All of the political turmoil in the Redlands in recent times can be explained by one simple question, asked of the current Mayor and her supporting councillors – whose values do they hold?
THE COMMUNITY’S VALUES
The community’s values are clearly articulated in the Redlands 2030 Community Plan: Creating Our Future (April 2010) – the community’s plan to achieve the community’s vision for the future. It describes in great detail the kind of Redlands we want to be living in when the calendar page turns over to 2030.
Redlanders have long understood that land is finite and that the natural resources that sustain life and provide quality of life (water, trees, wildlife, marine life) are also finite. The proposition that population growth can occur forever and without consequence was rejected by our community years ago. Within the Vision Statement of the Redlands 2030 Community Plan are these words –
“We will lead Australia by acknowledging there are limits to population growth and having our planning documents reflect this…”
We expect that the men and women elected to Redland City Council – today, tomorrow, always – will honour the Community Plan as their first and foremost guide, for their task is to make sure the community’s values are upheld and that genuine progress toward the community’s vision is incrementally realised, year by year by year…on the way to 2030.
Accordingly, we expect that any Redland City Council elected over the years would deliver Planning Schemes and other land use planning decisions that work to define the limits of population growth and protect our natural resources – and intrinsically, protect our quality of life.
THE DEVELOPERS’ VALUES
The Development Industry on the other hand appears to hold a different set of values, seeing only the opportunities to profit by developing our green lands (foreshores, parks, rural lands); the back yards of older homes built on large blocks of land (infill) and even the lands beneath the sea (RAMSAR-listed Moreton Bay, part of the Toondah Harbour proposal).
There is nothing surprising here. Indeed, it is the nature of the beast. Let off the leash, the Development Industry will likely consume the land (and build into the sea) until there is nothing more to take. The lasting consequences of overdevelopment are neither their responsibility nor indeed their concern, for they will have moved on to other, still-green pastures.
WHERE IT ALL GOES WRONG
In truth, the Development Industry should be easy to contain, held on a short leash by good governments and good planning until they can be put to good use, released to build what needs to be built, then held tightly again.
Unfortunately however, the Development Industry can make political donations. And where donations occur, the focus on community vision and values can become blurred by pro-development perspectives. In addition, the Industry has learned that the temporary jobs that come with construction can be used to influence Local and State Governments, desperate to demonstrate job creation and bereft of ideas beyond building houses.
Having bought into building houses as a means to create jobs, governments must now promote the mantra that “you can’t stop population growth”, which of course is a nonsense. We have to hand a letter dated 14 September 2010 from then Premier Anna Bligh advising –
“Accurate dwelling targets are particularly important for making sound decisions about the location and funding of new infrastructure. Accordingly, councils including Redland City Council, are encouraged to revise dwelling targets should they wish to do so as part of the dialogue around infrastructure requirements.”
(What a great idea – matching population growth to the capacity to provide infrastructure!)
THE PARAMOUNT QUESTION
And the answer? It appears they have a diminished focus on the vision and values of the community. Indeed, evidence of their pro-development perspective abounds, with the big ticket items being:
- a Draft Redlands Planning Scheme (Draft City Plan 2015) that drives massive population growth (about 50,000 more people) through urban expansion and densification, promotes sell-off of parklands, removes much habitat/tree protection, and removes conservation and environmental protection from important and sensitive areas
- the Proposed Toondah Harbour Development Scheme that would see 10,000 more people (with 7,000 more cars) in 3,600 units in 10 storey towers on land reclaimed from Moreton Bay
- the Redland City Council preliminary approval for the ‘Shoreline’ development in Southern Redlands, (another 4,000 houses for 10,000 people bringing 7,000 more cars) despite this application being clearly out of sequence and in direct conflict with the State Government’s South East Queensland Regional Plan which designates the land as ‘Regional Landscape & Rural Production’.
SAFEGUARDING THE FUTURE
We Redlanders have a long and proud history of stepping in when those we elect lose their way. We are willing to volunteer our time and energy to safeguard the future.
We don’t do it for joy.
We don’t do it for profit.
We do it for all that makes life in the Redlands unique and worth fighting for – the bush, the Bay, the last of our red soil farms, our much-loved koalas and the leafy green semi-rural environment that sustains them.
What we want to do however, is elect a Mayor and Council whom we can trust to hold fast to the community vision and values that will safeguard the Redlands, now and into the future.
As we head into the last week of the election, the fundamental question to be asked of every candidate is therefore very simple – whose values do you hold?
Community Alliance for Responsible Planning (CARP) Redlands Inc
17 March 2016