WITH Floriade over for another year, it has been wonderful to see so many people enjoying Commonwealth Park and the lake.
But during the week, the shores of Lake Burley Griffin are full of city joggers and office workers out for a lunchtime stroll, but one wonders where they are going.
Notwithstanding the national institutions, there are few “destinations” along the foreshore. The lake has the potential to be a constant and central source of social activity for Canberrans, bustling with cafes, street performers, live music, community exhibitions, coffee and gelato stands.
Most other major cities have embraced the potential of their waterfronts. South Bank in Brisbane and Melbourne spring to mind as places that offer quality experiences for residents, while also catering to tourists.
Commonwealth Place with its restaurant, kiosks and jetties sets a new standard in Canberra – but we need much more of this. It is the informal dining opportunities and ad hoc entertainment that are missing.
Griffin’s plan envisioned building to the foreshore so that Canberrans could access and enjoy the lake. Together with the new development west of Civic, we need to make real linkages between the city and the lake.
Let’s kick-start the West Basin redevelopment – after all, the planning framework is already there. Development of this otherwise isolated area would create new residential and commercial opportunities, generating wonderful civic activity along public lakeside promenades.
Of course, it will be important to build quality public spaces that invite and engage visitors and residents alike, to have real event management, to provide access for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport, and to maintain the beautiful existing setting.
We built our lake, and it is up to us to see what we can make of it.
Catherine Carter is ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia