Page 3978 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 30 October 2013

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destiny. We have learnt from the most progressive cities in the world that have reversed their motorway-dominated ways—cities such as San Francisco, Boston, Portland, Barcelona, Seoul, Toronto—which have either demolished or moved underground their inner city motorways to allow much improved access to their waterfronts. Canberra now joins that list of international exemplars with Parkes Way a smart boulevard allowing a seamless connection of our CBD to Commonwealth Park and to the lake.

One of the delights of our city is West Basin. It is a truly public waterfront for all Canberrans and visitors to the city. Our early place-making efforts to enhance the sense of public ownership and to program and support new activities, events and festivals created an authentic and memorable place. And, like Christchurch and other places, pop-ups and containers, outdoor cinemas and the like were used to seed activity and to experiment and test different ideas and formats. The pilot water gardens along the waterfront and upper catchment measures were adopted and adapted in other locations around the lake to enhance lake water quality and biodiversity. The lakeside aquatic centre, urban beach, public promenade and a separated bicycle path generate an extraordinary level of activity in the precinct year round. Families, students, young people and grandparents all flock to West Basin. It is the place where the daily life of our city intersects with special events and national and international ceremonial occasions. The formal distinction between the local city and the national capital has been blurred.

Since the completion of the Australia forum project and the city stadium there has been a profound impact on the city centre and the territory economy. More visitors are attracted to the city and they stay longer. The number of hotels and occupancy rates and the day and night-time economy of the city centre have increased dramatically. City Walk, anchored at one end by the city stadium, has become one of the most sought-after locations for cafes and restaurants. The Australia forum is a world-class facility. Its unique and flexible design has provided for significant growth in the Canberra convention and ceremonial events markets, as is appropriate for the national capital, whilst boosting the economy of the city. It underpins the visitor economy and has elevated the international profile of our city. The forum reinforces the primacy of City Hill and plays an important civic role in the delivery of a unique cultural arc that addresses the hill.

One of the most enduring changes in the city centre over two decades is that it has become a city where people live. There are now over 20,000 residents in the central city area. The doughnut city of the 20th century that stagnated and declined in favour of spreading suburbs ever further outwards from the CBD is over. After the inception of this city plan and the city to the lake project, that trend of the latter half of the 20th century has been reversed.

As more people choose to live in central Canberra, the character of the city centre has changed. It has changed radically and changed for the better. New residents bring a stronger sense of neighbourhood and place to the city. They are actively engaged in caring for and improving the city centre. Their presence ensures the support services they needed were provided to meet their needs.

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