Another month has passed us by in 2021 but finally the work has started on the duplication of Gundaroo Drive. It has taken a number of years to get this important work underway and after almost a decade of constant lobbying through budget submissions and the like, we will see this crucial thoroughfare that links us to Gungahlin deliver better outcomes for those who live, work and play in our district.

The ACT Government has delivered on the traffic controls at Owen Dixon Drive, but more needs to be done with Kuringa Drive to make it a safer connection to West Belconnen. With more people moving into the West Belconnen area over the next decade and beyond, the demand on our roadways will only increase and the northern corridors are just as important as those to the south.

Speaking of growth, we come to this month’s big topic: Kippax Centre expansion. Our efforts to bring the spotlight back onto this important project has produced some interesting results. Media were quick to pick the story up again, as were EPSDD once word got around the community. We had written to them in January and throughout February; the result now being that we have engagement with the Directorate again and some understanding of next steps for the site investigations being undertaken.

While we make no judgement of why this work was to be undertaken without wide consultation and community awareness, the fact that state of play has changed is the important thing.

As is the updated design from the Owners of Kippax Fair and Canberra Town Planning. The BCC Committee have been consulted and involved in the new design which we believe is ready for socialising with our community. There are improvements that bring this version more into alignment with community expectations that have been discussed regularly since 2014; it’s been pleasing to see this embodied in so many of the changes in this design offering.

While it won’t meet everyone’s expectations, we have taken the view that we can’t wait for a “perfect solution” to materialise. There are concessions that need to be made by all parties to ensure a quality piece of community infrastructure is available to the generations who follow us. I’m reminded of the concerns raised in the 1970s with the design of Benjamin and Eastern Valley Ways that capped and redirected flood plains through the new Town Centre down to Emu Bank. The general opposition was that this would create all kinds of environmental and water movement problems that would last for generations. What did occur was better design options, changes to water disbursement and catchment practices; since then the BTC has flourished and I see no barrier to that in this process.

Glen Hyde

Chair, Belconnen Community Council

15 March 2021