Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Polling the Neighbourhood, Part 1.

Back to the languishing blog. Apologies to all who expected this post weeks ago, unfortunately technology was working against me. This post is huge as there was quite a bit that people had to say about the area so I am putting it into two parts. This is part one.

During the time since my last post I have taken the opportunity to speak to people in and around my neighbourhood, asking them their thoughts on the goings on out here in the Bentley Park, Edmonton area.

The overwhelming response was essentially "What goings on?" as it appears that most residents are of the belief that not much of anything is happening right now with the Sugarworld development the only obvious exception.

The GP Super Clinic is still a sea of grass, the Town Centre sign is back up but most residents are aware that it will be years before work begins on that particular site. The leisure centre is seen as a project that has permanently been 'mothballed' and the end of Logomier Road is still a dirt track.

Residents were unaware that the Leisure Centre received a reprieve from the State Government and will be one of only two cyclone shelters built in the region. They did not know that the consultation process regarding the outdoor sports fields on the site is being undertaken shortly and several were completely unaware that a facility for sport was being considered at all.

Guess it just goes to show that informing the public is a difficult process and more needs to be done to ensure residents know what is happening in the own backyard. It's actually not that hard but it does take some effort. Rob Pyne and Curtis Pitt appear to be doing the best job of informing the residents of what is happening in their community as almost all I spoke to knew what stage the Mt Sheridan Plaza development was at thanks to Rob Pyne's efforts and they were all aware that Curtis is lobbying for Wright's Creek Bridge to be allocated funding for an overhaul. Those two things mean nothing to most of Cairns but in the specific areas they affect, they are extremely important.

Those two examples take a great deal of time and effort to engage in the community and it works.

As for the GP Super Clinic, I recently ran into Jim Turnour who was the force behind the deal and he was very disappointed that work has not yet commenced on site. That being the case I assumed it meant that work should have started so I contacted Warren Entsch to ask him what was happening with it. The reply was swift, which was good, the answer insufficient, not so good. He stated that the GP clinics were not coalition policy, therefore he was not actively seeking answers on the topic. The directive was to suggest I ask Jan McLucas which I will do immediately and let you all know the response.

In my humble opinion, those elected to represent us, from all tiers of Government, should work together in our best interests, regardless of party policy. Surely they were elected to represent us all, not just those who voted for them. I was disappointed in the response but can't honestly say whether I am any happier with the fact that the Government officers in Canberra have apparently forgotten a prior commitment to our region. The worst part is that when the answers are finally given, the reasoning will be logical and sensible. The problem is that those reasons are not available to the general public and are only accessible after several people are asked.

What is wrong with giving updates to the community on projects slatted for development in our region? Accessible via cyberspace and newsprint. Especially when projects begin to fall behind time frames initially given.

Every resident is excited about the future opening of Sugarworld Slides. Families with children of all ages are thrilled as they watch the dirt tracks being etched into the mountain, knowing that the new slides will follow those paths. The work is progressing beautifully and I am positive that the numbers attending during the Christmas school holidays will prove the wait a necessary and ultimately useful one. Many have questioned whether a yearly pass will become available and that is certainly something that the Lessor should take into consideration as a possibility.

The lack of facilities for teens is also a common thread in the area, as is the increase in break ins and unruly behaviour late at night. These things are more than likely connected. The Leisure Centre will provide some relief but there has been no mention of entry fees to the facility and if it isn't free or a minimal cost (i.e. $3) there will be no benefit at all. Skate and bmx facilities are high on the list of 'wants' and neither will form part of the leisure centre as it currently stands. Perhaps they should? Is there any reason not to include a skate bowl in the grounds? Or a few dirt humps? Or both!

The area around my home is filled with children of all ages. This area is one of the only ones left in Cairns with affordable housing and is the ideal starting point for any young family, many of whom choose to stay while their children attend local schools. You simply cannot have an abundance of children around and not create an environment that encourages healthy activity and past-times.

The glut of social housing in the back of Edmonton has led to similar problems that occurred in the area I was raised, Manoora. This was due in part to the low incomes of residents but was also due to the lack of FREE things to do. Most of those entering social housing outside of unit developments have more than one child. These children get bored. All children get bored. Manoora got smart and built several key spaces for engagement with children and families and the results speak for themselves.

The fact that in the space of two suburbs there are three State Schools, one of which has over 1500 students, and one Catholic School which is the largest in the area and holds over 650 children, should indicate the huge amount of children living here. The added fact that a brand new, much larger Catholic School will be built in the area by 2014 and another State school is being considered is further proof that these children are crying out for facilities relevant to them.

You can't build a suburban area which encourages families without also building infrastructure that supports those families. That message needs to be heard by Council, State and Federal Governments as the situation will not improve unless something is done soon.

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