Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 February 2015) . . Page.. 465 ..
The future growth of Canberra as a prosperous and sustainable city cannot be secured through extending the city further and further at its edges. We must balance the growth. So I acknowledge Ms Fitzharris’s support in delivering urban renewal in Canberra in the suburbs and town centres and of course look forward to the priority of the first stage of the light rail network.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Justice, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform) (12.08): I am pleased to speak in support of this motion. Members will know that the Greens and I are supportive of quality urban renewal. Done well, it has an excellent capacity to help achieve the social, economic and environmental outcomes that will ensure we have a healthy and green city in the long term. Urban renewal provides opportunities to create long-lasting, environmentally efficient infrastructure to implement forward-thinking planning for the city that will ensure we are a sustainable 21st century city.
I have talked before in the Assembly about some of the quality examples I have seen in other cities. I cite in particular a trip I took to Portland, Oregon. It is considered to be a highly successful example of a city that has transformed itself through the construction of light rail and quality urban renewal. It has an interesting history. The city first grew to a point where its roads and freeways were starting to interfere quite seriously with the amenity of the city, loss of neighbourhoods, growing congestion and pollution.
They consciously decided to turn away from car-based infrastructure and more strongly pursue public transport, walking and cycling. They have made some very positive progress. They have seen significant light rail-related development that has provided benefits to the community. They have seen whole areas of the city that might have been run down or in some cases quite derelict transformed into vibrant neighbourhoods that are full of families and city life. An area such as the Pearl district in Portland is a perfect example of this. Putting in the light rail line led to an area that was formerly warehouses and really quite run down being transformed into a neighbourhood that is full of people, vibrant venues and families playing in the parks.
Interestingly, what we have seen is that the developers are now actually moving away from one-bedroom apartments and moving to two and three-bedroom apartments, acknowledging the arrival of families into these sorts of areas. Not only has this brought life back to the city; it has also given a great boost to the economy. They have seen a new wave of innovative jobs and businesses flowing in. They have been able to adopt ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets in Portland, which they appear to be on track to meet, and they of course have some great transport alternatives for the population.
I will not say that Portland has done everything right. They still have a variety of traffic and other problems to deal with. But it is quite clear to me that the concerted efforts that they have made with quality and environmentally friendly urban renewal, primarily focused around light rail, have made a positive difference and mitigated problems in the city that would otherwise have been much worse.