Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 10 April 2018) . . Page.. 1123 ..
and mobility around the community” as well as developing an “age-friendly physical environment that promotes independence and safety”. Likewise, it commits the government to implementing design features and recreational facilities that encourage seniors to remain physically active, to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to be socially engaged.
In a similar vein, the Heart Foundation also recommends that healthy, active neighbourhoods include facilities like footpaths and road crossings as well as spaces that help people to feel happier, such as green areas, parks, places to relax and recreation facilities.
The closest public park to the three retirement villages is the Birrell Street playground, bounded by Birrell Street on one side and by Knaggs Crescent on the other. Both of these streets intersect Burkitt Street, but Birrell Street is much closer to all three retirement villages. Neither of these streets, however, includes a footpath of any kind.
Despite this lack, I have been told that seniors frequently use these streets for exercise in order to avoid the busyness of Burkitt Street. In fact, the current street-view image of the intersection of Birrell Street and Knaggs Crescent on Google Maps shows an older Canberran using a walking frame to make her way down what is a rather narrow street.
Clearly, this situation does not satisfy the stated outcomes in the government’s active ageing action plan. Expecting seniors of any ability to share the street with cars and other motorised traffic neither improves their mobility nor promotes their safety. Without question, better enabling Page’s many older residents to feel confident enough to take much-needed and much-desired walks to the neighbourhood park requires a designated footpath to be added to Birrell Street. This is true whether people are walking unaided, walking with the assistance of walking sticks or walking frames, or travelling with wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
Because the three retirement villages and the only footpath in Burkitt Street are located along the north side of the street, residents of the retirement villages, as well as other pedestrians, also need a marked pedestrian crossing to connect the existing footpath with the new footpath in Birrell Street. This is necessary because Burkitt is a very busy street, with a relatively large volume of traffic.
This petition also seeks the installation of certain equipment in the Birrell Street park. I should note here that the ACT government made an upgrade to playground equipment in this park in May last year. This has certainly been a welcome addition, but the signers of this petition are suggesting additional equipment that would make this park even more appealing across all generations. Specifically, they are asking for benches where tired residents could rest from their exercise, some with shade, as there are currently only two benches in the park and one of them needs repairing. They are also asking for a swing set for very young children for whom the new equipment is too advanced.
Making the Birrell Street park attractive for families with very young children, for seniors and for everyone in between would go far in fulfilling the ACT government’s