New Year’s Resolutions for a City

On this New Year’s Eve, it’s worth reflecting on better city making and some New Year’s resolutions as we go forward. I have been inspired by an article Brent Toderian (who recently visited Perth from Vancouver and joined us for a walk around Fremantle) wrote this time last year. I have taken some of his core ideas and given them a Freo focus.

2014 has been both a hard and challenging year for Fremantle. Yesterday swimming at Bathers Beach before having a meal at the new Bathers Beach House, I couldn’t help but feel that Fremantle is truly becoming even more vibrant and liveable. a packed vibrant Bathers Beach was barely imaginable a few years ago, let alone the most popular  skate park in Australia. In 2014 we’ve worked with challenges and successes, and with frustration and fatigue, but always with a passion that keeps driving us forward as a community.

So this year, as West Australia/Australia struggles with fiscal cliffs, patterns of urban sprawl and its ecological and social damage, and an irresponsible lack of action on climate change, we in Freo can focus on where real success, real progress, has been occurring for a while – in cities and city-regions.

Here are a handful of resolutions for our community to hopefully embrace. They aren’t unique – we all know what they are, and any of us could write them – but like resolving to lose weight each year, it’s the doing that counts, not the uniqueness of the resolution. If we can make these real in 2015, we would truly make our cities better:

  • We resolve to come together as a community that cares about Fremantle, to put aside decade old differences, and finally break the silos that keep us from achieving holistic, complete city-building.
  • We resolve to set better goals, and better measure the RIGHT successes, rather than optimizing the wrong things. Smart density, not sprawl. Shorter, smarter trips, with everything we need closer. More parks and public places that more people visit, and stay in longer. The key is to be clear, and to honestly measure success over time. In many cases, we’ve been busy measuring the wrong things.
  • We resolve to not just increase density, but to do density better! With beautiful (but not necessarily more expensive) design, walkability, mix and completeness, amenities, and housing and population diversity.
  • We resolve to push for sensible transport investment in our region. It is tragic when the biggest single road project in Perth’s history – the freight link – will only encourage more freight onto roads instead of rail at the same time investment in public transport in our region is at a standstill.
  • We resolve to stop feeding, or accepting, the unhealthy and distracting “war on the car” rhetoric, and inspire our cities with what true multi-modal cities can achieve. All ways of getting around work better, including cars, if we emphasize walking, biking and transit!
  • We resolve to address key social issues like mental health and homeless, not just because it’s the right thing to do, not just because it actually saves us money in the longer term, but because it diminishes all of us when these issues aren’t properly addressed.
  • We resolve to stop accepting “false choices” that are dumbing-down our conversation about how to building cities. Heritage preservation OR smart growth. Good planning OR job creation. Beautiful design OR affordable design. Good city-making doesn’t play these false choice games.
  • We resolve to stop using the eight most frustrating words in the English language – “we could never do that in our city!”. Great cities made good and often hard choices and stuck with them for years if not decades to see their benefits come to fruition.
  • Lastly, we resolve to be not just involved in, but absolutely integral in, the broad conversation about the future of Freo. And at the same time, we all need to listen and learn a lot better.

 

This list isn’t intended to be comprehensive. But I was inspired to share them with you because I’m inspired by the year we could have together, our community of people who love and care about where Fremantle is going and the broader leadership we can show.

By half way through 2015 there isn’t going to be a Fremantle Council or East Fremantle Council but there will be a greater Fremantle community and that is why it is all the more important in 2015 that we step up and constructively engage in Fremantle ‘s future. Feel free to add more, to contribute and debate, but most importantly, to passionately participate this year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

(Much of this article has its origins in Brent Toderian’s post at http://www.planetizen.com/node/59985 Brent is an international consultant on advanced urbanism with TODERIAN UrbanWORKS and his ideas are well worth checking out).

IMG_7395

 

SHAC and Access Housing to create first new co-housing site in WA for 15 years.

This week Fremantle-based artistic cooperative Sustainable Housing for Artists and Creatives (SHAC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with  Access Housing this to construct 12 affordable rental dwellings within LandCorp’s new White Gum Valley Kim Beazley former school site.The aim is to provide affordable housing for artists who work in the well-recognised cultural and artistic centre of Fremantle but have been progressively priced out of the area’s housing market.

Access Housing was approached by SHAC to assist with its proposal to LandCorp. Access Housing agreed to purchase the site and develop the residential dwellings, which will be rented to SHAC members at affordable rental prices upon completion of construction.

Access Housing was successful in securing National Rental Affordability Scheme incentives for the development, which will assist the artists to maintain affordable rents during their tenancy.

“With Access Housing having its traditional roots in Fremantle, we saw a great opportunity to partner with people who are active in the cultural and artistic fabric that the city is renowned for,” Access Housing General Manager – Property Assets Su Groome said.

“Fremantle is becoming beyond the reach of low to moderate income earners looking to buy or rent in the area, which was the catalyst for SHAC approaching us to assist with this project. Median house prices in Fremantle are now in excess of $800,000 and apartment units are also approximately $80,000 more expensive than the metro average. This reality certainly impedes on the ability for local artists to reside, and ultimately remain, in the Fremantle area without assistance from affordable housing providers like Access Housing and willing developers like LandCorp.”

Sustainable Housing for Artists and Creatives was established by professional artists based in and around Fremantle to meet a growing need for affordable housing within the creative community.

SHAC Chair, Fiona Gavino gave to following short speech that I thought was worth relaying here:

As Chair of SHAC I feel privilege to be representing such a group of dedicated and passionate people. It has been a steady journey of learning, discovery and commitment over the last 6 years. Thanks to the vision and foresight of our supporters – Landcorp, Access Housing, the City of Fremantle and now Donaldson and Warn we are now closer to reaching our destination.

The completion of this project will see the first new co-housing site established in Western Australia in 15 years. In this time of discussion around housing, affordability, urban in-fill and sustainability this housing development will demonstrate a new way forward.

It is SHAC’s hope as a creative community that this development can be part of a vision that will benefit all of Western Australia.”

The SHAC development will form part of a diverse range of housing types and living options within LandCorp’s White Gum Valley estate that will include apartments, maisonettes and single homes.

Donaldson and Warn have been appointed as SHAC project architects.

White Gum Valley Aerial West

Responsible Freo cafes putting plastic in its place

As part of the City of Fremantle’s One Planet commitment to waste reduction, the City and the Fremantle Business Improvement District (BID) are calling on all Fremantle cafes to join the Responsible Cafes program.

The Responsible Cafes program aims to reduce the amount of plastic waste from disposable coffee cups. The City is getting on board by providing incentives to the local community and visitors to use reusable coffee cups at cafes in Fremantle.

Fremantle cafes are encouraged to join the program by providing a modest discount to customers who bring their own reusable cups. By participating in the program, cafes not only save money and reduce waste, but also increase awareness of single-use waste and plastics in our environment.

Canvas Café, Moore & Moore, Fixx Espresso Bar, The Loft, Grumpy Sailor and Legally Brewed have all come on board as early adopters of the program, which will launch officially at the Plastic Free Summer Festival on Saturday 17January 2015.

“Six incredible Freo Cafes have already pledged to join the program, and are offering discounts to ‘cup carrying customers’ proving once again that our proactive business community has a focus on keeping Freo clean, green and plastic-free,” said Fremantle Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt. “I encourage other businesses to become part of what is a fantastic initiative the whole community can embrace.”

The City hopes to sign up 20 local cafes to the Responsible Cafes program by 2016, as part of its commitment to the One Planet Fremantle Strategy.

To kick-start the program, the City is providing cafés who become part of the Responsible Cafes program with an initial batch of reusable cups. The cafés are able to use these to help promote the fact they are a responsible café and to encourage people to bring in reusable cups.

Disposable coffee cups are a growing problem in Australia with about one billion disposable cups making their way into landfill or the natural environment each year, creating harmful greenhouse gases and significantly affecting the marine environment.

For more information on the Responsible Cafes program, the Plastic Free Summer Festival or the City of Fremantle’s Plastic Free Initiatives contact melanieb@fremantle.wa.gov.au

Responsible Cafes Poster A4

West article on how “Bike racks in car bays lift shop trade”

Bike racks in car bays lift shop trade

Converting on-street car parking into bike racks could be a gold mine for inner suburban businesses based on an analysis by Australia’s top transport research authority.

In its two reports out this week, Austroads, the research body representing Australian road authorities including Main Roads WA, assessed dozens of case studies to identify ways to encourage more people to cycle.

It found adequate bike parking was a key way to encourage bicycle trips, particularly in heavily congested inner-urban areas.

In 2008, the City of Melbourne changed two street parking spaces in Lygon Street, Carlton, to a corral for 24 bikes at a cost of $30,500.

An evaluation several years later found it generated four times more spending at local businesses than if the space was used for cars – $4042 a day compared with $994.

The report said bicycle corrals were relatively cheap and increasingly popular in providing high-volume, high-turnover parking in cities around the world.

It said the City of Sydney replaced car parking with bike corrals in Surry Hills and Redfern.

Bicycling WA chief executive Jeremey Murray said the analysis supported the longstanding view that more bike infrastructure could be good for local businesses.

“Bike riders might not spend as much as car drivers but they spend it more often,” Mr Murray said. “With bike bays, store owners can be assured of frequent visitors.”

The report said connected and coherent cycling infrastructure was a key to increased cycling.

It said urban planners, designers and traffic and transport engineers were using innovative road treatments to encourage cycling.

One approach in Adelaide was for “bicycle head-start storage boxes” where cyclists could move to the front of the queue at red lights.

The report said this improved the visibility of cyclists and made motorists more aware of them.

It avoided conflict between cars and bikes, particularly between left-turning vehicles and cyclists going straight ahead.

Other initiatives included raised bicycle priority road crossings and bike paths on wide median strips.

Slidestreet and Cappuccino Street Closure – fours Sundays in summer

The giant 300m long Slidestreet pop up slide will be in Fremantle along Essex Street, sliding from the Cappuccino Strip down towards the Esplanade on every Sunday from the 21st of December until 11th January.

The first slide day will embrace the festive session, with Christmas themed sliding sessions, carollers and new years resolution trees providing a fun and friendly community atmosphere. There’ll also be food and market stalls, along with a pop up bar and a huge viewing area.

For live entertainment Fremantle Dockers star and accomplished musician Luke McPharlin will be performing an acoustic set on Sunday 21st Dec around midday on the Cappuccino Strip. Luke will be joined by fellow troubadour Matt Gresham. There’ll also be sweet tunes from local DJs all day at the Sail & Anchor Stage.

You don’t have to slide to enjoy the fun – spectators are encouraged to head down and check out the action.

There has been lots of people calling for Freo’s Cappucino strip to be closed to vehicle traffic to create an even friendlier pedestrian environmentand its been great to see how local businesses have been very supportive of the trial and are fully behind it – most will be extending their trading areas to activate the Cappuccino Strip that will be closed to vehicles.

WHAT IS SLIDESTREET?

Inspired by memories of our childhood, Slidestreet takes the very Australian backyard summer tradition of a few sheets of plastic, detergent and a hose to the next level. Slidestreet is a 315 metre pop up inflatable water slide, as long as two AFL ovals back to back and offers adrenalin-pumping slip-sliding fun.

slide street

A giant waterslide drew crowds to Bristol in the UK over the summer. Photo: Getty Images

Calling all Freo song writers – WAM’s Song of the Year

The City of Fremantle is a sponsor of WAM’s Song of the Year (Rock category)

Artists can nominate their song up until next Monday 15th of December.

This year there is a record breaking $40,000+ worth of prizes to WA’s finest upcoming and established songwriters.

WAM is again championing upcoming and established WA talent across all genres from world to pop, to rock and experimental and everything in between.

We’d love one of Fremantle’s song writing talents to pick up an award or two so check out how to enter at:

http://wam.org.au/song-year-2014-opens/

Entries close 5pm Monday 15 December!

WAM Song of the Year

Full Freo 2029 Visioning Report now available

The Fremantle 2029 Community Visioning Project was a community engagement process which aimed to involve a wide range of Fremantle people including those who are not normally  engaged in the future of Fremantle.

I think it’d be fair to say it partially succeeded with close to 1 000 people attended five major workshops and three stakeholder forums. Many of those hadn’t been to a Fremantle Council  event like this before. It is my hope that  visioning made the most of Fremantle’s extraordinary local talent and knowledge and participants all go to have their say on key Fremantle issues and to be informed about the long term strategic issues facing council.

Six key themes were distilled from the various discussions, ideas and priority issues identified by participants throughout the visioning process. There were 17 discussion topics that generated a range of ideas among participants.

The full report which you can now down load also provides council comment and a brief status update in response to the ideas raised. The themes and actions that emerged from this visioning process have been used and will continue to be used to inform the council’s long term strategic planning and priority projects.

The issues most frequently mentioned by participants during the workshops included:

  • slowing traffic and making the city better for pedestrians, cyclists and improving public transport
  • supporting independent small business and the creative sector
  • protecting and enhancing the natural environment, green spaces and heritage features of the city
  • improving the connectivity around Fremantle, especially to the waterfront.

Since the visioning workshops took place, Freo council has implemented or initiated a number of priority projects that were identified as important to participants. These include establishing the Future Freo collaboration, the Green Plan Review, the new Integrated Transport Strategy and the soon-to-be released Freo 2029 Transformative Moves document.Fremantle Council will also be developing a new economic development strategy and a 2015-20 strategic plan.

As we go forward it’s important that the information and views collected through the Fremantle 2029 Community Visioning Project are filtered through a range of policies, programs and initiatives that can be implemented by the Fremantle Council, the Fremantle BID and community organisations.

Achieving our shared vision is inevitably the result of hundreds of smaller choices and we hope this visioning document is useful to inform the choices we make over the years ahead as we make Fremantle into the city we want by 2029.

Full report can be downloaded at   http://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/cityoffremantle/Fremantle_2029_Community_Visioning_Project/Community_report_%E2%80%93_December_2014

visioning