The future is now

THERE was a whole week of community consultation by the Future of Fremantle Planning Committee in the Maritime Museum which I attended for the first two days. 

The participants and experts had many suggestions and many good and practical ideas. 

We were told it would be an aspirational exercise that was about innovation. 

“It is about leading. We are not interested in following,” MC and Fremantle Chamber of Commerce CEO Chrissie Morrissy told the group, which included students from primary and high schools.

There are enormous challenges to develop the port precinct, especially north of the harbour, but they also represent enormous opportunities. 

Affordable housing, access to the waterfront, parks and gardens, resilience to rising sea levels, and the call for radical ideas and different mindsets were all mentioned.

• Photos by Roel Loopers

Sustainable development, intergenerational spaces, creating employment opportunities, people living where they work, above or behind the shops they run, extending the North Fremantle foreshore park under the bridges all along North Quay, more community and edible gardens, public housing, young and old wanting to feel safe after dark, places of leisure and entertainment that are not built around alcohol, a walkable city, liveable medium density development, equity, waterslides, using the port cranes for leisure activities, and many more ideas were put up on the large screen.

We need to be the future drivers of change. 

It is critical that WA diversifies its economy and we have to get the orderly transition to renewables right.

How might rising sea water levels impact Rous Head? 

Should we develop at all there, and at what cost?

Do we need expensive and unsightly seawalls to protect residential properties from flooding – how would some 50,000 people leave the area when there are only Port Beach Road and Tydeman Road out?

A transport planner said it was the biggest cul-de-sac in the world and a huge challenge to move so many people around.

Minimise parking! There should be no car priority, simply because the site can not cope with it, due to its egress restrictions

Josh Byrne made excellent points that we would be building in the ocean with no groundwater or aquifer, so how do we retain rainwater during the wet months, so that we can water parks and gardens during the warm months? 

He also believes we need renewable energy on site, such as wind power.

Arts administrator Pete Stone talked about the eccentricity of Freo, a place that attracts ‘the other’.

Fremantle has a uniqueness compared to many capital cities, but we should not get caught up in the strategic loud voices and overplan the port precinct. 

We need to invite everyone to the party, he said, because interesting people create a unique existence

It feels a bit to me as if we would be fast forwarding what should be the organic growth of Fremantle with this huge development north of the river.

We need to be careful not to create a satellite city where all the investments goes, draining all the energy out of old Fremantle. 

That could unintentionally do more harm than good for our city.

The port precinct project could be a huge game changer for our city, that would triple the number of residents, but Fremantle can’t just sit back and wait for that to happen. 

The experts were talking about the year 2070, so that is a very long way away. 

Let’s start implementing some of the ideas now and encourage innovative new businesses to start up in out port city! 

With so many brilliant ideas for how Fremantle could grow, I wonder why we should wait with all that until/if the working port moves to Kwinana. 

The future of Freo is now, not in 20-40 years from now. 

And talking about the future; I was so impressed with the confidence and assertiveness of the school students. 

On day one Amelia from John Curtin gave a passionate speech, without referring to any notes, and on day two we had Oisin from the Studio School at our table, who had no problems telling the much older people what it was his generation want from Fremantle. 

Great kids. What a bright future they are for Freo!

Roel Loopers/Freoview

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