Pandemic ready a tall order

LOOKING up at the growing number of skyscrapers looming over the Canning Bridge precinct, Rhonda Kerr wonders whether they could be the next Covid lockdown nightmare.

A candidate for Melville’s Applecross-Mt Pleasant ward, Dr Kerr is a health economist who’s been involved in planning at 40 hospitals across a 35-year career and wants to bring her expertise to ensuring Melville’s adequately prepared when the pandemic arrives.

Dr Kerr says WA needs to grapple with the potential lockdown of towers to ensure there’s not the same suffering endured by residents in Melbourne and Sydney.

“For existing buildings there are limited options, but one thing you could do is to talk with owners and developers about how they would manage the risk to ensure their buildings don’t become the repository of illness,” Dr Kerr said.

“Some of these buildings are quite compressed.

“For new buildings, though, you could look at things like access, egress, ventilation, offsetting the doors so they don’t open directly onto each other, air filters in the lift or making sure that all apartments have good-sized balconies.”

Dr Kerr said having access to somewhere with a bit of sunshine is vital for people’s mental health if they’re subjected to extended lockdowns.

She says modelling shows pandemics are coming along with increasing frequency, which will only be fuelled by climate change. She wants to put a “health lens” across the city.

“Health will be the great denominator for the next 50 years.”

She also wants to see a city architect appointed to sell the council’s vision for it suburbs and work with developers to ensure their project reflect that standard.

Dr Kerr says there’s far too many failures, noting one giant block nearby is now being cited as the perfect example of what not to do.

“They’ve had a value from our address, Applecross, but they’ve diminished it in our eyes and those who come here because we can’t get out of our suburbs because of the traffic,” she said.

“We have lost quality in every regard and gained nothing.”

She says as a result the Canning Bridge precinct has become a “highway with a community on either side and it’s lost its sense of purpose and community”.

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