2016 Brisbane City Council Elections

The Politics of Gardening, Urban Planning, Development & Rainwater

The 2016 Brisbane City Council election filled me with despair. For an election fought on issues of transport and development, it would have been encouraging to see constructive debate and leadership on how we should manage the increasing density of our city, how new development could be managed to have a more positive environmental impact, and how already established areas can be improved.

Instead, we got the usual accusations of corruption, appeals to nimbyism, and crude attempts to buy votes. Neither of the two main parties inspired confidence.  Perhaps because of this, Brisbane got its first Green Councillor.

… change brings challenges as people find their suburbs changing around them. Change also brings opportunities to rethink and address old challenges. Could imaginative planning improve existing issues?

Urban sprawl increases infrustructure costs and swallows up bush and farmland. Increasing urban density is a better way to manage our increasing population. Smaller blocks, townhouses and apartments are accepted as the way of the future. But change brings challenges as people find their suburbs changing around them. Change also brings opportunities to rethink and address old challenges. Could imaginative planning improve existing issues?

On the Verge

After the election an important event took place. The BCC announced their verge planting policy after more than a decade of stonewalling. They finally relinquished some control to Brisbane residents – so we who maintain this space can decide what is planted there. It would be optimistic to see this as a change of heart from a council. The more likely scenario is that the political pressure on councillors from residents, combined with a nation-wide trend, has succeeded where logical argument and reasoning failed. Such is the way of uninspired politics.

Otherwise, nothing much has changed. Development continues as before with apartment blocks and townhouses, and larger detached houses crammed onto small blocks. You can’t blame developers. It is their business to make the most profit possible out of providing what the customers will buy within the planning parameters they can get away with. If neither the buyers not the council demand better developments, why would a developer waste money taking a chance?

 

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