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Canberra
Saturday, June 19, 2021

Car parks or consultation for Yerrabi Pond

Businesses on Yerrabi Pond foreshore, Gungahlin’s main recreation area, are still waiting for carparks the ACT Government promised eight years ago, according to Gungahlin Liberal MLA Leanne Castley.

In 2013, the government undertook planning work for up to 28 new car spots along Nellie Hamilton Drive, after businesses and customers complained of limited parking.

“Eight years on, the government is still in power – yet nothing has happened,” Ms Castley said.

She called on the ACT Government to explain why the extra parking had not happened, and to provide a timeline for when and how it would occur by the last sitting day of August.

Some business owners – including the Curves gym and the Thai Herb restaurant – had been forced to relocate, and several cafés had shut due to lack of parking, Ms Castley said.

Chris Steel, Minister for Transport and City Services, said the government recognised the importance of parking for residents and businesses in the dining and hospitality area.

The ACT Government has commissioned a report to investigate the feasibility of additional parking on Nellie Hamilton Avenue, Mr Steel said. Observations last year suggested parking was limited, and car spaces were occupied for most of the day.

Mr Steel amended Ms Castley’s motion to instead continue consulting the Gungahlin community. This was passed, although the opposition voted against it.

ACT Labor committed last year to spend more than $300,000 on improvements to Yerrabi Pond. Mr Steel said the government wanted to hear from the community how those funds should be used.

“We want to know how people use the Yerrabi Pond recreational area, how often they visit, and what improvements they’d like to see,” Mr Steel said.

More than 1,100 people signed a petition sponsored by Gungahlin Labor MLA Michael Pettersson in April to fix Yerrabi Pond, detailing the need for better parking, toilets, lighting, and community facilities.

In response, the ACT Government is running an open community consultation through the YourSay website, closing in June. So far, more than 700 people have completed a survey.

The government has also held three pop-up sessions at Yerrabi Pond so far this month, and talked to Transport Canberra and City Services officials about the parking problem.

“Given the consultation happening as we speak on improvements to Yerrabi Pond, which is receiving high levels of engagement from the community, I think the way forward is to continue to consult with the community on the upgrades that they want to see to Yerrabi Pond,” Mr Steel said.

“This may include parking. It may include other improvements as well. The government will listen to what the community would like to see, and invest in Yerrabi Pond based on these priorities.”

Ms Castley said Mr Steel’s amendment was inertia. “The government will continue consulting with the Gungahlin community. What that means in plain English is anybody’s guess, while the government continues to procrastinate with its taskforce, consultations, and discovery phase. The government is blind to our small businesses’ needs.”

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