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Canberra Today 10°/15° | Saturday, September 25, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

It was a dark and stormy night… well, in Dickson

Another dark, winter’s night in Dickson… “It is very dark for anyone walking in the evening.”

Three months on and Access Canberra hasn’t fixed some streetlights in Dickson, the public-toilet debate continues and Icon Water’s fun campaign goes down the drain… here’s another “Seven Days” with IAN MEIKLE.

THERE’S a dark side to Dickson and it’s been that way for at least three, dark, wintery months.

Ian Meikle.

Here’s the photographic, after-dark evidence that, I’m told, if you look hard, really hard, there’s an unlit light pole in there. Too dark for me, I couldn’t see it. And that’s the point. 

The monolithic Access Canberra seems indifferent to the appeals (five to Fix My Street) to turn the streetlights on for the block in the middle of the Dickson streets bounded by Marsden, Davenport, Bates and Marsden (again).

Separately, columnist Paul Costigan recently described the ACT’s bureaucratic one-stop shop as a “one-stop road block” to people trying to get anyone to take notice.

My Dickson snout complains that: “All the street lights on the inner circle of that block have not been working for at least three months and it is very dark for anyone walking in the evening.” Any public liability bells ringing, Minister Chris Steel?

NEWS editor Danielle Nohra’s magnum opus on the state of public toilets in Canberra in last week’s “CityNews” attracted a chorus of “hear, hears” from readers. 

Lisa Teasdale emailed saying: “Apart from in the major shopping complexes such as Westfield, I am unsure if there are any public toilets in Gungahlin, especially around the parks of the new areas. Clean, open and well-lit amenities that cater for all walks of life are essential.” 

So did Sue Dyer, who says the Downer shops should be added to the toilet tally.

“The empty structure/shell of the original 1960s toilet remains and the Downer Community Association is keen for it to be upgraded but has been rebuffed often,” she says.

Then V Ann Lewis wrote to say there are no WCs at the Red Hill shops, but with a lot of new development going on, couldn’t the developers be asked to fix things if the ACT government won’t?

She says there’s The Parks, “which would conceivably be expecting lots of small children given the money spent on the play areas already built, and also the Villa Rossa retirement village, which will result in more elderly residents to the area”.

She says she foresees the need for toilet facilities close by the shops and besides “I am sure this suburb must pay suitably high enough rates to deserve money spent on this convenience.”

And up popped John Milne with this story: “Earlier this year, as I was standing outside IGA at Chapman, a young man, who was obviously unfamiliar with the area, came rushing up to me, and asked: ‘Where is the public toilet?’

“He seemed desperate.

“So I said: ‘There is no public toilet here. Your best bet is to go into the adjacent doctors’ surgery and use the one in there,’ which he did.

“He was so relieved – in more ways than one!” 

Here’s an updated list from Danielle on other suburbs you won’t find a public toilet:

  • Duffy shops is in the process of being “revitalised” by the ACT government (footpath upgrades, new seating and trees), plans don’t include public toilet facilities. 
  • Even though Crace shops have a grocery store, medical centre, pharmacy, cafe, pub, beautician, hairdresser, physiotherapist and gym, there is no public-toilet facility. However, there are public-toilet facilities at the recreation park about a kilometre away. 
  • Florey shops is another neighbourhood shopping centre without public-toilet facilities. 
  • Parents with young children might be forced to cut their trip short to the developer-built Denman Prospect Ridgeline Park playground when they discover they’re without toilets. 
  • Hackett shops don’t have any public toilets. 
  • Same with Franklin. While it has about eight stores, including a supermarket, cafe and pharmacy, there’s no toilet in sight. 

AND while we plumb the S-bend, here’s some news that has Icon Water “excited”. It’s a “fun” drain-care campaign called, sigh, “Free the Poo”. 

Apparently, Canberra is ranked as one of the worst Australian cities when it comes to total sewer main breaks and chokes and Icon Water spent north of $1.7 million clearing blockages in 2019-2020

“The message is simple: help us ‘free the poo’ so it flows to our treatment plant instead of being blocked up, or worse, flowing back to you,” says Icon Water MD Ray Hezkial.

Ostensibly, it’s a war on wet wipes flushed down Canberra’s toilets. Unlike toilet paper, they don’t break down causing blockages at every stage of the treatment process. 

And how do the Iconeers clear a blockage?(Spoiler alert) Manually, says Ray: his “Blockage Busters” team gets down in the sewer and tears apart what he politely describes as “huge clumps of rubbish”, mostly made up of wet wipes. Now there’s a nomination for worst job in Canberra. 

Ian Meikle is the editor of “CityNews” and can be heard on the “CityNews Sunday Roast” news and interview program, 2CC, 9am-noon.

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Ian Meikle

Ian Meikle

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