City Vision – Spreadsheets vs Images of lifestyle

Currently those who supposedly help us, the community, create our visions of the future, work in State and Local Gov’t planning Depts, Engineers, and if we are lucky innovative world leading Architects. But is that really the group who are driving the vision? My experience is not like that, rather the vision comes solely from accountants’ spreadsheets. The bean counters all talk the same language and they work for Developers, State and Local Gov’t. It is easy for them to converge on a simple and mutually agreeable number based solution for any problem. We need ‘x’ extra car parking bays, ‘y’ m2 of office space, ‘z’ extra permanent residents, ‘n’ m2 retail, etc. Is that ever likely to innovate, to create thinking outside the square; can they ever support ideas like building two new cities permanently distant and distinct from Perth, banning motor traffic during humane hours from the CBD, zoning land for sport and recreation instead of commerce, etc.


We, the community, are the primary stakeholders within any locality, within any city, we own most of the assets. We deserve be the treated as the most important stakeholder, instead of trouble makers. Let’s play the accountant’s game: 20,000 homes per Shire, value say $450k gives $9 billion in housing equity alone, then add in annual spending power, transport, etc. Compare that to any developer you like, and who deserves power and influence? Who deserves to be taken to lunch, into Council and their staff confidence? Why do we put up with our elected representatives treating developers instead of us this way?


Vision is about mental images. Visionary leaders can stimulate such ideas with actual pictures, models and the most articulate with word pictures. They never do it with accountants’ spreadsheets; the latter may be a trigger or be a source of data that initiates the creative process. I have never seen a vision I could imagine based on numbers alone, have you?


If any of us were asked to provide a vision, of our ideal for Freo, the chances are it would include, pedestrian friendly café’s and umbrellas, green open space with children and dogs running, beaches in summer, etc. But is that a useful starting place? If on the other hand I was to ask you to provide a detailed plan of your life, ie, what you do every day, every weekend, where you work, how you travel, where you have your meals, what and where you recreate; I suspect only a minority would say, I use the café every day for every meal, I use the green space with my kids and dog everyday and every summer we go to the beach every weekend. Many would actually say, something totally at odds with that. Yes, they want those amenities to exist for the occasions when they need them, yes they like the ambience, culture and aesthetics that would bring their neighbourhood, but actually something else dominates my time, eg, young family, my sport or hobby, and most of that doesn’t involve the Freo entertainment precinct. That raises a very different thought and question; what then does the Freo entertainment precinct mean to the bulk of ratepayers, who don’t use it themselves frequently? If it isn’t for the ratepayers direct benefit, nevertheless, the ratepayers have to provide and fund the infrastructure its support and maintenance, and hence are there worthwhile benefits to the bulk of ratepayers? Based on the latter, what vision do you have first of your own locale for your actual normal lifestyle, and secondary, for the Freo Entertainment Precinct?


It is hard to do that for Freo, our City. But then scale up to thinking about the Perth Metro, and beyond to Western Australia with a population of 6 million within the life time of our children, and it becomes more complex, but requires much the same thinking. Who is going to do it, if we don’t? Accountant for Developers, State and Local Gov’t! Who brings colour and music to our locales, shouldn’t they guide us in our visioning as much as engineers?


I think there is a very large disconnect between the needs of Freo ratepayers to fulfill their lifestyle needs and what the City actually focuses upon. Every other shire, metro or country, knows if they have amateur sporting teams, and the myriad of other clubs and organisations. But do you know where the Freo cricket, soccer and rugby clubs are based and play their games? Have you or your kids supported or played for them? Why are the suburbs that make up most of the Fremantle ratepayers, not the real driving force behind Freo future strategy and planning, why the one eyed focus on the entertainment precinct?


We have same problem when thinking of WA, planners and politicians can’t think beyond Perth!


Accountants spreadsheets seem to be more powerful! Sad as it is! Worse, we are in our apathy are saying that is ok!

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