It's time to turn on and transform Civic

After years of talk, we now have action.

On Monday the Property Council of Australia, Canberra CBD Limited and the Canberra Business Chamber launch the  "Canberra City Collective Agenda 2016".

This action agenda follows a discussion paper and public forum over the last year that kick-started a loud conversation about Civic's failings – and its future potential.

When acclaimed urban designer Jan Gehl visited Canberra last year, he observed that we were "trying to have a party in too many rooms". And he's right. While we have a wonderful city full of potential, we are spreading our efforts too thinly.

This action agenda aims to bring us all back to the same page.

We've consulted with planners and policy makers, creators and curators, artists and architects, economists and environmentalists – and we now have a collective roadmap to help us restart Civic's heart.

Within the agenda are targeted actions – from installing a new "big screen" in Garema Place and enlivening laneways, to relocating the carousel to Glebe Park and introducing population density targets.

New remissions to the controversial Lease Variation Charge are also on the agenda to encourage residential development and adaptive reuse of vacant office buildings.

An important driver of change will be a new "Canberra City Coalition" – dedicated citizens made up of local community groups, ACT government representatives and the Australian National University, as well as city traders, land and building owners with a commitment to transform Civic.

The Coalition will be led by a City Curator – someone with significant experience in civic animation and expertise in advocacy that can oversee an ambitious program of events and activities.

These champions must be willing to take risks. To fail – and to try again.

Speaking to a packed room at the public forum that informed this action agenda, Chairman of the Canberra of the Canberra Business Chamber Glenn Keyes reminded us that the "acres of concrete in Garema Place" was evidence that "we're not afraid of failure and we should give it another go until we get it right".

So, Canberra, it's time for us all to turn on and transform Civic.

First published in the Sunday Canberra Times, 30 Nov 2015
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/its-time-to-turn-on-and-transform-civic-20151127-gl9r8i.html