Have your say about Carlton’s future

Carol Saffer

COVID lockdowns were not much fun. But, on the positive side, many people walked their suburban streets searching for fresh air, exercise, and a break from binge-watching and discovered and appreciated more about where they live.

There was a new-found enthusiasm for making neighbourhood connections, getting to know your community and keeping an eye out for those who needed a bit of extra help.

The City of Melbourne recently launched Participate Carlton to hear experiences, good or bad, to develop a Neighbourhood Plan to make Carlton the best it can be.

“The voices of our communities have always been integral to the way that we work, as we deliver services and plan for the future of our wonderful city,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.

“We’re looking forward to hearing about what matters most to residents, workers, students and visitors as we support the neighbourhood’s vibrant future.”

During March and continuing this month until Saturday, April 30, the council is conducting face-to-face pop-up meetings with their Neighbourhood Partners staff at local venues and events. Online responses to the council website are also encouraged, with an incentive to enter a prize draw if two or more of the engagement activities are completed.

“In an effort to become even more inclusive and responsive, we’re connecting with our communities on a neighbourhood level – we’re eager to better understand their needs and ideas,” Cr Capp said.

Carlton Residents’ Association (CRA) president, Antoinette Sagria said the organisation saw the City of Melbourne’s Participate Carlton program as a wonderful opportunity for Carltonians to advocate for their suburb and engage with the council.

“There are a number of issues concerning us at CRA, and while we do what we can to advocate on behalf of residents, it’s important that the council sees the enthusiasm of the local community to revitalise and protect Carlton,” she said.

A City of Melbourne spokesperson said the council was developing 11 neighbourhood plans to recognise their unique strengths, build on current good practice in each area, and inform the council’s strategic planning.

The first phase of engagement for Participate Carlton is inviting people to have their say on the council’s services and facilities as well as issues, including safety and neighbourhood connection

Carlton resident Mary-Lou* said she had not received notification from the council about the Participate Carlton initiative. When made aware of the ability to respond to the program online, she saw it as an opportunity for her comments to be validated.

“Despite the fact that the City of Melbourne is really aiming at promoting the image that the city and the residents are living a very happy, contented, productive, safe life when it is the opposite,” Mary-Lou said.

“The Garden show, the Grand Prix, the Festa are all great events, but they are all superficial as they don’t touch on what it’s like living here and dealing with the problem of lawlessness that has extended [on Lygon St].”

“They don’t want to hear the reality; they just want to promote their agenda.”

Executive officer of Carlton’s business precinct group Carlton Inc. Phillip Mansour, said Participate Carlton was a “great opportunity for businesses in Carlton to shape the precinct for the future.”

“It’s important to understand that business owners take the time to express their views to ensure we have a wide range of collected data to assess the most common shortfalls of the precinct and improve moving forward,” he said.

The aim of the Participate Carlton program is four-fold; firstly, as a tool to assist in building further connection to place by celebrating the suburb’s unique character, history and people.

Secondly, increase social value in the neighbourhood by providing pathways for community development and connection.

Next up, the program is an avenue for the community members to understand the role of the council and their role as active citizens in shaping effect.

Finally, to support economic participation and activation by connecting businesses and the community.

“We’re looking forward to hearing about what matters most to residents, workers, students and visitors, as we support the neighbourhood’s vibrant future,” Cr Capp said.

The feedback and information gathered through Participate Carlton program will influence the development of its Neighbourhood Plan.

Mary-Lou said it [the council] could wave the flag about what it was doing, but questioned how it was actually applying it.

 

We don't need to advertise that Carlton is a lovely place to live; it is self-evident.

 

“What is not self-evident are the issues put on the back burner, ignored and covered up because it’s not the narrative the City of Melbourne wants to project.”

The Carlton Neighbourhood Plan will be available in late 2022 and published via Participate Melbourne. The plans will be iterative and regularly updated. Community members will have the opportunity to continue to offer feedback now and over the coming years. Consultation closes on Saturday, April 30, at 5pm.

*Name changed to protect privacy •

For more information: participate.melbourne.vic.gov.au/participate-carlton

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June 29th, 2022 - Carol Saffer
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