Priority Issues for the 2002-2003 ACT Budget

The Weston Creek Community Council (WCCC) has contributed each year, since our inception in 1991, to the input to the ACT Government Budget. In previous years this has been through lobbying our local members, but as you are aware the process has become more formal. We again submit on behalf of the residents of Weston Creek.


8 April 2002
Mr Ted Quinlan MLA
Deputy Chief Minister and Treasurer
ACT Legislative Assembly
London Circuit
CANBERRA ACT 2601

Attention: Ms Anita Hargreaves

Dear Ms Hargreaves

Priority Issues for the 2002-2003 ACT Budget

The Weston Creek Community Council (WCCC) has contributed each year, since our inception in 1991, to the input to the ACT Government Budget. In previous years this has been through lobbying our local members, but as you are aware the process has become more formal. We again submit on behalf of the residents of Weston Creek. If you require more information on the WCCC please visit our website at www.wccc.com.au

In response to the letter dated 27 February 2002 from the Treasurer regarding community input into the 2002-2003 Budget deliberations the WCCC offers the following comments which directly affect Weston Creek residents.

Attached is our submission for consideration and debate. All of the issues raised in our submission have been raised by residents either at our meetings or during our shopping centre visits.

If you have any questions or queries the Executive of the WCCC will be pleased to meet at a mutually convenient time. Our contact details are on this letterhead.

Yours sincerely

Jeff Carl
Chairperson, Weston Creek Community Council

2002-2003 ACT Budget Submission by the WCCC

COMMUNITY SERVICES AND SOCIAL EQUITY

There is still a pressing need for a public swimming pool in Weston Creek with residents regularly raising this issue at our meetings and during our shopping centre visits (correspondence supplied to the Chief Minister). The population of Weston Creek has an increasing proportion of older persons and we are also experiencing an increase in the numbers of primary school aged children. Both population groups would benefit from the presence of a swimming pool in Weston Creek with the older persons having ready access to hydrotherapy and the children having easier access to learn-to-swim classes. A local swimming pool would also provide a focal point for family and youth activities within Weston Creek, which both Mr Ted Quinlan and Mr Simon Corbell have admitted as being a major negative to the community structure at present. The WCCC fundamentally disagrees with the findings of the “Strategic Review of Pools and Related Facilities in the ACT” released in April 1997 by the previous government.

Whilst the WCCC is aware of the perception in the broader Canberra community that we should use the Woden swimming pool, the fact remains that the Woden facility is difficult to access by public transport; is open to the sun; and it is closed for 6 months of the year. Hence it is not well patronised by Weston Creek residents. The swimming pool that we propose would be a basic, fully enclosed 25m pool that is able to operate all year. Similar pools have been built around Port Stephens in NSW for a minimal cost. A suitable piece of land is located in Fremantle Drive, Stirling, between the Weston Campus of The Canberra College and the Wildcats Sports Club. Other possible sites are adjacent to the Weston Skate Park, the Ex-Holder High School Oval and the reserve at the end of Hindmarsh Drive. The WCCC is available, as always, to assist in negotiations with the community on a preferred site.

In addition local sports clubs such as the Wildcats and Royals Rugby Club might also be willing to contribute to this project. The WCCC requests the provision of about $2M for a basic indoor 25m public swimming pool for year-round use.

understands that a proposal to amalgamate the Weston Creek Community Service (WCCS) and the Tuggeranong Community Service will be put to public meetings on 17 April 2002. We further understand that there is little opposition to this proposal and we expect the amalgamation to proceed.

Irrespective of the new arrangements, the WCCC is concerned that funding for some community services has not increased in the past four years. Indeed funding has actually decreased when you take into account the fact that some funding bodies have insisted that all of the funds be used to provide the service and that money formerly allocated to administration has now to be spent on providing the service. It is this latter arrangement which has caused the WCCS the most difficulty and forced it to seek amalgamation.

The WCCC believes that funding should be realistically adjusted to take inflationary pressures into account. Not all of the funding required to run community services in Weston Creek comes from the ACT Government, but the WCCC requests that all new community service grants to be offered by the ACT Government in 2002-2003 be adjusted to compensate for past inflationary increases and offer some realistic provision for current inflation. If this does not happen the WCCC believes that there will be no alternative to reducing services in the next financial year.

For many years now the Weston Creek community, which has some 24,000 residents, has been asking for a library service. The WCCC notes that there are several districts in Canberra with populations of 12,000-20,000 residents which have their own library service (these districts being Griffith, Gungahlin and Kippax). With the advent of the internet and the development of electronic books, this library requirement can be satisfied by a comparatively small investment in a facility comprising two or three rooms with Internet/electronic facilities which are able to download information onto palm-held computer devices. Such facilities would provide effectively a “virtual library” and the downloaded information could be set to automatically delete from the palm-held devices after a set period of say two weeks. The WCCC accepts that Internet access is available for Weston Creek residents through the Woden Library, but our residents/students have great difficulty with public transport access to this library. The “virtual library” could, for example, be located at one of our under-utilised school facilities such as the Weston Campus of The Canberra College located in Stirling. Recent debate with Mr Simon Corbell (27 March 2002) has lead to the need to reinforce the Government’s commitment not to close schools in Canberra. The provision of a public “virtual library” with Internet facilities at the Stirling site would positively reinforce the Government’s commitment to retain a secondary college in Weston Creek. The WCCC requests that funds be provided to establish an ACT electronic library and Internet access at the Stirling Campus early in the 2002-2003 FY to reinforce the Government’s support for enrolments in the 2003 school year.

COMMUNITY CONSULTATIONS

Presently the ACT community has limited avenues to discuss issues directly with Ministers outside the confines of the ACT Legislative Assembly in London Circuit. The previous Government had a ‘Meet the Minister’ arrangement which has been suspended. We are aware that the funds for this are being held while other options are considered. The WCCC, as an established and reputable community group, has continually attracted a wide range of senior ACT Government staff and Ministers who use the WCCC regular monthly meetings as a forum to promulgate the Government’s message to the community. The WCCC agrees with the benefits of this interaction. However we are financially limited in the extent of our advertising of the attendance of Ministers. The WCCC requests access to the funds, on a case by case basis, to advertise the attendance of Ministers at meetings.

EDUCATION

The temporary carpark at the rear of Waramanga Pre-School caters for the increased number of teachers working in the school following the amalgamation of the Fisher and Waramanga Primary Schools. Parents who supply volunteer services to the school, as the school funding does not extend to paid teacher assistants, also use the carpark. The carpark desperately needs upgrading to the sealed standard specified in the original plans when the schools were amalgamated. At the present time, the dirt surface has seriously deteriorated and it is generally unsafe for walking. We are aware of several OH&S incidents arising in this carpark. The surface also generates substantial amounts of dust during dry periods which adversely impacts on nearby residents and school students. A sealed carpark will assist families and teachers attending Arawang Primary School and the Waramanga Pre-School during the school year. In addition families attending sporting activities on the adjacent Waramanga Playing Fields can use the carpark. This will relieve on-street and off-street parking congestion for patrons on weekends. The upgraded carpark will also relieve congestion for the nearby Scout Hall and Veterinary Surgery. Due to the carpark’s dual uses, budgeting for this project needs to be drawn partly from Education and partly from Sport & Recreation. The WCCC request that urgent funding be provided to seal the carpark at Arawang Primary School.

All Government schools and pre-schools in Weston Creek are at least 21 years old (and most are over 25 years old) and as such they all require significant maintenance. An example of this requirement is at Rivett and Chapman Primary Schools. Both schools regularly have water overflowing from the roof into classrooms during periods of heavy/torrential rain. Whilst each school’s annual budget includes an amount for routine building maintenance, the schools have had little structural maintenance and upgrading over the past 10 years. The WCCC requests that funds be provided to repair the leaking roofs of Rivett and Chapman Primary Schools.

rnment Pre-schools and Primary Schools in Weston Creek require high-speed Internet access through a dedicated line. At the present time, our schools have to use a shared telephone/Internet line with the obvious restriction that they cannot take telephone calls when on the Internet. Since most suburbs of Weston Creek will be connected to the TransACT network by late this calendar year, TransACT would appear to provide a system to satisfy this requirement. Improved Internet access will also allow the pre-schools and schools to offer improved and expanded learning opportunities for their students. The WCCC requests that pre-schools and primary schools in Weston Creek have dedicated high speed Internet access through TransACT.

fewer college students attending the Stirling Campus of The Canberra College a number of proposals have surfaced regarding the expanded use of this valuable education facility. One proposal voiced in our community is for the Campus to become a public “Community” education facility for educating adult members of our community. There appears to be an extreme shortage of such education opportunities in Canberra. The suggestion differs from the current and very popular “Brain Gym” program run at the Campus (which would continue as it attracts in excess of 4000 people per week). The proposal is that most courses would be offered “at cost” to the adult students, but some places in every course would be reserved for members who could not afford the course fees. It is expected that all of the necessary infrastructure (buildings, equipment, etc) for this “Community” college are already present at the Campus. Administration of the facility would continue with The Canberra College based at Philip. Classes could be conducted during the day and/or evening, depending on the adult students’ preferences. The WCCC requests that funding be provided to allow alternative education programs to be offered at this site subject to suitable agreement with the School Board of Canberra College.

The recent investigation and upgrade of outside play equipment in Weston Creek primary and pre-schools identified a number of pine structures, which were considered unsafe, and these have been removed. Several of those removed from the schools have been replaced with structures which meet current Australian Design Standards for play equipment. However a number are yet to be upgraded / replaced. The WCCC requests that funding be provided to complete an audit of the status of this work and fund the remaining replacement play equipment in our district’s schools.

NVIRONMENT

The WCCC is concerned that current funding of the various tree preservation policies of PALM and in particular, the Significant Tree Register, are inadequate. Most suburbs of Weston Creek have significant examples of the remnant open woodland habitat that existed throughout the region and residents have expressed their concerns that these remnants are not being adequately protected. The present reliance on neighbours to report instances of damage to “protected” or “significant” trees places an undue burden on residents and can even involve them in difficult neighbourhood disputes. Furthermore, the delay in implementing ACTCode 2 has exacerbated the situation by allowing the old, tree-unfriendly development policies to continue. The WCCC requests that the Significant Tree Register program be implemented immediately (with or without ACTCode 2). This needs to be directly administered and policed by staff from Environment ACT and would necessitate a funding increase to this Government authority to cover its increased responsibilities.

SPORT AND RECREATION

The temporary dirt carpark at Arawang Primary School, which caters for weekend sport and recreation activities at the Waramanga Playing Fields, needs upgrading to a sealed standard. The Sport and Recreation budget needs to contribute to the Education budget in funding this carpark. The WCCC requests that the Sport & Recreation Budget contribute to carpark upgrading which benefits patrons of cricket and soccer.

Corbell has asked the WCCC and the Weston Creek community on several occasions on the needs of Weston Creek in respect to the Government’s potential approval of a Montessorri school on the ex-Holder High School Oval. The Minister has been advised (in person 7 Feb 2002) that the WCCC requests an Athletics Training Track at Weston Primary School Oval (adjacent to the Skate Park). This would be the same as previously planned for Woden Park near The Canberra Hospital. In addition the WCCC requests toilet facilities be provided at the Little Athletics Field (Chapman Oval).

URBAN SERVICES

Many of the bicycle paths in Weston Creek are disjointed and need to be better interlinked to reduce potentially dangerous situations arising for cyclists. A prime example of this problem occurs at the intersection of Mulley Street and Streeton Drive in Holder which is frequented by ACTION buses and is a dangerous intersection for cyclists. The WCCC requests that all bicycle paths be examined and funds be made available for the Mulley Street bicycle path re-configuration.

ad bicycle path is required on Streeton Drive (between Hindmarsh Drive and Namatjira Drive) to enable cyclists to safely traverse this very busy section of road. This proposal was put on hold until the entrance configuration to the recently completed Defence Housing Authority complex in Stirling was determined. Since entrance to the complex is via a roundabout at the Darwinia Terrace/Streeton Drive intersection, without the originally proposed on-road traffic calming measures, line markings for this bicycle path can now proceed. The WCCC requests the on-road bicycle path on Streeton Drive be actioned as soon as possible

the footpaths in Weston Creek have deteriorated to such a degree that their surfaces are breaking up and they present a myriad of trip-points to pedestrians. Examples can be readily found along Bangalay Crescent in Rivett near the primary school and on the paths leading to Chapman shops. Since Weston Creek has a significant population of older persons, some of whom have mobility limitations, it is imperative that a program be instituted to replace/repair the footpaths before anyone is seriously injured in a fall. The WCCC requests that the footpath between Chapman Primary School gate and Streeton Drive be re-built.

Our local centre shops in Chapman, Duffy and Waramanga need rejuvenation and upgrading. The highest priority is to replace uneven paving around the shops with further work needed to improve their general amenity for shoppers and increase the frequency of emptying the rubbish bins in public areas. Complaints from residents about the dangerous paving, lack of amenity and lack of cleanliness of public areas around our local centre shops figure highly in our reports on the two shopping centre visiting programs recently conducted by the WCCC Executive. The Fisher local centre has been partially upgraded as part of a private development that occurred adjacent the centre. The WCCC requests that Waramanga and Fisher Shops receive further improvements to paving to remove trip-points and to upgrade access ramps for wheelchair/stroller access so as to increase the amenity of the shops and reduce the Government’s liability.

Quinlan campaigned on the basis of improved car parking for the Arawang Netball Courts in Streeton Drive Stirling. Numerous press reports allude to such commitments. The WCCC requests that the Minister adhere to these commitments and doubles the size of the carpark to ensure a reduction of on-street carparking. Such improvement would also assist the car parking for Junior Australian Rules games held adjacent to the netball courts. The WCCC requests doubling of the size of the Arawang Netball Carpark in the 2002-2003 FY.

assisted in the community negotiations for the development of 50 houses in Streeton Drive Stirling for the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) with PALM. During the construction phase significant impacts were made on the adjacent public open space, known as the “Casuarina Walkway”. This is an access route, by foot, to a number of major sporting locations in Stirling which is central to Weston Creek. The WCCC negotiated with DHA on 15 December 2001 to have the Walkway rehabilitated by DHA. DHA agreed on condition that the Department of Urban Services (DUS) restricted car access and that this be completed by March 2002 so the rehabilitation could take place. The WCCC has been in negotiations with Roads and Traffic, Canberra Urban Parks and Places (CUPPS), Environment ACT and directly with Minister Corbell (7 Feb 2002). These negotiations with DUS have been protracted and DHA has reached the end of their time commitments for landscape rehabilitation. The WCCC therefore requests that the cost of preventing vehicles access by installing bollards, construction of a concrete footpath as well as grass and tree planting be undertaken by DUS as soon as practicable.

The WCCC is well aware of the impact of our district on the operations of the Mt Stromlo Observatory. We have been very conscious of the light pollution from new works (eg new buildings in the Cooleman Court precinct etc). There is a need to manage such light pollution. The WCCC requests that ACTEW be provided with additional funding so that when servicing and replacing lighting in Weston Creek they do so with yellow sodium lights not white light.

ORKS

There are numerous occasions when traffic leaving Weston Creek is disrupted by accidents at the on-ramp of Cotter Road/ Tuggeranong Parkway heading north. This on-ramp needs to be modified to meet Australia Design Standards. It is not practical to reach the road speed of 100 kph in the length provided. The WCCC requests that funds be provided to modify the Cotter Road/ Tuggeranong Parkway on-ramp.

FORWARD PLANNING

The WCCC is well aware of the impact that the upcoming potential release of the North Duffy / North Holder land will have on the portfolios of Mr Simon Corbell (Planning) and Mr Bill Wood (Urban Services). There is a need to ensure that appropriate and timely community consultations are undertaken to ensure that the Government and the community can deal with the issues which arise in the debate. The WCCC requests that funds be allocated, and appropriately distributed, in 2002-2003 FY to bona vide community groups to undertake land release consultations.

N Buses

The WCCC is aware of the decreasing use of public transport from Weston Creek. One of the major impediments is the lack of a through route on Streeton Drive north on the Tuggeranong Parkway to the City and south to the Tuggeranong Interchange. Such routes to office locations could increase patronage. This would also alleviate the need to change buses at Woden interchange – which is a major deterrent for bus use in Weston Creek. The WCCC requests that ACTION be provided with funds to undertake a 12 month trial in 2002-2003 of a contiguous north – south route via Weston Creek from/to City- Tuggeranong.

8 April 2002

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