Newsletter no.17 from Ald Anna Reynolds - January 2017
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>> Hobart in 2017 – issues to watch

Apart from swimming in the sea and reading books, the summer school holidays are a great time to reflect on what I expect to deal with at Council and what we can all hope to achieve in the coming year. So I'm flying some kites - here’s my take on issues to watch (and hopefully take an active interest in) for Hobart this year ... not in order of importance!
Onwards and upwards

There will be applications for buildings that are not compliant with our current planning laws from developers that ignore our building height limits. Some people, including a few Aldermen who are animated in their derision of current height restrictions, want Council to modify the rule book. Council approved a study into our height limits in the city, which I expect will be released early in the year.
In 2017 there will be a discussion about this, and it’s important to be crystal clear about the motivations for any change. To my mind, some of the questions we should be asking are:
  • Who benefits from changing our height rules?
  • Will going higher detract from our much loved and valued heritage character?
  • Do we have independent advice about how tall buildings could create an unpleasant and even dangerous city centre? Evidence from other cities in the ‘Roaring 40s’ latitudes, like Hobart, suggest that wind damage can be worsened by the design and height of buildings – for example, should we know if the wall that collapsed in Bathurst Street (seriously injuring one person) in 2016 was caused by wind shear from the tall building next door?
  • Do we need to consider the public value of sunshine in the city and how it's loss from shadows cast by tall buildings (particularly in winter) may make the city less attractive to visit?

Planting character in our streets

Early in the year we will be releasing our Street Tree Strategy for community input! This is exciting because we have never had one before. While we have lots of awesome bush around Hobart, the city has many streets that are stark for their lack of trees.

Street trees are really helpful to soften the streetscape, decrease traffic speeds, reduce the load on drainage infrastructure, and extend road and footpath life with their shade.

There’s even research indicating that motorist road rage is less in green urban areas, and that street trees increase property values.
State election looming

Rumours are circulating that there may be a state election later in 2017, so what’s in it for the City of Hobart? There are heaps of things on my wish-list, as the state government’s plans and policies (or lack of them) can have a major impact on our city, either negative or positive.
  • I hope we have a public transport election, as the Tasmanian Government spends by far the least per person on public transport of all states and territories. This translates into Hobart having the lowest public transport usage rates of all capital cities in the country! It's no wonder we are stuck in car traffic, when there has been so little investment in alternatives for people.
  • Mt Wellington / kunanyi is the heart of our city and the Council is both a major landholder and a huge contributor to the management of Wellington Park. But this year a massive decision for the Park may be taken out of our hands...if the State Government decides to declare the cable car a ‘Project of State Significance’.
  • Amalgamation of Councils is being pushed by the state government and I expect there will be further discussion and information for and against proposals to merge Councils. One thing I will be pushing for is that any decision on amalgamation must go to the community before Council takes any action to approve or reject amalgamation. The Local Government Act allows for Council to run an Elector Poll on important topics. It’s essential that the community be empowered with information about the pros and cons and be given a chance to vote on this matter.
Don’t steal our sun!

Also on the agenda are the Tasmanian government’s plans for a state-wide planning scheme that proposes to overhaul the way our city develops.

While the focus has been on cutting complexity for those building, many residents who contact me are devastated that new rights for neighbours to build up and close to the boundary is seeing sunshine stolen from their living areas, gardens and solar panels.

The impact of badly conceived state-wide laws has the potential to cause a lot of distress, and I expect there will be more debate about this in 2017.
Brave new world?

Strategy is about shaping the future, and this year will see the ongoing development of Hobart’s next transport strategy. I don’t see much value in strategy-making (and the time spent in meetings doing it) unless the intention is to drive change.  
We need change in Hobart’s transport system – we have poor public transport, growing congestion, and patchy infrastructure for walking and cycling. Transport emissions are the biggest contribution most of us make to greenhouse gas emissions. Health problems are rising because of physical inactivity.
We have plenty of inspiration to draw from. There are many examples, around Australia and the world, of cities that are setting and meeting bold, tangible and measurable targets for changes to transport. What many are aiming to do is reduce the dominance of cars in favour of transport options that create a healthy, active, people-friendly, uncongested, low pollution city. Sounds inspiring?
Upping the ambition
on climate change

Over recent years, the City of Hobart has done a fantastic job in reducing its energy use and installing solar panels. In 2017, I hope we continue this tradition and take some additional action.

In the middle of the year we will receive professional independent advice about divesting our funds and borrowing from banks that fund fossil fuel developments, like big coal mines.

We are also due to finalise a new climate change mitigation policy which could see us doing more to lead emission reductions across the city, not just in Council buildings.
Locking in a City Deal

Prime Minister Turnbull expressed his interest late last year in making a ‘City Deal’ with Hobart, and this year we need to lock in this deal. A City Deal is a tripartite agreement between three levels of government about the strategic issues that all three will advance with common focus and funds. The Lord Mayor will need to advance these discussions with the state and federal government, but as Aldermen we will have input. I think the focus of a City Deal needs to be on projects that will shape our city for the next 20 to 50 years, create exciting new opportunities, and ready us for the future.

Negotiating a good City Deal in 2017 is a great way for the City of Hobart to finally get light rail to the northern suburbs and advance the MONA vision for Macquarie Point.
A thinking city...
This year I hope the City of Hobart will nominate to be recognised as a UNESCO Global City of Literature. There’s been lots of positive feedback from writers (and readers!) since my motion to investigate this was passed by Council. The next step is agreeing to proceed and then putting in a bid. As one writer said to me, “I was in Edinburgh when they were nominating to be one and it was BIG! If we can pull this off it will put us on a global map in a new and really exciting way.”
I hope other great ideas will be advanced in 2017, like the National Truth and Reconciliation Art Park at Macquarie Point in Hobart.  The idea is for Hobart to lead the nation and for the first time, acknowledge, remember and respect a forgotten chapter of our history - the frontier wars. It’s important for the City of Hobart to get behind this bold and thoughtful proposal.










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Previous editions:
Newsletter 1 (Jan 2015)
Newsletter 2 (Feb 2015)
Newsletter 3 (April 2015)
Newsletter 4 (May 2015)
Newsletter 5 (July 2015)
Newsletter 6 (August 2015)

Newsletter 7 (October 2015) - street planning
Newsletter 8 (December 2015) - affordable housing
Newsletter 9 (February 2016) - bushfires and urban bushland
Newsletter 10 (February 2016) - traffic congestion special
Newsletter 11 (April 2016) - what are Aldermen there for?
Newsletter 12 (June 2016) - Council/Senate newsletter
Newsletter 14 (August 2016) - woodchip trucks through the CBD?
Newsletter 15 (September 2016) - SOS and South Hobart development
Newsletter 16 (November 2016) - 'biggering' Hobart

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Anna Reynolds · Town Hall · Hobart, Tas 7000 · Australia

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