Page 4340 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 25 October 2017

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know, for better footpaths, crossings and traffic islands as part of the age-friendly suburbs program.

The government has also announced, as we have heard, improvements to the bus network to better connect the Belconnen and Gungahlin town centres. As both town centres undergo significant growth, the government has acted to meet the demand for better inter-centre travel. The new black rapid bus route travels between Gungahlin and Belconnen every 15 minutes or better Monday to Friday. As well as providing quicker travel times, riders are also benefiting from two months free travel.

We have also continued to deliver on our commitment to build better health facilities in the region. The construction of the new UC public hospital has progressed significantly during this year, with around 300 workers on site every day. The $212 million hospital will provide world-class health care, with the first dedicated subacute and mental health rehabilitation services in the ACT. In this year’s budget we committed $16 million to operationalise the hospital in preparation for its opening in 2018.

In its first year the government has also shown its support for the creative arts in Ginninderra. We are conscious of the importance of art in promoting a creative and happy community and have made significant commitments to fund art spaces around the electorate. The Link at Ginninderry was officially opened in April this year and has created in itself new opportunities for the arts in west Belconnen. The Link is a new, architecturally designed space alongside the Strathnairn Arts Facility where artists can make and exhibit their work.

We also acted on our commitment to fund stage 2 of the Belconnen Arts Centre. $15 million in this year’s budget is funding a multi-use town hall and performance space, improvements to workshop spaces, new dance studios and an expanded exhibition space in the Arts Centre. The Belconnen Arts Centre is an arts hub in my electorate, akin to a town hall, and this development comes off the back of an active campaign by many people, including the volunteers, the staff and the board at the Belconnen Arts Centre as well as the broader community who campaigned in a huge community backing. I am watching stage 2 of the development unfold with great anticipation.

My electorate has also benefitted over the past year with upgrades to recreation facilities and, like Ms Cody, as a dog owner I know firsthand the importance of dog parks as a resource for dog owners, especially in high-density areas such as the Belconnen town centre. The parks not only give our canine friends a chance to stretch their legs, they also give owners an opportunity to relax and meet others in the community.

The Belconnen dog park got an upgrade this year with two water stations, plenty of new shade trees and resurfacing of bare ground areas as well as a new seat in the smaller dog park which I of course have been making use of. The improvements beautified the dog park and made it a more comfortable place to pass the time while our dogs run around.

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