perth, dumping sludge that formed the base of what’s now Sir James Mitchell Park.

Later the Kensington Park track area was developed here for horse racing. You can still see the shape of the track in Google Earth. In the 1920s racing moved to Belmont and the track was used for joy flights. Meanwhile a lot of building rubble and household rubbish was dumped on the river bank. Over time the area filled with more dredged silt, rubbish and some unpleasant chemicals. The surface was eventually levelled and the park built on top of it all.

Today it’s a beautifully open space with spectacular views. Nearby is Perth Zoo, WA’s biggest tourist attraction. The new cycle path is really popular. Our annual Australia Day celebration is the best in Australia. New immigrants and old families share the park, living the “Aussie lifestyle.”

Every year the South Perth Council spends over a million dollars maintaining the park. In recent years storms have broken the river walls and flooded the park edges. Groundwater level is at the same elevation as the river water and sits just below the grass roots. Our local sea level has been rising about 3mm a year. That could give us about thirty years until parts of the park are under water. Meanwhile the groundwater flow is flushing fertiliser and some toxins into the river, threatening fish and dolphins.

My dream is that we can:

· Protect the park that we love

· Defend the open space that we share with each other

· Preserve what we value

· Plan for a future so others will enjoy the foreshore just as much

Some things that that people have suggested we might talk about at the info evening are to:

· Use “soft engineering” to dissipate wave energy

· Improve public transport for easier access

· Use digital maps to define likely water flooding limits

· Design new facilities to allow for high water or to be moved or raised later

· Increase the barbecue and picnic facilities

· Possibly allow some small commercial facilities near the foreshore

· Reduce the City’s risk by identifying water level hazard in approvals

· Work together with other Councils to manage the river and riverbanks, with shared strategies, budgets and lobbying power

· Allow public access to data on river and park analyses, costs and usage

· Find ways to reduce our emissions in groundwater and air

· Find ways to provide more shade trees while protecting great views

· Construct more separate cycle and walk paths

· Protect and improve nesting areas for swans and other birds

· Encourage dog exercisers while protecting walkers and wildlife

· Preserve the areas of heavy use while applying less water and fertiliser on less-used parts of the park

What are your thoughts? Got some ideas? Click on Comments, below, or email me. See you on 17 July.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Goodbye Old TV

Farewell my old screen. We’ve seen a lot together. Through summers of cricket, midnight drama, doco’s about trips I wish I’d done and more I still might do, we shared some life together. This is an emotional parting. Well, it is for me; I sometimes wondered about you. You didn’t even cry when we heard they’d privatise the ABC. Now your time was up and you had to go.

We took you off to the City’s Transfer Station in Thelma Street. A nice man called Tom was gentle with you as he layed you in the “e-Waste” bin. Tom whispered that they’d strip you down and send your bits to be used again. I guess that means you’ll live forever. (Actually, Tom likes a bit of a chat.) He and his mate Miles are on permanent weekend duty, just to help you on your way.

Right next to your cool, blue bin were more for batteries, light tubes, computers and other clever things. Tom told us how they even extract the gas from fridges so it doesn’t sneak out into the air. Something about ozone, I think he said. Pretty smart, really. It seems that all those techie things are really useful but have some not-very-nice stuff inside them.

Hey, there was even a big bin for matrasses. Tom says they shred ‘em and recycle the springs, plastic and bits. It turns out that our old sleep mates are a bit of a problem if they just bury ‘em with all our other waste; they float up through the soil. Funny, old tyres do that too. They’re not nice on the verge anyway.

Tom says to let all those people know that he and his mate Miles really want you to drop your electronic bitz in for recycling. He’s a bit passionate about folks doing the right thing is Tom.

Thanks for the good times old friend.

You can say farewell to my old TV, or whatever, by clicking on “Comments” below. To see where you can take your much-loved old TV, computer or favourite fridge, at a place near you, click here. Oh and hey, you can donate your old phone too; just click here.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Community Grants

Like some money for your favourite project? Here are two fresh opportunities to get some.

The Keep Australia Beautiful Beverage Container Recycling Grants  for local communities wishing to improve beverage container recycling at for one/off public events or occasions. The focus is on:

  • recycling away from home
  • practical projects that leave a legacy
  • projects that don’t duplicate existing recycling activities
  • projects that result in measurable volumes of recycled materials

Last year they awarded grants for cleaning up shorelines, community education, Council projects and more. Grants are for up to $10,000. The total available is over $400,000.


The RAC Grass Roots Grants provides up to $2,000 to not-for-profit community groups to support initiatives that will have a positive impact and strengthen local communities. The RAC will support initiatives where there is an opportunity to raise awareness or educate the community on ways to deliver a better world of mobility. Applications close on 20 May, 5 August and 28 October 2013


Got some ideas? Like to connect with others to make a project happen? Click on Comments, below, or email me.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

South Perth: Behind the News

Hello South Perth. Here are some items not in the news recently.

  • Gum trees cut down on the slope overlooking the South Perth foreshore. Is it OK to destroy trees?

    Sydney Council has a nine page policy on Tree Management. It includes “The city will assess all trees proposed for removal in public or PRIVATE property… “ and  “The retention of significant trees is a priority” and  “Removal will not be permitted to facilitate views.” Why don’t we have a strong tree policy in South Perth?

  • Councillors voted to limit development of Manning Hub commercial facilities to two stories. After years of planning and consultation this probably means that the project will not be as economically viable. Once again a group of Manning and Salters Point residents and their Councillors have stopped development of their own community. The motion was also supported by one of the Como Beach Ward Councillors, who actually lives in Riverton, and campaigned on a platform that he would “Stop Change” around here.

  • Designs for the Manning Community Centre were approved this month.

    Click here to see the layout for the Library, Hall, Child Health Clinic, Moorditj Keila Centre, Early Childhood facility and sporting club rooms. I really like this and am pleased to have been part of making this happen.
  • Lyndon Lewis was recognised in the Australia Day honours for his magnificent contributions to riverbank restoration at Salters Point. See previous blog. Lyndon has been inspirational in his contributions to riverbank restoration.

  • Preston Street and Angelo Street traders are putting life into their patch: sidewalk dining, street markets in Fiesta, Friday barbecues, new business.
  • Meanwhile in Mends Street the residents and traders want to stop development above a car park, while yet more shops close down. The Mill Point Councillor who organised protest meetings walked out of the Council meeting before debate began on the matter, to attend “another event.“
  • Note to Council- how about just painting the City’s Mends Street car park surface blue and offering the first hour free?
  • Councillors once again enjoyed free food and wine in a fenced area in the middle of the Fiesta concert seating. Some embarrassing behaviours might have occurred. Let’s just get rid of this indulgence and let Councillors sit with the rest of us.
  • Local businesses are planning for ways to make use of the NBN Broadband services that are being installed now. Pippy Poodle Pet Minders and Dog Walkers are not the biggest but they have the spirit. Even big businesses need small services. A number of new businesses with fresh ideas are planning to take advantage of fast data.
  • It is hard work being an effective Councillor. At least twenty hours a week is what it takes. That is, if you actually turn up to briefing sessions and meetings. Some Councillors are always there to listen to details and discuss ideas. Some who opposed the Manning development, and others, are perhaps not so good at this. My admiration goes to our Councillors who do put in so much of their own time, energy and emotion.
    See this link for “
    So You Want to be a Councillor.”
  • South Perth Bicycle User Group has been active in promoting better paths across our City. There’s a new cycle link along Henley Street for easier riding between the Canning Bridge train station and Curtin University. The Uni has installed lock-up pods and new pathways too.
  • The recent blog on the Cygnet Cinema drew lots of interest. The Mayor, Sue Doherty, has been meeting with the owners, the operators and others to ensure that this gem is enjoyed by our community for many years ahead. It’s far from certain yet, and thank you to all who have volunteered their support. More news soon.
  • Councillors voted to conduct yet another study into allowing the public to view details of planning applications. In Melbourne and other WA Councils it is normal practice to make details available on-line Click here for details. Please get on with it.
  • Note to Council- Please do not make this a City for Cars. Please do design our City so that pedestrians and cyclists have priority, then Public Transport, then cars. My dream is for a city where it is safe and pleasant to walk and cycle. Residents of Como can click here to have their say about traffic development ideas for their suburb.
  • Please do consider reducing the car parking requirements, so that the average number of parking bays per unit can be less than two and so some apartments can have Zero parking if owners want to. Please reduce the parking requirements for commercial from 1/20 to 1/25 or less to encourage less cars parked around here. Please keep the pressure on for better public transport too. Melbourne and Sydney are well along this path.
  • If some of these things matter to you, would you consider standing for Council in the October elections this year?
  • As usual, please click ‘Comments’ below to add your thoughts. Just log in as “Name” (no password required) or email me and I’ll publish your words right here.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Save the Cygnet Cinema

The Cygnet Cinema may soon have to close its doors. One of the few remaining Art Deco cinemas in Australia, the Cygnet uses 35 mm film. In short months distribution of this medium will cease as the digital world takes over. The Mayor of South Perth, Sue Doherty, has met with the manager, Graham Kahn to discuss the future of this beautifully designed heritage building. In this picture are strips of celluloid film and the old projectors, still working.

Western Australia has preserved more Art Deco cinemas than has any other State. The Art Deco Society, with fierce spirit, has helped keep such gems as the Astor, Windsor, Piccadilly and the Regal. Our WA National Trust Art Deco committee has supported this work. Lynn MacLaren, our South Metro Upper House member from The Greens has been promoting strongly the preservation of our heritage buildings and ways of funding this.

The Stiles family, owners of the building, have presented some exciting ideas for keeping the business going. These include keeping the facade, foyer and main hall while developing mini digital cinemas and a restaurant. See my blog of 2010 for details. Here’s an artistic impression of what might be possible.

For the past few years I’ve been working with Preston Street business owners to bring the street to life. We have some brilliant little restaurants, with views to the river at sunset. The tavern is fresh and lively, just the spot for a chat and dinner. We have a really good butchery and imaginative shops. The City has been involved as part of developing a city-wide Economic Development strategy, a key topic of mine in this blog and at Council over many years.

Quite a lot of locals like Lynn MacLaren's idea of working with the owners, the Art Deco Society, the Council and the State to develop a Friends of the Cygnet group. A key aim would be to help fund the change from 35 mm film to digital technology. Perhaps we can put forward a modest membership fee in advance and in return receive admission to shows and events. Restaurant owners like the idea of a “movie and dinner” deal to liven the street at night.

I’d be really very happy to feel that we had all been part of saving the Cygnet. That achievement would be a little more of the ‘glue’ that holds us together. What do you think? Click on Comments below.

Please forward this to as many people as possible. Together we can make it happen.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Australia Day 2013, South Perth

The best Australia Day ever! Lots of people said so. Two hundred volunteers, a big crowd, from all over the planet, a trusting, positive, friendly atmosphere, absolutely no rubbish at all, smiles everywhere and a fabulous fireworks finale. I really like the way that it has become better every year, partly due to the power of volunteers. Thank you to everyone who was there. You make a difference!

The pictures tell the story. For a whole album of 118 photos you can find it on Facebook (just click and scroll) or click here for a web gallery (zoom for bigger display). Feel free to 'Tag' yourself and your friends and click on Share or Like. There are quite a lot of other photos that I didn't upload, available free to your group.

For me Australia Day in South Perth was inspirational. My volunteering task was great fun. I walked the entire shore length many times, welcoming residents and visitors, handing out event guides. That’s been my role every year. I love a chat and look forward to it.

I hope you had a fabulous day too. How was it? How are we ever going to improve on this? Comments?

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Our Own Future: Yes Please!

Not just “me too!” Not just like the suburb next door. Not just another dormitory with a big box full of cheap shops. The idea horrifies me. This place is unique; let’s plan for a unique future. Let’s look to the needs of today’s residents and of those fifty years hence.

In South Perth we already see six hundred thousand visitors to the zoo each year, and this even with no rail station. Fresh, exciting plans show development of the Civic Triangle around the Post Office, with community facilities, offices and a residential spire with views to east and west. Nearby landowners want to get this patch moving, with coherent planning. Completion of the rail station will let this happen, and without more traffic too.

Recently I’ve seen architect’s plans for Mill Point, with a cultural museum featuring both Noongar and Colonial history, cycle facilities, coffee shop, a restaurant on the river bank, a marina facing UWA, a zip-slide ride down from Kings Park and careful preservation of the historic Old Mill. Perhaps we really can have a small but significant focus on Tourism. Some people even speak of a recreational area on Sir James Mitchell Park, akin to Brisbane’s Southbank.

For real imagination let’s look at who we are. South Perth has a large proportion of educated people, professional and managerial employees and business owners, a huge range of multi-lingual residents and proximity to the freeway, the rail line, light rail, three universities and the Fiona Stanley medical precinct plus links to the National Broadband Network, being installed right now. Surely this suggests that we can promote a much more knowledge-intensive economy.

With more intense zoning and development in areas such as at South Perth Station and Canning Bridge there is opportunity for Tri-generation energy (click) sources. These would reduce energy consumption, diminish greenhouse gas emissions and save money.  Tri-generation involves building a small gas turbine to generate electricity, using the surplus heat piped around the precinct to run air conditioning and floor heating, while maintaining a connection to the power grid only for emergencies. Lots of other ideas link with this, including grouped solar panels, smart glass, reduced energy transmission losses and co-operative design. This is already being done by Sydney’s CBD.

Preston Street is in a beautiful location but is drowning in Beige. Street art, sidewalk cafés, creative art fashion could thrive here. The business owners are keen but uncertain of Council support. Colin Stiles, owner of the Cygnet Theatre (click) says he’d like to propose imaginative projects but fears that Council would reject them. The restaurant owners too want to get the streetside busy.

Karawara is presently dominated by students, low-rent and social housing. Surely with its proximity to Curtin Uni, Bentley Tech Park and the Pawsey Centre it can be developed as a hub in the knowledge economy. Already Curtin University has exciting plans that include links with surrounding suburbs (click for the link).

Manning and Salter Point have been left behind. Here our population is especially diverse. We have very many people in older, rental places and who really deserve to share in the City’s future. There are numerous Noongar people who provide a link with the long and deep history of our riverbank City. More recent arrivals have built large and costly houses and would also like to feel part of a connected community. The Manning Hub development, which we’ve worked on for about six years, can be a place where all can share the library, sports facilities, shops, meeting places and conversation. Let’s keep this project moving.

Trains now run frequently between Canning Bridge and the City and mean that it is entirely possible for a person to get from their Como home office to a client’s City office more rapidly than they could from another City location. This means that we can already think of South Perth as an extension of the CBD; Similarly we have rapid links with Fiona Stanley Medical precinct and Curtin Uni. With Light Rail as well we can link east and west too.

We could benefit from development of intense, physically small but economically large business centres with diverse services available. Right next to Canning Bridge and South Perth Stations would be ideal.

South Perth has quite a lot of land occupied by large soakage pits. If these were filled with porous, strong cells we could build on top of them, providing land for community and commercial facilities such as medical centres, crèches, sports centres and gyms, etcetera. In total this is valuable land going unused. We’ve already done this in Angelo Street where the car park is constructed over one of these pits, while it still works for rain water to recharge our aquifer.

About two thousand home businesses exist in the City. Some of these are small; others are huge. All Black and Decker tools distribution in WA ran for years from a home garage with internet connection. Many other quite large import and distribution businesses, design firms, games designers and data specialist operate from deceptively small home bases. These are often multi-million dollar operations. Such businesses need a very different support than that required by retail shops. Clustering of people with ideas always brings yet more imagination. Is it something in the air?

Through all these ideas there’s a common thread of the unique riverside environment we share. People worldwide like to live and work in a place that they enjoy and value. The rivers deserve our very best loving care.

Our weakness has been that we’ve usually planned for what we already have. Let’s look beyond today. I believe that we can step onwards from here to build a truly exciting future if we plan for the City that we imagine for the future.

Let’s get on with it. What are your thoughts? Click on Comments below.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Good People Doing Amazingly Good Things

Gee I love where I live. Here’s some of what’s been going on recently and more about events happening soon..

Neighbours looking after each other. Our Neighbourhood Watch group promotes this every day. You can help too. Click here to find out more

Last weekend the Moordij Keila group and Lifestreams Church celebrated the opening of their new meeting place in Karawara.

There’s been a fair bit of sweat, a lot of humour and  people making new friends at the Community Garden.!/groups/McDougallPark

Just yesterday the Mosaic Group and the Craft people held a stunning Open Day. There were happy potters, whimsical painters, detailed lacemakers, skilled bookbinders and much more. Here’s one of the works:

Forthcoming Events:

Canning Bridge Structure Plan Community Workshop:  The latest on what’s happening and an opportunity to be part of the conversation about our City’s future.

The next community workshop for the Canning Bridge Structure Plan will focus on a series of options for the Structure Plan. Conference Room, City of Melville Civic Centre, 10 Almondbury Road, Booragoon, 6-9pm, Thursday 22 November, Contact: City of Melville 1300 635 845 or City of South Perth 9474 0777

Manning Community Hub: Residents deserve to have some of the wealth of South Perth directed to this end of town also. We've worked hard for years to renew the tired old Manning Hub. Hundreds of residents, all the shop owners and nearby businesses have been involved in the progress of this plan. In response to lots of consultation the plans have been improved several times. The centre will have new sports exercise facilities and change rooms, clean meeting spaces, fresh shops, a library,  parking and a Town Square for community events. The visual impact will be gentle. Very many residents, some Councillors and several community groups have brought this exciting centre to the stage where it's about to happen. It's so much better to be part of the group, not shouting from over the road. Come and join us while we make this place better for our today and our children’s tomorrow.

Public meeting Monday, 26 November at the Manning Community Hall. Please come along to make sure this goes ahead before Council amalgamation puts a stop to it.

Centre plans to be seen here

Thank you everybody who’s done something for others this week.

Have your say. Click on Comments below. (Comments are now open but offensive material will be removed.)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Taking Back Local Authority

The State Government has ripped our local voices away. The big decisions about what gets built in our WA communities are now taken by appointed Panels of five people, with only two of them Councillors elected by us. And wait, it gets worse! The local Council briefs to the panels are prepared without any input from our Councillors. And there’s more! The two representatives are not even required to give the opinion of their Council, and can say just give their own views.

Any development in WA with a value of more than $7million ($15million in the City of Perth) must go to a Panel for permission to proceed. They bypass the Council. Additionally, any applicant with a project over $3million ($10million in City of Perth) can just go straight to the Panel, again bypassing the Council.

It’s time we did something about this. Let’s take back some strength for our local voices. There are things our Councils can do.

Council’s elected members give some of their decision-making roles over to the employed staff. This is called Delegated Authority and gives the power to process the thousands of procedural matters over to employees with the appropriate skills and training. Only when matters are large, contentious or in dispute do these decisions actually come to the elected members.

There are two steps that Councils could take to strongly influence the way the local area develops. Elected members might not always realise it but they have the power to withdraw Delegated Authority. Council can take back this authority and require briefing papers for the Development Assessment Panels (DAPs) to be prepared jointly with our elected members. Next, Councils can insist that their two minority representatives speak on behalf of the Council, not as individuals.

This way we can ensure that our community voice is stronger and is heard. I know Julie Matheson in Subiaco Council has a similar view and that many Councils are feeling powerless. Do you support this? Are there other actions to keep our Councils strong? Can we still have a say in what happens around here? Click on Comments below. (Comments are now open but offensive material will be removed.)