The article was published in the Canberra Times editorial section on October 5, 2015.
The proposed redevelopment of West Basin will have one disastrous implication that for me makes the proposal totally unacceptable: it will destroy Canberra’s greatest community event; Floriade. This is because the redevelopment means that car access to Floriade will be impossible as there will be no public parking in West Basin. Once people become aware of this, I feel sure that all Canberrans will join me in drawing a firm line in the sand.
The Land Development Agency tells us that there are “alternative plans” to keep Floriade alive. Such as relocating the event to Haig Park. Floriade in Haig Park? Don’t make me laugh! The whole attraction of Floriade is its unique location.
For the period it operates during Spring, the festival transforms Canberra, making it into one of the botanical wonders of the world. Rivalling – perhaps excelling – the famous Jardin Anglais on Lake Geneva, which attracts tourists from all over the world. To move the festival anywhere else would destroy its unique ambience.
There have been previous efforts by money hungry bureaucrats to destroy Floriade. Back in the 1990s, the ACT government imposed a fee for anyone visiting the festival. The catastrophic fall in visitor numbers, and very vigorous community opposition, had the initiative reversed.
If the destruction of Floriade is allowed to go ahead – in a bureaucratic campaign of a thousand subtle cuts – I, for one, will stand at the barricades!