Budget 2000-01

Thank you for your letter of 19 January 1999 inviting comment from the Weston Creek Community Council on the forthcoming ACT Budget. The Community Council very much appreciates the opportunity to be able to make a submission.

 

Mrs Kate Carnell MLA

Chief Minister

ACT Legislative Assembly

London Circuit

CANBERRA ACT 2601

Dear Mrs Carnell

Thank you for your letter of 19 January 1999 inviting comment from the Weston Creek Community Council on the forthcoming ACT Budget. The Community Council very much appreciates the opportunity to be able to make a submission.

Compared to the overall budget, the matters that the Community Council has to raise will not have much impact on budget outcomes and for that reason we see no need for a follow up interview on our submission.

Funding for Community Councils

The grant we receive to help fund our Community Council has been very welcome and has helped us provide a much better service. We ask that the present grant of $3,000 continue in the next budget.

Part 2 of Weston Creek Group Centre Works

The Community Council welcomes these works which will go along way to improving the amenity of our main shopping centre. We understand that the work has been scheduled for the 1998/99 and 1999/2000 budgets and we hope that this will continue. At the time of writing some of these works had already commenced. Total cost of these works is expected to be $700,000.

Duffy Drainage Works

This work has been programmed over a number of years. Part 2 of this project is the reshaping of Duffy oval so that it becomes a water holding area in times of extraordinary run-off. Even though these works have not yet been completed we understand that it has already made a difference to householders living on the eastern side of Dixon Drive. We hope that these works will proceed according to schedule.

Cotter Road Upgrade

The situation regarding the proposed expansion of the Defence staff training college on the Cotter Road is not clear at the moment. As you know the Federal Government announced that separate training colleges at Queenscliff and Sale in Victoria were to be closed and their operations consolidated on the existing Weston Creek college site. Recent press reports indicated that the Mayor of Queenscliff had argued for the retention of the training facilities in his area. We understood that the Mayor had been successful and the naval training college would not move from Queenscliff.

However, further inquiries from within the Defence Department indicated that as far as they knew there were no plans to delay the consolidation and they were actively working for it. No doubt the position will become clearer in time.

At recent meetings of the Community Council the expansion of the college was generally welcomed provided that the college authorities were sensitive to the light pollution problems associated with development in Weston Creek. We realise that in this instance this is not a matter for the ACT Government except as something that you might have to be take up with the college authorities. The potential major traffic problem on the Cotter Road at the intersection of Kirkpatrick Street still needs to be dealt with.

Already there are traffic problems with this intersection at peak times due to the large increase in traffic from West Belconnen to the Parliamentary Triangle using the Coppin’s Crossing/Cotter Road route. Any increase in numbers using Kirkpatrick Street to gain access to the college can only make this situation worse.

For some time now the Community Council has been asking for consideration to be given to making the Cotter Road a four lane divided road between the Tuggeranong Freeway and Streeton Drive and we believe that the new college development means that this will have to be given a higher priority. Although planning will have to commence now this is not necessarily a matter for the 1999/2000 budget.

Proposed Youth Facility

We expect that the new Weston Creek youth facility will be re-confirmed in this next budget. Although there has been some debate on the location of the facility the new youth facilities have been welcomed by most residents. The total likely impact of this proposal on ACT budgets is around $400,000.

Pre-school Play Equipment

The Community Council welcomes the ACT Government’s commitment to the upgrading of pre-school play equipment. In this budget we would expect that one or two pre-schools in Weston Creek would be on the list to receive an upgrade in this budget.

Mt Stromlo Observatory

As you know there is currently a moratorium on further development in Weston Creek for the next five years or so until the future of the Mt Stromlo Observatory becomes more certain. The Observatory has moved in recent times to consolidate its position at Mt Stromlo and has opened a new tourist attraction called Mt Stromlo Exploratory to help this consolidation. We welcome this development which is a great asset for the whole of Canberra.

Despite this development we understand that the future of the Observatory could still be jeopardised by increasing light pollution in Canberra. As far as streetlights are concerned we have been told that sodium vapour lamps are much less of a problem to astronomers than mercury vapour lamps. If this is the case we would like to see a plan for the removal of all mercury vapour street lamps (from Weston Creek in the first instance because we are closest to the Observatory) as replacements fall due. Provided it is not too costly some consideration could also be given to swapping existing mercury vapour lamps in Weston Creek for sodium vapour lamps in areas further away from Mt Stromlo. If the plan is kept to the regular maintenance program there should be no impact on the budget. The introduction of this plan (assuming a plan is not already in place) might enable the resumption of further appropriate development in Weston Creek.

Community Facilities and Library for Weston Creek

As you know a library service for Weston Creek has been one of the most frequently asked for services at our meetings. In an effort to gain a service commensurate with the needs and size of Weston Creek we suggested that an electronic library be established which could run a part-time basis using an existing building in Weston Creek. The “electronic” library would be restricted to offering Internet services and the lending of computer CD discs. To back up this claim for a library service we have pointed out that the existing Woden Library is inadequate because (i) it is poorly located within the shopping centre with a long walk from either the parking stations or the bus centre (difficult for elderly people to access) and (ii) most of the time parking fees are needed to gain access to the library. We have been told that we should then use the Erindale Library instead. This is the same as asking Gungahlin people to use the Dickson library.

It is disappointing to note that we have been passed over in favour of preparatory work to establish a library at Gungahlin. Compared to Gungahlin, which has a population of around 16,000, Weston Creek has a population of around 24,000. On current population trends it will be a long time before Gungahlin reaches the population of Weston Creek. The most optimistic population forecast is that Canberra will grow by about 1,000 people a year. (I know that your Government is doing its best to boost new businesses and tourism to offset this population forecast.) On this basis the population of Gungahlin will not reach that of Weston Creek until the year 2006, assuming that each new Canberra resident goes to live in Gungahlin, which is unlikely, given the trend to inner city living and competition from nearby areas in New South Wales. Some time ago we were informed that our ideas about an electronic library were considered to be a valuable suggestion.

However, now we find that the idea is being considered for implementation in Gungahlin. As you know we have never accepted the argument that we are not a town centre and that because Gungahlin is it is entitled to better facilities. Neither are the Kippax, Griffith, Dickson or Erindale centres. I know that this issue will be raised again at future meetings.

We have also discussed the present state of community facilities in Weston Creek and believe that the community centre may no longer appropriate for the current population of Weston Creek resulting in its under utilisation. I have raised this matter with Mr Gary Humphries MLA and he is fully conversant with the problems and the difficulties facing anybody who wants to change the present situation. We have agreed that any changes should be slow and gradual and subject to appropriate consultation.

Another matter of concern is the fact that parts of the present community centre are not air-conditioned and it provides great discomfort for staff and clients (especially elderly clients) using the building in summer. We hope that in future some funds can be found to air condition parts of the present centre.

Revenue Side

Much as we would like to make a positive suggestion on ways of increasing ACT revenue we can’t. However, we are all conscious of the need to examine all possible means to raise extra revenue.

Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission on the issues affecting Weston Creek for the 1999 ACT Budget. I hope that our comments have been helpful. We believe that the views expressed in this letter are representative of the views expressed at our public meetings.

Yours sincerely

Bob Sutherland

Chairperson

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