Well, what a year 2020 was! Thankfully we have made it into 2021 without further tragedy from natural disasters and our COVID strategy appears to be working well.
For many of us, the Canberra Hospital has been a part of our lives in some way, shape and form. This month we will receive a briefing on the proposed Master Plan and its impact on us. As our major medical services provider in the ACT, any changes to what occurs in that precinct has ramifications on our other hospital, Calvary, which sits in the heart of our district.
The land releases in our town centre have been a source of contention for many years, but this time around we’ve had solid and clear communication on the Government’s intent for almost a year now. With the long vacant section of Lathlain Street and the “circus” site on Emu Bank, this release will draw a fair amount of scrutiny from the community and we encourage you all to actively participate in the process.
I also want to bring you up to speed on the Kippax Centre expansion and the lack of visibility and progress to date. As you know, we brought all the stakeholders together in late 2019 to get the process moving again and have the outstanding issues reduced through new design options. The EPSD Directorate was in a place to make a decision about the land use options on the back of strong community engagement through the DV 361 to the Territory Plan. Several positive recommendations came out of that process and we thought a pathway to having the project “shovel ready” was near and achievable. Then we had a delay to the consideration and decision to go to open tender for the land rather than direct sale to a preferred party, and the subsequent Territory elections meant another delay until at least November. Here we are in February and we are no clearer as to a defined timetable nor any voluntary sharing with us of the details of the next steps.
In January, BCC and the owners of Kippax Fair wrote to the Executive Director of EPSDD to get some clarity on where the process was at. With more construction starting in May at Strathnairn, the need to service another 50 families in the West Belconnen basin is putting more strain on the Centre with parking and accessibility becoming a real issue every day.
Last week we received a response and were shunted down the pecking order to the Deputy Director Dr Erin Brady, who provided us with little structure on timeframes and when our community would see some progress on this project which has been in the pipeline since 2014. We are again drafting a response in order to give you some transparency and visibility of what is happening with this most important community infrastructure asset and as soon as we have information, we will share it with you. There will be an update on the project from the Kippax Fair owners at our March meeting and if there is sufficient appetite, we will hold an in-face meeting at Raiders Kippax.
And as always, a plea to our members to think about stepping up and becoming a committee member. We are in need of new faces to help take us through 2021 so if you have just a couple of hours to spare we would be grateful for your help!
Belconnen Community Council
16 February 2021