Re­turn of traf­fic hasn’t driven a boom

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

IS there any­one with any ideas which does not in­volve park­ing? The plight of Townsville’s CBD is not new.

I have done an ex­ten­sive study, af­ter lots of walk­ing and talk­ing to ev­ery busi­ness in the city, of its prob­lems when I launched a pe­ti­tion to re­tain Flin­ders Mall.

As a re­sult, I did send Townsville City Coun­cil a num­ber of ideas ( not all mine) which might have con­trib­uted to the sur­vival of the CBD. Some of them have been im­ple­mented ( long term park­ing in the de­funct sound shell and the den­tal clinic is one ( al­though I pro­moted cheap park­ing and free shut­tle rather than the re­verse).

As usual some­one made a de­ci­sion based on very du­bi­ous find­ings – the mall had to be re­opened to traf­fic. Lots and lots of money was spent on “re­ports” and “fact find­ings” to sup­port the re­open­ing of the mall with very lit­tle con­clu­sive ev­i­dence.

Even the Bul­letin got into the game with car­toons show­ing tum­ble weeds rolling down our city cen­tre. There were con­stant sto­ries about “crime” in the city, of anti so­cial be­haviour ... “give the dog a bad name” what bet­ter when you want to kill it?

Mean­while traf­fic was rein­tro­duced to the mall and the boom promised to the busi­nesses has not even­tu­ated as in­deed they knew it would not. A good coun­cil is one that bal­ances long term and short term plan­ning but from very early on the idea of sus­tain­able growth has dis­ap­peared.

Ev­ery de­vel­oper wants a shop­ping cen­tre as an an­chor to their project, and the coun­cil, with rates dol­lars in their eyes are glad to oblige.

In the past, com­mer­cial zon­ing was scarce, valu­able and strictly con­trolled, now we have more shop­ping cen­tres in Townsville, per head of pop­u­la­tion, than any­where in Aus­tralia. No sur­prise then that our CBD has lost its shine. This is just one of the rea­sons, but there are many. Sadly I won’t be able to put my point across to the “city image com­mit­tee” as I was ob­vi­ously not deemed wor­thy of be­ing part of this group.

It seems that un­less a pro­posal has $ m signs in front of it, it can­not be con­sid­ered. While I do not dis­miss the sta­dium or the Su­per­cars, I can as­sure you they have limited im­pact on the for­tunes of the CBD, es­pe­cially when com­pared with the Fes­ti­val of Cham­ber Mu­sic.

Dis­miss the CBD if you wish but this is the image of Townsville that tourists and vis­i­tors take away with them. JOELLE FLEM­ING,

Townsville City.

VE­HI­CLES BACK: The scene just prior to the re­open­ing of Flin­ders St to traf­fic in 2011 af­ter it be­ing a pedes­trian mall for 30 years.

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