Better Bridge Series – What North Fremantle Residents Want And Why

We are pleased to present a series of articles on why we need a Better Bridge for Fremantle.

This second article, by Ingrid Maher, provides a North Fremantle residents’ perspective on the Bridge controversy, and was the subject of Ingrid’s presentation to the Better Bridge Fremantle Town Hall Meeting on Thursday 10 September 2020.

I am local resident of North Fremantle, born and raised, and lived there most of my life. My contribution to this campaign is to present the views of the North Fremantle community who stand to be affected by the current Main Roads proposal.

In my working life, I am a town planning consultant. It was my love of North Fremantle that drew me to town planning – specifically, the desire to protect this special place from outside threats, and help to make it a better place.

The position of the North Fremantle community is:
• We do not support the current Main Roads proposal and bridge alignment.
• We accept the need for a new bridge, but plans need to consider the wider strategic planning for the area, and be decided in FULL consultation with the community.
• Our mission is to get the State Government to PAUSE THE BRIDGE PROJECT to allow proper consultation before the new bridges are built, in order to get the best long term outcome for our suburb and much loved town centre.

The first issue is the current proposal poses a significant threat to the amenity and quality of life of our North Bank residents, and threatens the heart of our community, the North Fremantle town centre.

Secondly, the community engagement process undertaken by Main Roads is a bogus consultation process and totally unacceptable by government and community standards. The plans have been drawn, the renders prepared, and the project is out tender, with no real community input. This is ‘top down’ planning at its worst, and we are furious.

This form of engagement may have been acceptable in the 1960s, but this is 2020, and we have a right to have a say in decision making, and we deserve better.

In North Fremantle, we are tired of government running roughshod over our suburb with their major road building projects. It has taken our community and town centre years to recover from the Stirling Highway carving up of our suburb in the 1970s.

With this Main Roads proposal, our community and town centre is under threat again, with a similar lack of consideration for our people and connections to place.

Our community and local businesses have worked hard, and invested so much, for many years, to create a beautiful and vibrant town centre that is much loved by our community.

The current proposal does not consider our town centre, or our community, and misses a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to build a Better Bridge, in a better location, that better meets the needs of our community, for generations to come.

The questions we want answered by State Government are:

1. Why isn’t Main Roads following its own consultation guidelines which states:
Ensure stakeholders, immediate communities and interested parties are able to influence the early stages of project planning where possible. We say, it’s not only possible, but critical that the community are given the opportunity to influence the bridge project now.

2. Why aren’t the community being properly consulted on this complex and important Swan River Crossing, in relation to a State heritage listed traffic bridge that means so much to the community?

3. Where is the community views reflected in the Main Roads proposal?

4. What about the North Bank residents who will be adversely impacted by the current proposal, and have been given no consideration in the design process whatsoever? An elevated bridge with retaining and acoustic walls within metres of residents. How is this acceptable??

5. Where is the transparency in decision making?

6. Why haven’t we been presented the outcomes of previous studies and options to comment on by Main Roads?

7. Where is the costs and benefits analysis of all options, especially in light of the Westport announcement, which has not been factored in, and presents significant opportunity for the growth and development of the Leighton Peninsula and surrounding area.

This proposal does not pass the amenity impact test, does not pass the community engagement test, and does not pass the sniff test for what we expect from a modern democratic government. Quite simply, UNACCEPTABLE.

To get a better outcome for our community, we need to unite and rally together to make our voices heard, because it is only people power that will put a stop to the current bridge proposal.

We call on the State Government to PAUSE THE BRIDGE PROJECT NOW, and undertake proper consultation before the new bridges are built, to ensure all options have been properly considered and we get the best long term outcome for Fremantle.

Consider these options, for example.

Find out more about the Better Bridge Campaign here.

Others in the Better Bridge Series
* Peter Newman, A ‘Done Deal’ or an ‘Elegant Solution’?