The long-planned redevelopment of Lake Burley Griffin's west basin is edging closer, with consultation starting on plans for a 500 metre-long boardwalk arching around the waterfront.
The National Capital Authority has called for public feedback on the City Renewal Authority's plan to reshape the lakefront between Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and Acton Peninsula.
The creation of a lakeside promenade is central to the government's long-term vision to transform the so-called Acton Waterfront precinct, which could one day include up to 2000 apartments and a large public park.
The authority's application was submitted just days after the ACT government struck a deal with the Commonwealth to secure about 2.8 hectares of land on the lake bed.
In exchange, the territory has surrendered two parcels of land in Curtin - including the district's popular horse paddocks - to the National Capital Authority for new diplomatic embassies.
Both sides of the deal have proven contentious. Residents and horse riders have already launched a campaign to protect the Curtin horse paddocks, which has the backing of Liberal frontbencher Giulia Jones. Long-held animosity towards the lakefront's transformation has also reignited since the land deal was finalised in late March.
The early stage of the waterfront redevelopment - which was expected to cost about $35 million - will involve "reclaiming" the section of lake bed secured in the land swap.
A consultant's report, published in the consultation documents, said that would be achieved by pouring a granular material into the water to create a "landform".
A 500 metre-long, eight-metre wide boardwalk would built along the newly defined lake edge, running from Henry Rolland Park to the boat house.
Two new jetties are also planned.
The boat house, which the ACT government bought in highly controversial circumstances, would be demolished to make way for the boardwalk. About 120 trees planted along the lake's edge would also be axed, according to the consultant's documents.
A City Renewal Authority spokeswoman said a detailed assessment of the trees found the majority of those earmarked for removal had reached the "end of their safe useful live".
The spokeswoman said the public park which would eventually be established on the reclaimed land would include "many more" trees, shrubs and "quality usable spaces" than there were presently.
The authority hoped construction work could start later this year, subject to approvals and the ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project was scheduled to take two years to complete, according to the spokeswoman.
City Renewal Authority chief executive Malcolm Snow said on Tuesday that the redevelopment would create a "place for all Canberrans". He said "well over" 30 per cent of the wider development precinct would be preserved as public space.
But Lake Burley Griffin Guardians member Mike Lawson said the project was merely laying the foundations for private apartment developments, which are set to be constructed in the precinct from the middle of the decade.
Mr Lawson told ABC radio that the precinct represented the "best development site in Canberra". But he feared it would be turned into a private "enclave", which would restrict public access to the water's edge.
"It's the best real estate site in Canberra and it's in danger of being turned off bit by bit like Kingston Foreshore was, for all sorts of developments to go on with no stable character or great vision for what is going to be done there," he said.
Meanwhile, an online petition calling for the Curtin horse paddocks to be "saved" from redevelopment has attracted more than 900 signatures.
"It is a travesty for our beautiful bush capital, which must be preserved for future generations," the petition stated.
Mrs Jones, whose electorate of Murrumbidgee covers the Curtin horse paddocks, has added her voice to the campaign, recording an adaptation of Joni Mitchell's famous song Big Yellow Taxi.