Published 6 June 2018, The Courier, Ballarat
The recently released Council car-parking plan has already sparked much public debate. In recent weeks, we have also seen a spike in the number of serious traffic accidents in the CBD as well as a media focus on the issues concerning the transformation of CBD transport in general.
I sense that we are at a tipping point, where the issues of traffic congestion, transport safety, car use convenience and the cost of car dependency are literally on a collision course. Regrettably, debate about the root causes of these issues and the well-considered plans to ameliorate them have appeared to produce more heat than light in print and social media of late.
The courageous and visionary car-parking plan advanced by Council is to be applauded because it is based in thought leadership and proposes to take the first big important steps towards true structural change in the way all modes of transport are managed in our CBD.
A few weeks ago, I had a piece published about the vision for a CBD with fewer cars and a range of steps that could be progressively rolled out in support of that vision. Following on from that piece, can I suggest that the Council car-parking plan doesn’t go far enough, at least not yet.
Clearly, the new parking plan will raise additional revenue for Council, revenue that should be earmarked for re-investment into the transformation of the CBD public. Without repeating all of the ideas recently published in detail, these should progressively include:
I encourage Council to consult and work with the federal and state governments and private enterprise who are also eager to tackle the challenges posed by an already-congested and rapidly evolving CBD. It is encouraging to see that public–private partnerships will be sought to provide off-street car-parking solutions. The proposed expansion of the hospital might present an opportune time to provide comprehensive on-site parking solutions for patients and staff for the first time in history.
Committee for Ballarat has dedicated task teams to advocate for CBD activation and revitalisation, as well as better transport connectivity within and around Ballarat. Every crisis, including the current transport stress in central Ballarat, contains the seeds of opportunity for positive change; now is the time for bold visions and cool practical heads to dream of a better future and implement the changes required.
Council’s car-parking plan has polarised some stakeholders – many people are looking through the prism of who will be the winners and who will be the losers rather than thinking about the Ballarat community winning as a whole. Whether people like it or not, we are all on a free fall into the future; it’s time for Ballarat to embrace what the future can bring.
CEO, Committee for Ballarat