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Cinderella is going to the ball

28 Jun 2011

Editorial comment by Shane Scanlan

Docklands is going to the ball and will live happily ever after.  Like Cinderella, her beauty will be appreciated, revered and pursued.

Her natural parent, VicUrban has largely given up this special-needs child into the care of foster parent, the City of Melbourne.

The council did not breed this extraordinary child and harbours some resentment towards her.

It superficially tolerates her special needs, but wants her to grow up quickly and integrate with the rest of the family – North Melbourne, Flemington, Kensington, Carlton, East Melbourne, South Yarra, Southbank and (especially) the CBD.

As a parent, the City of Melbourne feels it is wrong to lavish favours on only one of its children.  And this argument is fine if Docklands was able to mix it up with the other kids in the backyard.

But right now, it needs assistance.

It needs help in three specific areas:

  • Community infrastructure;
  • Marketing to attract tourists; and
  • Wayfinding to guide the visitors to a positive experience.

The community infrastructure issues are well understood.  But the plight of hospitality-based small businesses is less appreciated.

Without dwelling on it, let’s all agree that Docklands businesses which rely on visitors are in trouble.  The businesses which feed the daily-commuting-corporates aside, they are in trouble because the visitors have stopped coming.

And why have they stopped coming?  Largely because of high-level policy decisions which are designed to discourage the use of private cars.  Again, this is fine as a parenting principle but don’t blame a small child for getting sick if you stop feeding her.

The foster-parent City of Melbourne decision-makers need to appreciate and accept that Cinderella Docklands needs help to get to the ball with her step-sisters.

Docklands currently relies on a tourism-based local economy.  With more than 600 businesses in our DocklandsDirectory.com.au database, that’s about one business for every 10 residents.

Extra residents are coming.  Have a look at our story on NewQuay on page 3 for evidence that help is at hand.  And it was reassuring to hear MAB NewQuay project director David Allt-Graham say at our recent networking lunch that MAB was going easy on retail in the new developments.

E-Gate will provide a critical mass, but this future bonanza won’t help the struggle of the here-and-now.

For the medium-term future, Docklands’ economic health is tied to tourism numbers.  If the foster-parent is sympathetic it will redouble its Docklands-specific marketing efforts to help get Cinderella to the ball.

After that, she will be able to play with the other kids.

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Comments

  • confused at 3:40pm on 07/07/11

    so hang on - docklands cinderella is a special needs child? who are her step-sisters? are they ugly?

    anyway, without dwelling on it, let's assume she *will* go to the ball - are you saying then that after the ball is over, she'll play with the other kids?

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