The Barr government is trying to urbanise parts of Lake Burley Griffin by stealth to balance its books a former long serving head of the National Capital Development Commission will tell a public meeting called to discuss plans to redevelop the West Basin on Wednesday night.
Tony Powell, the NCDC boss from 1974 to 1985 and a long standing critic of the government's dependence on land sales revenue, said money was driving proposals to fill in part of the West Basin to create land for units and commercial development.
He said the Barr government was trying to "justify rezoning for medium to high density residential development and sale of land in the foreshore area in order to meet its budget imperatives" and that it was "prone to corruption of due process in the administration of land and property development".
Wednesday's meeting has been called by the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians who said the West Basin Waterfront redevelopment plan was in danger of slipping through under the radar.
"I am concerned about the lack of knowledge in the community [about] the West Basin development proposal," Guardians convenor, Juliet Ramsay, said. "Community consultation has definitely been inadequate."
Ms Ramsay said neither the chief minister, Andrew Barr, or the planning minister, Mick Gentleman, would be attending the meeting, which begins at the Hughes Community Centre at 6pm, despite long standing invitations to take part.
Officials from the Land Development Agency will explain the proposal, which includes plans to fill in up to 80 metres of the lake beyond the current shoreline and to allow four and six storey tall apartment blocks and commercial sites, on the night.
Malcolm Snow, the chief executive of the National Capital Authority, will also speak.
ACT Opposition leader, Jeremy Hanson, sent a message of support for the meeting organisers.
"The Canberra Liberals focus for growth in residential apartments is in Civic and the town centres, not the lake," he said. "We do not support the Labor and Greens Government's current plans to sell off West Basin simply to generate income to pay for its tram project."
Mr Powell said the recent Kingston Foreshore Redevelopment had set a "dangerous precedent" for West Basin.
"[The final subdivision layout] maximised the amount of saleable land and reduced the level of recreation, public assembly and open space amenity," he said.
"The overall effect is one of walled streets, few pedestrians, no front gardens and no visual connection between pedestrians and ground floor dwellers. In other words, an overall effect that is a special kind of desolation."
Mr Powell said the view from the Kings Avenue Bridge was now "reminiscent of 19th century Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham".
He said the threat to public open space was not unique to the West Basin.
"The alienation, rezoning and development of public space is happening everywhere, particularly in the garden city suburbs of inner North and South Canberra, basically as a consequence of the government's `urban intensification strategy' to boost budget income.
"The fundamental problem[s] are the inadequacies of the Barr government which is, broadly speaking, environmentally destructive, ignorant and devious."