Griffiths / Why Civic doesn’t need saving by flowers

“There is a lot of low-hanging fruit before we ‘save’ Civic by fencing it off for months of the year to grow tulips for the amusement of geriatric interstate tourists,” writes Lowbrow columnist JOHN GRIFFITHS

AND so they come, once again; people, who barely know Civic, with their big plans to take our favourite spaces away and turn them to their profit.

John Griffiths.

John Griffiths.

The latest is a half-baked plan to convert Glebe Park into a permanent Floriade facility with the commercial overflow trailing up City Walk.

Glebe Park is, apparently to those who don’t use it, out of the way and little utilised.

We’re also told City Walk and Garema Place are in urgent need of “saving”.

One wonders what planet these people are orbiting.

It’s true that in the heart of the bleak mid-winter people often prefer to be indoors than braving the elements.

But for nine months of the year both spaces are, if not humming with activity, actually playing host to a lot of people at lunchtime and in the evening.

It’s certainly true there are many empty shopfronts in Civic these days. This is no doubt a concern to the owners of these properties but one can’t help wondering if lowering the rent they’re asking might fill things up pretty quickly.

The remarkable thing is how well the city’s heart has held up to the self-inflicted shocks of our so called city planners.

The transformations of Braddon, New Acton and Kingston Foreshore have sucked a vast amount of trade out of the area.

Throw in the vast, glittering Canberra Centre, just a block over with its handy parking and air-conditioning for good measure, consider the conglomeration of big-box retailers plonked willy nilly out at the airport and Civic is doing astonishingly well.

Finally, the open spaces of the city centre are managing, despite being haunted by the unregulated, high-pressure sales tactics of the charity muggers and the aggressive foul-mouthed panhandling of the mentally ill.

If we’re serious about revitalising Civic there is therefore a lot of low-hanging fruit before we “save” it by fencing it off for months of the year to grow tulips for the amusement of geriatric interstate tourists.

It’s as if the people pushing these plans seriously think we’re stupid.

But… “Whither Floriade?” you cry?

Apparently, the National Capital Authority has lost its patience with having chunks of Commonwealth Park converted into a low-rent retail park with a flowery fringe for months of the year.

Moving on from just why the ACT ratepayers need to pay for an event to fill hotel rooms (it appears it’s just something we have to do, no matter how much you might think this would be the responsibility of hoteliers), one casts one’s eye around the city.

If only there was a location owned by the ACT Government, with thrilling views, on a major transport route.

If only, from that location, the flower beds would be visible for miles around to bring joy to the hearts of everyone who paid for them and not just the officially numbered attendees.

If only that location already had horticultural infrastructure and a year-round staff already paid for by the ACT Government.

In short, wouldn’t it be nice if the ACT had an arboretum that could host Floriade?

Oh wait…

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