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The Australian Suburban City

The Australian City is a wonderful thing. Many of them are in stunning locations, harbour-or-riverside in temperate climates with a culture to suit. Brad Ruting at Online Opinion has this to say…

Our growing and groaning cities – On Line Opinion – 28/12/2006

Private developers have taken over. They design our cities now. Rows of almost identical, characterless, apartments are going up overnight. You can buy into a community of like minded people. Sign here and you get contemporary urban excellence and nice neighbours. Be safe and feel safe. New high-rise developments aren’t just houses, they’re lifestyles.

They’re the future and we’re embracing them. Buildings are designed with sustainability in mind, with energy and water efficiency and novel ways to recycle your rubbish. Who says you can’t buy environmental values?

These sound great, but soon it will be where millions of Australians live. Yet people are complex creatures, and don’t always do what planners want them to. They don’t give up their car because trains visit the station down the road a few times every hour. They don’t reduce consumption because their apartment has sustainable design features. Master planned communities in expensive new developments are being marketed, but will social interaction really occur? Are communities really based on location, or on social interests? What about those neighbours who aren’t a part of this utopian community?

Interestingly, Brad focuses on the government as requiring action on the issue, particularly in the following three ways:

  • Give more than just lip service to triple bottom line principles.
  • Provide suitable economic incentives to improve livability in cities and regions of development.
  • Be consistent. Developers are just one part of the picture, think of transport, social and environmental results too.

From my immediate situation, I see that Brad may be advocating a decentralized approach to business, work and living. Rural and regional solutions have much to offer in the effort to improve quality of live, and productivity.
Many of the comments in the discussion about this article focus on the fact that we don’t just live in a country, we live in a world, here’s an example…

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Comments – Our growing and groaning cities

A big, round, world with all sorts of issues and problems that extend beyond any imaginary, contrived border.
You don’t care what plight others are in? Fine, your prerogative. But there are people around who do, so get the hell out of their way so some good can be done and some decency can be instilled into an otherwise greedy, selfish, soulless, greedy (worth saying twice) culture. Immigration is not an issue. An entire country starving to death, THAT is an issue. And its all a pendulum – the further you push it away from you, the faster and harder it will swing back.

The forum gets a bit nasty, but there is a good discussion about cities, immigration and Australian policy.

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Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.