A year of ups and downs for Freo

TWENTY TWENTY TWO is coming to an end, so what has the year been like for Freo? 

Have the new Fremantle mayor and CEO made significant inroads the community can see? 

Although the council budget allows for an increase from one to three maintenance crews there are still far too many unacceptable signs of neglect visible, but at least our city’s finances are back on track. 

Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge has been very visible at very many openings and public announcements and connects well with the community at grassroots level.

Cruise ships and overseas and interstate visitors are back. Freo has been more more vibrant the last six months and retail and hospitality are starting to reap the benefits after the long Covid restrictions.

The plans for a new Fremantle Traffic Bridge have been controversial and it has not been good that Main Roads is stubborn and far to inflexible. 

The community is not confident that we will be getting a great new bridge, after the ugly visual disaster the new High Street freight roundabout is. 

Why all those awful concrete amenity walls? Are they called that because they look shithouse?

The McGowan government abandoned the idea of putting massive and inappropriate movie studios on historic Victoria Quay, so hallelujah to that! 

When the new police complex will be built is anyone’s guess and Spare Parts Puppet Theatre is unlikely to get a new theatre building at Pioneer Park – that desperately needs a new reticulation bore, that is still six months away.

Three hotels have been approved for inner city Fremantle, however none of them will be built for another two years, but Coles might be coming back earlier at the former Woolstores shopping centre. 

The dictatorial power of JDAP, that overrules local government planning decisions too often is a serious concern.

IGA opened at Newman Court and Wear2 became the first retailer in the new Walyalup Civic Centre.

The WA Maritime Museum had its 20th birthday and Gage Roads its first on Victoria Quay, where C Shed is undergoing massive heritage preservation work.

The Fremantle Leisure Centre finally has a new roof and the Arts Centre and Fremantle Markets will be getting new roofs next year.

New restaurants, bars and retail shops have opened in Fremantle and there are more in the pipeline.

Paddy Troy Lane is getting a facelift with new trees, public art and seating and the Piazza will also receive some TLC in 2023.

Fremantle people and visitors can finally take the train to the airport, but will need to change trains at Claremont. The one-hour trip costs only $5 so that is a lot cheaper than taxi or Uber.

The erosion of our beaches continues to be a serious problem. Pumping sand onto Port Beach is only a stop-gap measure for an issue that needs long-term solutions.

Joe’s Fish Shack in the Fishing Boat Harbour closed to make way for an all new Little Creatures, but the brewery has delayed the development by at least a year.

It will be a big challenge to reduce Fremantle council from 13 to nine elected members. I believe the best outcome would be four wards with two councillors each, plus the mayor.

It has been a stop-start year for Fremantle. 

There is reason for optimism now that the state borders are open and we are recovering from the pandemic, but there are also reasons to be frustrated about the delays of major construction projects, and the lack of proper maintenance of our streets. 

It has been an up and down year for Freo, with shops closing and others opening, but still too many vacant shops for my liking. 

I am optimistic about the future of our gorgeous city, but like most of us, I am running out of patience. 

Let’s get on with it. 

Let’s stop the talk fests and the promises and let’s get more commitment from the state government!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Loopy! Roel’s Round will continue as a monthly column next year.

Roel Loopers

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