Keeping Canberra livable

With Australia’s population expected to grow to 30.5 million over the next 15 years, it’s perhaps no surprise that congestion could cost the economy $53 billion a year.

In Canberra, delays on Northbourne Avenue alone could cost $1.1 million a year by 2031, according to the Infrastructure Audit conducted earlier this year. Congestion across the capital is tipped to reach $700 million.

Infrastructure Australia’s CEO Philip Davies says we need to “lift our game” if we are to deal with the inevitable population growth in our cities.

Australian cities regularly rank highly in liveability rankings, with the most recent Economist Intelligence Unit Global Liveability Rankings featuring four Australian cities in the top 10 – more than any other country measured.

Curiously, the EIU noted that the most liveable places tend to be “mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density.”

Sounds like Canberra to me.

The secret to liveability is to embrace smart growth – because that’s the best way to build a city that has a high level of amenity, is safe, comfortable and liveable, and is also exciting and dynamic.

Embracing smart growth doesn’t mean losing our suburbs. But it does mean increasing density in places that support it – such as along transport corridors, in our town centres and suburban shops – while also protecting our precious natural environment and the lifestyle that we so love.

In Canberra, we’ve got the basics right – and we have the most liveable city in the OECD as a result.

But we can’t ignore the fact that our city will grow and we need to plan and invest in infrastructure that enhances our city’s character and charm while maintaining the enviable quality of life prized by us all.

First published in CityNews. 24 November 2015