The reprieve granted to a tract of park land near Cooleman Court that was to be razed for a temporary car park shows good collaborative government at work, a Greens minister who helped lead the community campaign against the project says.
Greens member for Murrumbidgee Emma Davidson, a minister in the ACT government, threatened to cross the floor in the Legislative Assembly if the car park proposal was not withdrawn, the Sunday Canberra Times understands.
When asked directly if this was the case, Ms Davidson did not deny the claim.
"What were my exact words? I think my exact words to [Labor Transport Minister] Chris Steel were, 'I'll think about not lying down in front of the bulldozers'," Ms Davidson said.
"But you know what, I thought about it and we really wanted to save the park."
Mr Steel on Thursday announced the plans for a temporary car park at the corner of Brierly and Parkinson Streets in Weston had been abandoned and the funding would be spent on upgrades to Brierly Street.
"Whilst the DA was approved for the revised plans, it has been clear through the subsequent appeals to ACAT and other representations that the temporary car park does not have support. That is why the ACT government has decided not to proceed with construction of the temporary car park," Mr Steel said in a statement.
Ms Davidson said the change showed democracy in action, and hoped it would be a template for future Greens' support of community initiatives.
"A community group had their voice heard and I think that's a wonderful thing. Sometimes it takes having a few Greens in the Assembly to be able to advocate for your green spaces, and for community voices to be heard. But the right decision was made and it was made because the community put a really good case," Ms Davidson said.
Nearby residents - especially those who live in Watling Place townhouses which back onto the park - rallied to save the space, including organising picnics to show the site's importance.
"It's always a great feeling when you're working on something and you're able to have some success with it and make some progress. But I think in the bigger picture, this is also a great demonstration to other groups in the community that have something they really value and is really important to them, that it's worth speaking out and it's worth speaking up and that your voice will be listened to," Ms Davidson said.
Funding for the temporary 150-space car park on the site was included in the 2019-20 ACT budget.
A car park could only be built on the site, zoned for community facilities use, if it is deemed to be temporary. The site was expected to be released for a community facilities development after the car park closed, but residents now want to have the area rezoned to protect it.
In April 2020, the plans were scaled back to a 65-space car park.
Freedom of information documents released last year showed officials within the Transport Canberra and City Services directorate suggested applying to have the land use changed after the temporary car park was completed to allow it to stay permanently.
A development application was approved in November, prompting residents to appeal to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The ACT government abandoned the plans before the tribunal proceeded to a full hearing.