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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Steve Evans

ACT government to invest $35m in Acton Waterfront development

Andrew Barr announcing the funding. Picture by Karleen Minney

Maintenance, sports and recreation facilities and an improved city centre are a priority in the upcoming budget, the ACT government has announced.

It has allocated a total of $98 million to improve public areas across the ACT. At the heart of the plan are big upgrades of the waterfront at Acton and of Garema Place.

Acton Waterfront will become "a high quality amenity", ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said as he stood in the wind on the site to announce funding of $35 million for it over six years.

He said there had been no change to the original plan which was to have the 30,000 square metres of park and boardwalk backed by "mixed use" buildings - "not necessarily apartments", Mr Barr said.

The schedule for the big revamp of the area will not follow the pattern used in Kingston where the whole area was developed as one.

With the Acton Waterfront, the park will come first and the mixed use development (housing, restaurants, shops amongst the usages) will follow. "It's not a project which is going to appear overnight," Mr Barr said.

Its next stage will be to bring in new soil to fill the currently rocky area behind the "boardwalk" (which is actually not boards but concrete). The soil will be allowed to settle for 12 to 18 months ahead before further work goes ahead and the construction of the park itself begins.

"Funding in this budget will allow the future park to be built which will include cafes and pavilions, accessible public toilets, barbeque areas, a new large playground and event lawns," Mr Barr said.

On Garema Place, Mr Barr said, "It could be better".

To revitalise it, the ACT government would put in new street furniture and perhaps reconfigure the plaza itself, with changed entrances to make the space more congenial.

He conceded that there were empty business premises there at the moment but he envisaged a process where people would be attracted to an improved public area, and more people passing through would also bring more businesses in.

An additional $25 million has been promised for the City Centre, Acton, Braddon and Dickson to revitalise the area and keep it desirable amongst both locals and tourists.

Another major investment is for the protection of Canberra's trees, with $24.2 million going into their maintenance, care and planting.

A rapid response mowing team will be implemented to better serve the broader Canberra community following grass growth after extreme weather.

These resources will also be allocated to weeding when there is little mowing work.

"Canberrans can expect to see more mowing, tree maintenance and planting to ensure Canberra has well-maintained streets lined with healthy trees," Mr Steel said.

"Our quality of life in Canberra is second to none and we will continue to invest across the city in keeping our streets and parks looking good with recreational amenities that improve our community's wellbeing."

Sports and recreation areas are also a priority, with investments going into sporting fields and parks.

Additional parking, new upgraded ground lighting and new toilet facilities will be added to Hawker Playing Field over two years.

Yerrabi Pond District Park will be upgraded with $3.2 million over two years going into toilet and picnic facilities, and more parking and lighting around the pond.

Telopea Park will also see improvements after being recognised as one of Canberra's oldest parks, with $492,000 work of upgrades going into formalised paths, lighting and landscaping.

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