Public spaces, regional planning and koalas

061 Bloomfield Street Park 12 July 2015 crop

One of Redland City’s public spaces – Bloomfield Street Park

Letters to Redlands2030 this week address efforts to promote discussion about the South East Queensland Regional Plan and the plight of south east Queensland’s koalas which should be a key issue in regional planning, but doesn’t seem to be.

Thought leadership series…was it serious?

I had no idea what I was walking in to when ordering my tickets online to Council’s promotion of New York’s design guru Ethan Kent from design company Projects for Public Spaces. The man our council has engaged to advise them on city planning, I think. Many of us today have no idea what we went to last Monday night. Was it for real or was it a wind up?

Today’s google search of this American company shows Ethan Kent has 8 pages written as a self promoting testimonial and monument to himself. He’s the company’s Vice President and from what I read it’s only employee besides his father Fred who founded the company Ethan has inherited.

It was clear from the onset Ethan’s mind set was art for art sake and his personal concept of liveability. He proudly presented slides of community seating that in his opinion creates culture. Slide after slide of people gravitating to oversized artist painted seats all looking rather lost with nothing to do. Millennials making out on a seat with a group of strangers with his comments ‘bringing a feeling of love’ caused half the room to swap butt cheeks. But my favourite, the $15 Big W pool side banana lounges in Time Square and people lying watching the neon signs with their sunnies on had me in sweats. Was this a wind up? It was about here 2 councillors got up and walked out. This was no wind up. It was for real and we the rate payers were quite likely paying him to be here to consult to who knows what in Redland Council. I doubt he had spent time consulting in council and then preaching to the residents for a free lunch.

“Design for traffic and traffic will come. Design for people and people will come” was the opening and continual mantra from this man who’s only employer appears to be his father. New York has the perfect living design 20160213_041623_resized20160213_041432_resizedbringing people into the town centre Ethan believes. Not a vehicle in site in any slides. Had his pictures been photo shopped or cropped because my photo’s taken in the same place 4 months ago show a continual sea of traffic congestion. That’s what you get when there’s over 14,000 taxi licences in NY operated by 54,000 drivers 24 hours/7 days a week not including Uber which is uncontrollable in NY. It’s a huge problem for the NY mayor who is not popular after announcing he’s cutting licences by 20% , putting 10,000 people out of work so traffic can move while the people queue. The century old horse rides have to go too. So much for Ethan’s mantra.

When asked how he suggests we control crime with the masses of people coming he was the one to shift butt cheeks. I had to question whether he was being truthful or in denial with his restless and side shifting response ‘in our experience around the world, when people have culture in their city they become self regulating’! That created a rumble. In his home city of New York, the perfect example of create a place for people and the people come, there’s over 33,000 police which increased recently by another 1,300 to keep the people self regulating. Not. The NYPD are also there to move the homeless around and hopefully out of sight of tourists but there was no mention of any of this by Ethan Kent of Projects for Public Space.

Birds, wildlife, large trees were all missing in his slides which was pointed out to him. He thinks getting the balance needs to be more for the people than the green aspect. The words wildlife or animals never came out of his mouth. The closest we got was a slide with fake grass.

It reminded me something the tour guide said when asked where’s the animal in Central Park? “There’s no animals, only squirrels” she said. “You need to go to Australia if you want animals” she quite seriously noted to the tour bus. Now that’s a baby boomer who knows what she’s talking about.

Del B, Cleveland

Do Koalas really need another expert panel?

Nobody can seriously believe that an expert panel is the answer to the effective extinction of Koalas in South East Queensland.  Any Minister trying to look like they are doing something as opposed to doing nothing can arrange a panel.  So what does Steven Miles, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef, do?

He appoints an expert panel. In the absence of a real action or a real decision a committee makes for colour and movement.  Mere political camouflage. Meanwhile koalas just die-off and the Koala Coast is no more.

If the Queensland Minister for Environment and Heritage can’t do something serious about protecting Koalas what chance has he got to do something about the Great Barrier Reef, land clearing laws or keeping the Moreton Bay Marine Park out of the hands of developers?

Steven Miles seems well meaning but he is no match for the Seeney-Trad team, their seamless passing of the developers baton when the Government turned from LNP to ALP caught many by surprise.  In fact the Toondah development was given a 450% boost in yield under Trad’s watch.  What chance koalas?

The Premier, the Deputy Premier and the Minister should act NOW!  How about a moratorium on the removal of all habitat trees for say 5 years, or call on the both major parties to deliver a Koala Protection Act after the Federal election.  But an expert panel …its a cop out. By the time the Committee reports there will be no koalas to worry about….

As John Williamson sings……

Our koalas are all dying, can it really be
A national disaster, a world catastrophe

….Goodbye Blinky Bill Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Dave S, Bulimba

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Published by Redlands2030 – 11 June 2016


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5 thoughts on “Public spaces, regional planning and koalas

  1. Written with authority, integrity, and a credit to the issue. Contributors and Del B of Cleveland in particular are to be congratulated. Compelling testimony!

  2. Who found New York’s design guru Ethan Kent, who sounds like a one-man band ? How could he even remotely advise RCC on City Planning… perhaps only of various artistic seating designs? I resent ratepayers money wastefully spent on this man when many of our parks are in need of new play equipment for community enjoyment. There are hundreds of youngsters now in foster care, met a young woman on my neighbourhood park with an 8-yr old boy who thinks he’s on holiday but is being cared for permanently by carer as parents are drug addicts. He’s lucky being with member of the family. So many are not. Equipment needs upgrading with more added…so it angers me that money is spent flying an artist to Australia to benefit our community…how! I lived and worked in New York in late 1960s…a concrete jungle..only green space being Central Park. Streets congested, if a dead body was lying on pavement, people walked around it. New Mayor cleaned up the city, sounds like present day mayor is trying to reduce traffic by cutting taxi licences by 20%. Deb B of Cleveland has seen what New York City is like today. Glad to leave there to work in Washington DC where at every turn there is a park….the coolest and shadiest one to visit lunch time on a hot summer day is Lafayette Park opposite White House. Among hustle and bustle of traffic it is peaceful & quiet the only sound being squirrels rustling the leaves. It’s a beautiful city because it was a planned city. Wanted to share this with you all.

  3. This is the invite I received to the next talk on the Gold Coast. I believe the State DILG&P are the ones organising it, not our local governments.

    “You’re invited to a Thought Leadership Series as part of the Queensland Government’s Shaping SEQ program.
    The event will feature a presentation from TODERIAN UrbanWORKS founder and former chief planner at the City of Vancouver, Brent Toderian. Brent will share his extensive global knowledge and experience on advanced urbanism, city planning and urban design and how it can shape South East Queensland’s future.
    The Thought Leadership Series aims to inspire thinking and ideas for the Shaping SEQ community conversations program.
    The Queensland Government is seeking great ideas to help develop the South East Queensland Regional Plan and the Shaping SEQ ideas hub will also be at the event.
    Presenter: Brent Toderian, TODERIAN UrbanWORKS founder and former Chief Planner at the City of Vancouver”

    So perhaps it is not the fault of our council that these trips are financed from a State budget??
    My question on the floor on the night at Cleveland Library was given the Redlands in the past had a brand of food growing and given we cannot stop subdivisions, “how can we combine the need to retain food growing spaces while providing for housing?”
    Ethan’s answer was to have farmers markets in our public places!!!
    Nice, but where do we grow the produce for these markets Ethan???

    To myself it is pretty straight forward that our planning regulations (whether State or Local) need to ask developers to set aside say 10% of lot areas to provide new settlers areas to grow food, larger than their backyards. Generation Y who take up these food areas create Public Spaces around which people congregate and interact. Council retain ownership of these spaces (which can exist as park until they are taken up for growing food) and lease them to individuals or groups.
    “Organic Cropping” needs to be allowed in these residential areas.

  4. What great letters you have this week! Del B expressed exactly my feelings about the Thought Leadership presentation. I attended the one at West End where we were assured by Jackie Trad that the series of talks were about “starting conversations” for the South East Queensland Regional Plan review. It was only about quirky ways of improving urban living, fixing up laneways etc. I had great hopes that the Cleveland one would be a little more directed to addressing the pressures that are affecting the Redlands. What a disappointment as Del B has so eloquently explained! With regard to the letter about the Koala Panel, I was part of the previous Koala Task Force and we said much the same as Dave S – stop cutting down their trees. Not that it made it into the recommendations in quite those words (the government was writing them up!). Were the recommendations followed? No. But now we hear past measures are not working so we have to have another panel ….on and on it goes until the annoying problem of koalas solves itself by their becoming extinct.

    • Lyn I recall sitting down with you, and other talented people who had great knowledge of Koalas, there were positive recommendations, but it got bogged down in public service waffle.
      When Newman was elected he sacked most of the department that planned and researched koala issues, Deidre De Villiers an absolute expert who worked in Redlands , knew the suburbs and how the koalas moved through. Some koalas were tagged and there was a great understanding of how they lived and moved about, but SADLY Deidre and others were all sacked. Lost information forever, the work they did was never released and now they want to have another panel, what an insult to those who worked so hard to protect and save our precious koalas

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