Solar on the Town Hall


Last weekend we installed 29kw of solar panels on both the Fremantle Town Hall and on the civic admin building (mock ups of the installation sites are shown below).

We are we doing this as part of our Low Carbon City Plan in which the City has allocates almost 1% of percentage of rates to install renewable energy each year.  This is in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect the City from rising electricity costs and to demonstrate sustainability leadership.

This installation is 29kW – almost as large as what we installed at the leisure centre a few years ago.

This will produce about 9 households’ worth of electricity.  Each year it will reduce the City’s emissions by 40 tonnes and save $12,000 in electricity.  It will pay for itself in a little under 10 years.

This project will have resulted in more than doubling the City’s solar capacity in the last few months.

You can track our renewable energy generation at the following site:


ABC 7.30 WA – Fremantle Mayor confident the port city will attract business and people back again

For  those of you who missed this week’s 7.30 WA and would like to see the interview I did on Freo click here

Freo and graffiti art.

This week there has been a lot of publicity about the new Fremantle street art and graffiti policy. This was put together with Dr Martin Drum and public policy students from the University of Notre Dame and doesn’t make street art legal but it does allow our graffiti removal team to leave up some street if it has artistic merit. It will be out for public comment over the next month so have your say. Here is what the West wrote on page 3 today:

FREO ALLOWS GRAFFITI ART by Kate Emery, The West Australian Updated October 25, 2012

Graffiti deemed to have artistic or cultural merit will be preserved in Fremantle under a policy shake-up intended to promote a “vibrant street art culture”.

Fremantle City Council last night unanimously approved a change in policy that will hand city workers the power to retain unauthorised graffiti, which would otherwise be automatically removed.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt acknowledged the move might be controversial for some residents but said it would ease the burden on council workers and allow more “thoughtful” works to remain.

“It’s quite an innovative policy but one that, I think, makes a lot of sense,” he said.

“We realised that the current approach, which saw all graffiti in the same way, wasn’t really working as well as it could.

“Ultimately councils only have so many resources to remove graffiti and I would much rather we put our resources into removing mindless tags as opposed to some of the more thoughtful works.”

Mr Pettitt said there would “always be a grey area” about what constituted art.

He said a flock of birds painted on the wall of a public toilet block was one example of graffiti that had prompted a rethink of the city’s policy.

Another painting of a man smoking a pipe, which decorates a small alley behind shops in Atwell Arcade, was given as another example of the type of art that could be retained under the new policy.

Under existing rules, the city has a dedicated team that aims to get rid of graffiti in 24 to 48 hours.

Under the new policy, which will go out for public comment before being implemented in December, workers will make an initial judgment on new graffiti and immediately remove any deemed unworthy.

Any work considered potentially interesting will be referred to other staff, with the city’s public art officer and director of community services making the ultimate decision.

Statewide, graffiti is estimated to cost taxpayers $25 million a year in clean-up and repairs.

However, the rise of popular street artists such as Perth’s Stormie Mills, Britain’s Banksy and Belgian-born ROA, who was paid $15,000 by the City of Fremantle last year to paint a giant numbat on a wall in Henderson Street mall, has prompted debate about the value of graffiti as an art form.

Banksy, who has become a household name in Britain, was last year named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people and his works sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The changes planned for Fremantle would be similar to those already endorsed by the City of Melbourne, which posts examples of street art on its website.

Local planning policies for central Freo – they’re not sexy but important

The City of Freo is interested to hear your thoughts on two proposed local planning policies in Fremantle.

The first is known as the City Central precinct (Precinct 5) or the Amendment 49 area. It is a bit complex but important.

The planning policy for the East End (Precinct 3) is also out for comment.

The policies seek to ensure that new development contributes positively to the public domain, particularly in terms of creating a pedestrian orientated and vibrant environment. Importantly the policy also seeks to ensure that new development responds appropriately to its setting whilst allowing and encouraging innovation and creativity in the architectural design of the new development.

Your submission can be as long or as short as you want but please clearly state if you are in support, opposition or neutral. Thanks!

PS I visited Eagle Wools last week on Beach St (really worth a visit) and they had this classic Inner East End photo hanging up. I’m guessing 1980?

An inexpensive path to more sustainable cities: bikes, cycleways and relaxed helmet rules

This week the West Australian is running quite an impressive series on encouraging more cycling in WA. Today they ran an opinion piece I wrote on why bikes are an inexpensive path to more sustainable cities. I have pasted the full text below

An inexpensive path to more sustainable cities: bikes, cycleways and relaxed helmet rules

Perth is undergoing unprecedented population growth. Around a 1000 people are moving into WA each week putting increasing pressure on our already straining transport network. So, what are our options to keep us moving efficiently around our rapidly growing city and deal with traffic congestion that is expected to the Australia’s capital cities over $20 billion annually by 2020?

Perth could of course take the Los Angeles approach and keep building more and bigger highways and freeways but these are extraordinarily expensive. The recently announced Gateway WA airport roads package alone is expected to cost more than $1 billion. History also shows that that building more roads simply attracts more cars to fill them – holding off congestion only momentarily.

Perth instead needs to be making alternatives to the private car the focus – to both limit congestion and tackle sustainability concerns.

Without a doubt, WA will need a major investment in public transport especially extending train lines and rolling out light rail. But rail is also expensive. For example, light rail costs between $20 and $50 million per kilometre and as a result is likely take many decades to be rolled out to a wide range of suburbs.

Looking to more affordable options, cycling is perhaps the cost-effective response to traffic congestion. Cycling rates in WA are some of the lowest in the world with the number of people commuting by bicycle falling from 1.8% in 2000 to 1.2% in 2009. By contrast in many western European countries have 10-30% commuting on bikes. In Copenhagen the bicycle, with a modal share of 36%, is the most used form of transport for trips to work.

A great thing about cycling is not only is it a healthy and sustainable form of transport but it is also supported by cost effective infrastructure. Dedicated cycle ways and on-road bike lanes (which are essential to make cycling safer and more appealing to a wider range of riders) are a fraction of the cost of road and rail per kilometre. Furthermore, bike lanes return the equivalent of roughly $4 on every dollar spent compared with just $2 for motorway projects.

But perhaps the most effective way of getting more people on bikes is to relax the mandatory requirements for adults to wear helmets on cycle paths and low-speed roads.Manfred Neun, the president of the European Cyclists Federation, believes the number of cyclists in WA would treble if helmets were not compulsory.

While this leads to the obvious safety question, the evidence across many countries is that an increase the number of cyclists actually makes cycling safer. As the number of cyclists doubles, the risk per kilometre falls by 34%.

Cycling has up to now been the neglected tool in the chest of solutions for Perth’s transport problems. Far greater investment in bike lanes and liberalising our helmets laws could see us become the Copenhagen of the South yet. On your bikes.

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2012 ‘Freo Futures’ Forum – This Thursday

The 2012 ‘Freo Futures’ event will see a panel of Freo leaders respond to student ideas on how to improve Fremantle.  panel consists of:

Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond; Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt; CEO Fremantle Chamber of Commerce Tim Milsom; President Fremantle Society Roel Loopers

Where: University of Notre Dame Tannock Hall of Education, ND4/101

When: 7-9pm, Thursday 11 October 2012


Ideas to be discussed include:

  • How to fix the Cappucino Café strip
  • How to get  landowners take more ownership of the land surrounding their property,
  • ‘Greenifing  Fremantle’.
  • How to encourage affordable high density living in Fremantle.

Should be a great discussion. See you there.

Good explanation of Freo’s Parking Review on Rachel’s revived Freo blog

Fremantle is having a major overhaul of its parking and we’d love your feedback.

City ward Councillor Rachel Pemberton has done a good job or writing up this issue on her recently revived blog so check out what she has to say. The first bit is below too


The parking challenges in Freo are sometimes overstated but clearly people are being caught out with hefty fines and there is some room for improvement.  A Council working group was formed to develop strategies to make parking work better for residents and visitors alike. These initiatives are coming to this week’s SGS meeting for debate on Wednesday 10 October.

Night time parking fees

I’m pleased that one of my campaign suggestions was adopted – to make night time street parking a flat rate all night. If this gets approved, you will only need to pay a maximum of $4 to park on the street at night in Freo, regardless of how long you stay. You wont need to go back to your car to feed the meter.

More half-hour free parking in the east end

The half hour free parking bays on the street will be expanded to include more along the eastern end of High Street (from Queen Street to Parry Street) and Adelaide Street (between Queen Street and Parry Street). This is intended to support business, particularly in the ester and centre of town.

First hour free

The City owns or manages approximately 4,984 parking bays around the CBD; 1,034 on-street bays and 3,950 off-street bays. To encourage people to use the off street parking bays, we are proposing to make the first hour of parking in the Queensgate or Parry Street car parks free, then just $2 per hour for subsequent hour/s.