Wednesday 15 December 2010

It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it

The Cairns Post's Council Haven't Done Their Job campaign, is having a three day "blitz" along the CBD's Grafton Street.

It will include "a street clean, free WiFi and temporary landscaping and greenery, live entertainment." One blog follower suggested I warn readers to keep away from the CBD – or at least where some decent ear protection, as Barron River MP Steve Wettenhall will be performing with his Get Reel band.

I have mixed opinions about the so-called 'revive' campaign. On one hand, the city belongs to the people and it's residents, and should not be the sole jurisdiction of a Council - which often operates in autonomy to the people that it serves.

However, direction from past administrations have resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars mis-spent and look what we ended up with.

The Queensland Government's idea to take a bus lane right through the heart, is as smart as re-electing Kevin Byrne and Desley Boyle.

The graphic that appeared recently with some fake metal palm tree cutouts and a few pot plants, looked like the kids from Freshwater Primary were allowed out with their crayons when mum and dad were at the boozer.

It's a no brainer that parts of the city are a pigsty.

It's not an inspiring place to take visitors. Locals say it's unsafe at night, and the parking and transport issues are a mess, to say the least. The town's crown of City Place, is a design disaster. Whilst the palm that is the stage, is a great addition, the rest, which is the result to two failed attempts from 2000 to 2007 to re-build and re-design, is probably the worst example of public infrastructure in Australia.

Metal seats, that face away from each other, making conversation impossible, is only the beginning of the eyesore. Trees and grassy knolls were removed by the last Council to keep Aboriginals from loitering. It was an overtly racist and shameful recreation of what used to be a relaxed, tropical and conducive environment.

There's little cohesion or co-operation in the central city area between businesses, Council and the community. Many residents feel the city area doesn't belong to them - that it's for the tourists. You'd be hard-pressed to discover how many local residents actually venture into the central city to relax and enjoy what it offers. They just don't. This year's Cairns Festival tried to address this, but realised that they needed to have activities in the burbs for the same reason.

Regardless, we should all get behind the plan to spunk up and clean up our town, but I'll leave you with some salient questions, that have been totally ignored in this recent debate...

What councillor heads the central business district revitalisation committee? What councillor has been the one representing the interests of the CBD since March 2008? What has been done in the CBD since the last Council election?

BYGONE AND BE-GONE Byrnesy had the fountains, the grass, and the trees removed. Good one.


Bryan Law said...

I'll make myself unpopular with some here by saying again that I like Gavin King personally and professionally. With the CBD campaign, Gavin's trying to revitalise the parish pump style of politics that preceded the transformation of politics into management and service monopolies.

If the CBD campaign can mobilise some grass-roots initiative, then good-oh.

As for the Qld government, well it's the Department of Transport that feels like it has the right to constrain City Place and the CBD just because they might want to build a new bus terminal sometime in the next thirty years - even though they have achieved nothing for public transport in the last ten years. I'll be keeping an eye on Mr King to make sure he holds them accountable, and to make sure he holds business accountable as well. As for Alan Blake... we could have him bronzed and make him a permanent erection on the Port Authority lawn. Let him get along in his relationship with pigeons.

Unknown said...


I think Gavin is trying to redeem himself for the damage he did to the efforts to save the Yacht Club.

But I agree that his CBD initiative is great, despite the crazy conspiracy theories that this is all done to divert attention from the Cultural Precinct. I think his on line chat is worthwhile too.

So I have forgiven him for his ignorance about the Yacht Club issue and some of the atrocious stuff he has written in the past.

Maybe he is slowing getting into the way of life here and is looking at things differently than he did when he first arrived in town.

Now if he only could talk some sense into McKenzie about certain issues....

Tony Hillier said...

I know Steve Wettenhall bashing is a popular sport on this blog, but for your information he is a fine musician (and, yes Hortense, an honorary member of the Snake Gully band), and the band Get Reel contains some of the best players in the state. They perform Celtic flavoured acoustic music up to a very high standard, so earplugs will most certainly NOT be required.

Tony Hillier said...

Regular readers of this blog will have noted my criticisms of the Cairns Post and Gavin King from time to time. But, credit where credit is due, their campaign to revive the CBD has been exemplary and has succeeded in galvanising the community. I tip me hat to them!

Alison Alloway said...

I worked in Shields Street during the 1980s and 1990s. One thing I vividly recall is seeing a Council workman being dive bombed by angry flying foxes as he strove to whipper snip the nature strip along Shields Street. The trees at that time had several flying foxes in them. Probably they were trying to form a new roost. The moreton bay fig alongside the City Library is filled to bursting point with flying foxes. Over the years I have seen their numbers escalate. I think therefore that any planting of trees in the "new" revitalised CBD should be flying fox repellent...

Anonymous said...

Yes, Alison, let’s pretend we don’t share the Earth (and Cairns in particular) with flying foxes. Furthermore, the fact that many tourists marvel at the flying foxes should not be a consideration. I wonder how many other cities have flying fox colonies in the heart of the CBD.

VickieF said...

I for one would love to see a water feature back in the City Place.
At the moment it's hot and arid- unless it's pouring with rain!
I wondered why the fountain and hillocks were removed and honestly hope the reason truly wasn't the one stated earlier.
I applaud Gavin and his merry band of helpers in their efforts to clean up this tired old town. It really needs an injection of caring from locals...tourists aren't going to do it for us!
I'm going to be in Grafton St. sometime over the week-end and I hope to see you there!