A FREMANTLE future fund from parking fees—and perhaps a tax on major developments—should help finance light rail for the port city says Rachel Pemberton.
The city warder is recontesting her seat at the October elections and says once the fund is up and running and banking the cash, the council would simply need the election of a “visionary” state government to get light rail off the ground.
“This fund could be a tiny fraction of the parking revenue raised over the next 20 years, similar to that used in the City of Perth to fund the CAT buses,” Cr Pemberton says.
“It could be boosted by a development levy, so that each time major development occurs in the area, a small contribution is made towards the fund.”
Cr Pemberton first flagged the idea when the council’s special projects committee launched a scheme amendment for the Hilton local centre, to set it up for higher density and a light rail stop. The envisioned route would link Fremantle and Murdoch along South Street.
White Gum Valley/Beaconsfield near Starland Video and the corner of Hampton Road and South Street are also flagged as high-density hubs with rail stops.
The proposal won a warm response from colleagues and was sent back to staff for number crunching.
Cr Pemberton says development nodes would provide local shopping, employment, entertainment and residential opportunities.
“They are also essential if we are to curb the suburban sprawl annihilating Perth’s Swan Coastal Plain,” she told the Herald.
Cr Pemberton says she’s going into this election greatly refreshed after a gruelling start to her term. A long-time staffer with Greens senator Scott Ludlam, she burned the midnight oil on two senate campaigns within months of each other following the AEC ballots fiasco.
“I work at 150 per cent in campaigns, but in 2014 there was not an end date and it was really hard,” she told the Herald.
She ended up taking a year off from Senator Ludlam’s office to concentrate on her council work, and is now back there part-time. She says it provides her the perfect balance to ensure both jobs are done properly.
Cr Pemberton is particularly proud of traffic-calming on Wray Avenue, saying it’s helping the popular local hub grow safely.
“I’m really excited because we’ve got more signage coming and, after negotiating we are allowed to do some artistic signage, that will be playful and fun, and get people to look out for pedestrians.”
She’s also keen to get stuck into the reworked Green Plan, and says there’ll be three new parks coming soon in Hilton, White Gum Valley and O’Connor. She says one of the surprising findings from the plan was that city ward has Fremantle’s greatest tree canopy.
Saving water is one of her passions, and she’s already got the owners of the proposed hotel at Leighton Beach interested in using its greywater to reticulate council-owned green space and is going to work on the looming apartment blocks next.
Cr Pemberton says renewal of the city centre is now taking shape, but a key challenge will be supporting existing businesses while it’s in transition.
She’s been working with High Street Mall landlords on a revamp, but says they’ve gone further to create a “whole place strategy”.
Pinching a management technique from the Rundle Street Mall in Adelaide, she says owners have agreed to a leasing strategy so shops that move in complement the over-all plan.
“For example, there should be a quality hospitality venue on the corner opposite the Town Hall—that’s where the souvenir shop is—that has alfresco that stretches towards the square. That’s the aspiration.”
Other targets if she wins another term include:
• working to rid Hampton Road of trucks;
• banning motor boats from South Beach;
• making Fremantle walkable and safe; and,
• improving the council’s general service delivery.
by STEVE GRANT