Maintenance of public parks and places

A letter to the Minister  concerning a number of matters in relation to the maintenance of parks and public places in the Woden Valley area.[teaserbreak]

(note: the date of this representation is not recorded)

Mr Bill Wood MLA

Minister for Urban Services
Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory
GPO Box 1020
Mr Jon Stanhope MLA
Chief Minister
Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory
GPO Box 1020

Dear Mr Wood,

The Council is writing to you concerning a number of matters in relation to the maintenance of parks and public places in the Woden Valley area.

1. CUPP performance monitoring results for the Woden Valley

We were pleased to have a public presentation at one of our public meetings earlier this year by a senior officer in Canberra Urban Parks and Places (CUPP), Mr Ian Baird. He took up an invitation by the Council to address the role and services of CUPP with a focus on Woden as well as responding to questions and issues raised by citizens present at the meeting.

One aspect of Mr Baird’s presentation was CUPP’s performance monitoring and regular surveys undertaken by CUPP which sought community feedback on satisfaction levels with various elements of CUPP’s services.

Mr Baird’s presentation of these survey outcomes was based on Canberra wide results. He indicated that the evaluation results were produced on a district by district basis also. We would appreciate your kind assistance in making these results available to the Council as they pertain to the Woden Valley; we appreciate that they may be somewhat dated.

2. Woden Town Park and Eddison Park Pond

We are very pleased to see recent maintenance work undertaken at Woden Town Park including replacement of life expired trees and shrubs and the planting out of flower beds – an excellent job. However it has been brought to our attention that there are a number of other routine, long standing maintenance tasks still outstanding there, in particular the need to replace vandalised lights and to renew the paintwork on lamp stands and similar structures…unfortunately this maintenance work is well overdue.

In relation to Eddison Park Pond, our WVCC Chair has made a number of approaches to your Department over the past year requesting consultation regarding its very derelict state. You will be aware that it is one of Woden’s very few, if not only, water feature. Our Council has some suggestions, including possible engineering solutions that we would like to discuss.

3. Other matters relating to Woden’s Parks and Places

A number of specific areas of concern relating to various sites within Woden’s parks and public places have been raised members of the Woden Valley community at our public meetings and in informal discussions within the WVCC committee. These are addressed in the Attachment as well as recommended courses of action. We would appreciate your commitment to see these concerns addressed and responded to along the general lines that we suggest.

4. The quality of Woden’s landscape maintenance: Our contentions

While there has been some noticeable improvements in Civic Centre in recent years (eg City Walk, Hobart Place, Civic Square, and Glebe Park) in response to representations from commercial interests in that area, the maintenance effort dedicated to much of the public parks and places infrastructure in the remainder of Canberra, including the Woden Valley, is decidedly inadequate.

It is a matter of some concern to us that we feel the need to formally document with you, as the Minster, specific instances where municipal maintenance services in the parks and public places area are not ‘up to scratch’ nor responsive to publicly raised concerns of the kind set out in the Attachment. The attachment list only examples and it is regrettable that they are representative of a far more pervasive problem.

We bring these concerns to your attention in the hope of achieving a greater recognition within the Government that Canberrans, including Woden residents, do have a sense of civic pride. They expect and are entitled to expect their public assets to be maintained in presentable manner and on a timely, cyclical basis to a standard at least comparable with other municipalities with a similar socio-economic profile as Canberra’s.

It is our impression that possibly Canberra’s long held reputation for excellence in landscape planning and maintenance dating back to the years of the NCDC and before has in recent years led to a culture of complacency. There seems to have been a perception since self-government that “we can afford to let things go a bit”. In fact, things have been “let go” too much – there is a long overdue need for great deal of catch-up maintenance and renewal. This extends not just to the prominent parks and places but also more routine sites such as roadside verges and centre strips along major traffic routes (eg Yarra Glen, Hindmarsh Drive and Melrose Drive)

Regrettably, since the advent of self-government and the greater devolution of asset management to a proliferation of managers and agencies, adequate routine maintenance effort has not been applied. Over the four years that WVCC has been in existence, the poor quality of maintenance of Woden’s (and Canberra’s) public parks and places has been a recurring theme in community feedback to us. Indeed there is a concern that Woden has become the ‘poor relation’ in terms of the resourcing of CUPP’s maintenance effort even though, unlike the other districts of Canberra, the Woden Valley does not present CUPP with the maintenance cost and effort associated with a major lake feature (as in Canberra Central, Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin).

While the focus of this letter and the Attachment is on areas which fall within the responsibility of CUPP, we stress that there is also widespread evidence of neglect and a run down in the quality of presentation of open spaces which currently fall within the responsibilities of other agencies besides CUPP such as school grounds, colleges and emergency services (eg Phillip Ambulance Station, Curtin Emergency Services Centre).

Most of these agencies show very little interest in maintaining (let alone improving) the open spaces around their buildings. Consideration should be given to returning responsibility for such maintenance to a central agency of the ACT Administration whose primary responsibility is one of restoring and then maintaining a high standard of presentation of such precincts.

Returning to CUPP, we urge the Government to review it performance in this area with an objective eye and to reconsider its commitment to basic municipal maintenance service delivery. We look forward to seeing some action in achieving basic levels of service delivery which, in any other well run municipality, are taken for granted. We sincerely trust that we will not need to make recurring representations of this kind.

We also emphasise that these concerns are longer term and predate the drought. They should not be interpreted as a response to the deterioration in the appearance our urban public places brought on by the flow-on effects of the drought. Rather it is felt that there is a general administrative malaise in the delivery of many aspects of CUPP’s services in the Woden area resulting in a poor standards of maintenance and presentation. We are unclear to what extent budgetary circumstances are exacerbating the problem.

We also call on you as Minister to ensure that there are effective and adequate resources applied to the task of restoring the Woden Valley’s public parks and places to a standard which the Canberra community can once again be proud of.

Yours sincerely

David Menzel


Location Issue

Necessary action and Comment

Hindmarsh drive verge

Tree and shrub plantings between Melrose Drive and Tuggeranong Parkway have thinned greatly over recent years due to die back revealing many untidy private fences, masonry etc; not a pleasant vista along one of Woden’ primary corridors

Remove and replace dead and dying vegetation

Ensure adequate, regular, professional and timely follow-up maintenance – including watering during the establishment phase we note some new plantings have been established in recent weeks.

Yarra Glen – southbound carriageway: Cooter Road turnoff to Yamba interchange – Verge plantings

A high proportion of the deciduous trees along the verge are many years over due for basic pruning; many have been suckering from the base and / or are poorly shaped.

Shrubs on the Cotter Road turnoff ramp are dead or dying and need replacement and long grass on the ramp requires regular mowing.

Deciduous trees need regular pruning including removal of suckering and proper shaping. Shrubs on the Cotter Road turnoff ramp need replacement and long grass on the ramp requires regular mowing.

There has been marked rise in the visibility of graffiti around the Woden Valley over the past year

The evidence suggests that official responsiveness of graffiti removal has declined; It needs to be removed more speedily as a deterrent to the spread of further graffiti

Curtin Ridge

Uncontrolled private motor vehicle access to ridge (including by builders) since the 2003 bushfires has degraded the area as well as making it less pleasant and less safe for walkers and neighbourhood residents; large areas of grasses and remnant vegetation have been flattened and a number of unofficial motor vehicle tracks have developed, reducing the visual appeal of the ridge

Curtin Ridge: leftover building debris has been allowed to be dumped on public land; replacement fences adjoining the Nature Park have often been constructed of materials inconsistent with National Capital Plan / Territory Plan requirements (masonry / colorbond) and contribute to the visual degrading of the area

Restore strict controls on motor vehicle access to the ridge

Rip and seed bare areas

Remove rubbish piles; seek out offenders and prosecute if possible

Establish shrub plantings to screen unsympathetic masonry and steel fences erected on

Canberra Nature Park boundaries

New tree plantings to offset large number of mature natives removed in aftermath of 2003 bushfires

Curtin Shops: Tree plantings

Trees adjoining the ‘Coles carpark’ have been unsuccessfully replaced multiple times over the past decade at considerable public expense; regrettably the lack of follow up watering and the fact that they were planted at the wrong time of the year has meant that each time they have died within months of planting

A commitment to regular watering and maintenance is required

Curtin Shops

John Curtin Memorial

Has carried painted graffiti on stonework for several months

Graffiti should be removed and the state of this significant local and national memorial monitored on a regular basis in future

Curtin Shops


Fabric decorative banners in Curtin Square are faded and torn – long overdue for replacement

Replace and establish a regular monitoring and maintenance program for such items in future

Hughes Shops / Community Centre:

Tree plantings

Painted surfaces (eg lamp posts)

Some of the tree plantings established during the refurbishment of the Shops precinct have died an have not been replaced

Paint on lamp stands is faded and flaking off

Trees adjoining the Community Centre have died, then remove but not replaced

Replace and establish a regular monitoring and maintenance program for such items in future

Lyons Shops: Tree plantings

Long established plantings of silver birch died following long period of neglect over course of current drought

Birch plantings near the Joe Lyons Memorial recently removed; need to be replaced now with suitable drought hardy trees appropriately fitted with tree guards; ensure appropriate periodic watering during establishment

Yarra Glen verge plantings: Cotter Road turnoff to Yamba Roundabout (southbound)

Trees are highly stressed with dead and broken limbs, many years overdue for pruning and renewal

Remove and replace aged trees; prune remaining trees; follow up with a regular monitoring and maintenance program in future including adequate watering

North Walk, Woden Town Centre – Tree replacement / planter boxes

A number of trees in this formal avenue have been removed but not replaced, detracting from the appeal and ambience of this heavily trafficked pedestrian area

For many years, vegetation in planter boxes was either dead or severely stressed from lack of watering and maintenance; planter boxes recently removed

Remove and replace aged trees; prune remaining trees; follow up with a regular monitoring and maintenance program in future

Reestablish planter boxes and maintain attractive vegetation in them (as per the planter boxes in Civic Square adjoining the ACT Assembly building)

Lovett Tower precinct (Woden Town Centre): Tree maintenance

Most if not all of the 30 or so advanced deciduous trees which were planted in the car parking area adjoining Lovett Tower some years ago are dead apparently due to lack of watering during establishment; garden beds are weed infested; some of the dead trees have been removed but not replaced

Remove and replace dead or dying trees; prune remaining trees; follow up with a regular monitoring and maintenance program in future, including watering; remove weeds


Neighbourhood ovals have, generally, been let go over the past five years or so. There has been some maintenance but it has been minimal – mainly grass cutting. Most ovals cannot now be used for recreational purposes. Some seem to be no more than unattractive vacant land in the middle of our suburbs.

Accepting that resources may not allow a return to the neighbourhood oval of old there is a case for a new look at the future of neighbourhood ovals. Are they too big? Would it be preferable to have a core area well maintained for recreational use with the remainder planted with trees or even with parts of our ovals developed? An overall strategy for neighbourhood ovals needs to be developed so that their future can be secured.
Melrose Drive Central plantings south of Hindmarsh Drive

Need replacement and follow up maintenance

Yamba Drive Between Yamba roundabout and Hindmarsh Drive

Needs regular tree pruning and replacement of dead and dying vegetation

Chifley BBQ area on Mount Taylor

Requires rejuvenation and a regular monitoring and maintenance program implemented