Planners and pundits have responded to a call from the ACT shadow minister for planning Alistair Coe, with some saying his proposal for traffic through City Walk and Gamera Place would "kill" Civic.
In an opinion piece in The Canberra Times, Mr Coe proposed pedestrian malls in Civic such as Garema Place and City Walk be opened to more general traffic which he said would "help bring vibrancy and patronage" to the area.
Associate professor at the University of Canberra's Department of Urban and Regional Planning Richard Hu rubbished the suggestion, saying "opening it up to traffic will kill the space".
"When you want to revitalise a space you need to increase the pedestrian movement not the vehicle movement," Dr Hu said.
Planner Hamish Sinclair, a research fellow at UC who specialises in capital city strategic planning, was also cold on the concept.
"All that would simply do is it would have the appearance of activity, a person driving past isn't doing anything in that space, and at the end of the day parking is never the answer," Mr Sinclair said.
He said the biggest issue was that areas such as Garema Place were left out of the numerous urban renewal projects under consideration by the ACT government.
He said Garema Place and City Walk were a microcosm of the problems of the CBD of Canberra and needed to be integrated in the wider city plan.
He also said the area needed to be more "visually interesting" with creative citizen-led initiatives to combat the "significant drain" posed to the area from the Canberra Centre.
Head of the the Council of Small Business Australia Peter Strong laid the blame at the feet of the QIC owned Canberra Centre accusing them of having "a local retail monopoly" which he said affected all of Civic.
"I agree with some sort of change to the way traffic is controlled in Civic but we need to make sure it is not directed to the Canberra Centre," Mr Strong said.
Some members of The Canberra Times' Facebook commentariat were quick point fingers at homeless people who sleep rough at Garema Place.
Leigh Watson, executive officer, ACT Shelter said there were fewer homeless people sleeping rough than in other Australian cities and much of the city's homeless were "hidden" in the backs of cars and on friends' couches.
She also said it was disappointing to see some Canberrans see homeless people as a "race apart from the rest of us".
Susan Helyar, director of the ACT Council of Social Service, said while homelessness was on the rise it was not as visible in Canberra "partly because we have a government who provides a higher number of services and refuges per head of population than other jurisdictions".
ACT planners will meet on September 22 to discuss options to improve the vitality of Canberra's city and town centres at a seminar at the University of Canberra.