Green space in ever-expanding cities is a rare and precious community asset. When I heard about the plans to improve the Enoggera Park Precinct I was excited by the prospect of an enhanced park space that met the neighbourhood’s expectations and the needs of community sports organisations.
But – as happens all too often – I learned that once again, the planners had failed to properly consult directly impacted communities and had wildly missed the mark. Perhaps of greatest concern is that the plans involve paving over open green space and replacing it with car parking serviced by roads that will directly impact residents whose properties neighbour the parkland.
At a community rally against the plans held on the site of the planned carpark, I heard from concerned residents who had not been consulted by Brisbane City Council about the intention to “pave paradise and put up a parking lot” virtually in their backyards. I heard from sporting groups of all codes concerned about how moving their home fields could potentially cause increased impacts such as noise and light pollution for their neighbours. I heard from users of the park that do not want to see their treasured recreational space replaced with bitumen.
We listened to Cr Andrew Wines (LNP) attempt to justify the plans, alluding to community engagement that supposedly stretched back to 2018. In my experience, if community engagement is done genuinely and openly, impacted communities generally don’t feel the need to sacrifice their precious weekend to rally. If people are being heard and truly listened to, there is little need to protest.
So what has gone wrong?
The key to answering that question is to look, not just at the Enoggera Creek Sport and Recreation Precinct Plan, but also at other projects in and around Brisbane. For instance:
- Roma Street Parkland is set to lose 5 hectares of public green space to private development and car parking
- the “new” Victoria Park will feature a huge amount of green space being converted to parking (just the latest in a long line of cuts to green space at this heritage listed park)
- the plans for the new Olympic stadium, on the site of the Gabba, feature a giant mall that seems to include space for private development which instead could be reserved for public park space
- recent plans for New Farm Park would have seen a traffic thoroughfare from Brunswick Street to Lamington Street through the park…
The messages are clear. Those in control of our governments and planning systems do not value green space in the same way that communities do and those in control of our governments do not respect the right of communities to be involved in decisions that affect them.
This is the exact opposite of what the Greens and I stand for, and that’s why I will continue to stand with communities that are facing these challenges every way I can.