Enough with the skyscrapers: let's keep Canberra the Bush Capital

Bush Capital

I read your story on Nick Georgalis of Geocon ("More than just the bush capital", Sunday Canberra Times, November 18) – what an unbelievable achievement to go from building houses to where he is now in just a little over 10 years, but I disagree with the notion we are moving away from being the bush capital and into being the next big thing in Australian cities.

Send your opinions to letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au Photo: Fairfax Media

Send your opinions to letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au Photo: Fairfax Media

In fact, I think people are wanting to live here because of the availability to escape into our beautiful bush, be it mountains, national parks or just the farming communities all within 15 minutes. Canberra still has the country feel compared with any other big cities in Australia, and the trick for guys like Nick and our government is to try and retain this for generations to come. Keep the Bush Capital theme, this is what can make us unique in the future and make us different to any other place.

Paul Keir, Majura

Sorry, but many Canberrans loathe what Nick Georgalis and his company represent and what they are trying to do to this city and its skyline. Contrary to Mr Georgalis' beliefs, Canberra has had a "lifestyle", and it is one that has been attractive to many residents who have deliberately chosen not to live in a city which resembles "major international cities" – a concept which Georgalis makes clear is less about quality of life and more about furthering his company's self-interest in relation to partnerships with "global investors". To many of us, 113-metre tall residential towers are an abomination that have no justification in Canberra.

I trust this puff piece about Geocon and its intentions will be balanced by a similarly sympathetic article about Emeritus Professor Ken Taylor AM and how the vision of Canberra as a "city in the landscape" is being tragically sacrificed.

What are goals?

The ACT government says it is committed to zero road deaths, zero net greenhouse gas emissions (much of which comes from transport), and supporting a healthy and active community. It wants to make Canberra Australia's walking and cycling capital, including making Canberra Australia's most walkable city.

Yet the ACT government seems unwilling to reduce the speed limit to a level consistent with these goals ("Push to cut speed limits on Northbourne Ave once light rail introduced"Sunday Canberra Times, November 18). Just what are its goals?

For a long time many organisations, including Living Streets Canberra, have been calling for reduced speed limits, particularly in CBD areas like Northbourne Avenue.

The 2018 National Road Safety Strategy Inquiry concluded "there needs to be a dramatic change in road safety management, given the inadequately acknowledged national road injury epidemic and the national costs to the economy now – and in the next 30 years – from road crashes".

It made 12 recommendations aimed at changing the face of road safety in Australia. These have had cross-party support at Commonwealth level. All jurisdictions, including the ACT, have agreed to work with the Commonwealth to develop an implementation plan focused on the recommendations. Ministers are due to consider it in early 2019. We look forward to the ACT co-operating to implement the recommendations.

Reducing the speed limit on Northbourne Avenue would be a great start. We all need safe roads.

G. King, Living Streets Canberra chair

The proposal from the Pedestrian Council to reduce the speed limit on Northbourne Avenue to 30km/h has merits if the light rail was in isolation.

Northbourne Avenue is currently an arterial road for people in north-west Belconnen and Gungahlin, but the ACT government's City Gateway proposal proposed Northbourne Avenue would lose its arterial road status to produce a pedestrian and cycling boulevard without any explained alternative for the traffic which uses Northbourne Avenue from north-west Belconnen.

This traffic is set to increase with the Ginninderry and CSIRO land developments coming online, with an estimated 20,000 dwellings or an additional 80,000 people, most who will drive to work, school etc.

There is meant to be integrated transport planning in the city so those responsible for it should come clean if Northbourne Avenue is to be downgraded and explain what are the alternatives for the approximately 180,000 people of Belconnen by 2030 before it is too late.

Bad treatment

The disgraceful treatment of the Uighurs described in Focus in last week's Sunday Canberra Times is no surprise to those who know communist history – after all, various communist regimes directly or indirectly killed at least 80 million people in the 20th century, repressed hundreds of millions more and had scant respect for human freedoms.

Having found communism didn't deliver the hoped-for utopia, they abandoned everything communist except the single party state, a tough police force to support it and re-education for opponents.

Otherwise, communist countries like China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are now more free enterprise and capitalist than we are, happily pursuing personal wealth.

All of which means that 80 million or more died for nothing, serving only to prove that communism was a very bad idea and fighting and winning the Cold War was, without doubt, the moral thing to do and a very good thing for the world.

Doug Hurst, Chapman

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