NORTH WARD in Freo is facing unprecedented pressures over the next decade, from the repurposing of its container port to housing, developers lining up to take advantage of the sweeping views across the Indian Ocean up Stirling Highway, to the new traffic bridge that Main Roads wants to build across the Swan River. Two people reckon they’re up for the challenge and are standing for council; Ingrid van Dorssen and Mark Woodcock.
THE demolition of one of Riverside Drive’s grand heritage homes almost 20 years ago was the spark for Ingrid van Dorssen wanting to get involved in decision-making.
“That horrified me, and it started the chain of wanting to understand the decision-making process and being involved in it so that I can advocate for better outcomes,” Ms van Dorssen said.
The North Fremantle resident was prompted to enrol at Curtin University studying urban and regional planning, and as fate would have it a perfect project to sink her teeth into landed almost literally at her doorstep.
“I got very involved in community advocacy in North Fremantle with the Matilda Bay Brewery structure plan,” Ms van Dorssen said.
“We did workshops with the community, a visioning process and worked with the developers on a structure plan.
“It was actually a really positive community engagement process and I ended up doing an honours degree at university on community engagement using that experience.”
As part of the negotiation with the developers and the council, the community accepted a little more height than they’d originally wanted, but Ms van Dorssen said she was astounded by how they were rewarded.
“When it came to the development application stage, the developers completely ignored the structure plan.
“As a planner it’s so disappointing the mentality of developers at the moment; the complete disregard for planning frameworks that have been developed with the community.”
She was also part of the community pushback against Main Roads’ first plan for a replacement traffic bridge and says there’s a lot of work yet to go.
“When Main Roads put out their initial proposal for one option, it was an example of an announce and defend model of consultation, which is the lowest level of community engagement you can achieve and not acceptable.
“So we stood up and said we would like to have better consultation and we got an outcome.”
It took a meeting with transport minister Rita Saffioti, but she says Main Roads did come to the table with stakeholders and came up with three options.
She’s still mystified where the plan to dive Canning Highway under the bridge and along the river foreshore came from.
“We are expecting another announcement soon from the state government on that particular project, so hopefully we can continue to work collaboratively to get a better outcome.
“That’s a big part of what I want to do on council.
“Working positively and collaboratively with stakeholders, you’ll get the best outcome – reach a consensus – and I’d like to build those relationships with state governments.”
She’d also like to see a regional transport plan, which the North Fremantle Community Association has been pushing for years.
“All the projects and development applications that come up, they’re all seen in silos and assessed in silos.”
On a more city-wide level she’d like to see precinct groups given more support, and something that’s likely to bring a smile to Freo’s older folk – better public toilets.
“There are places around the world that have beautiful facilities and they’re staffed.”
She’d also like to push for 40kmh speed limits in all residential areas, saying the city’s narrow streets make that achievable.
stories by STEVE GRANT