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August 09 Edition Cover

Community has its say on Laservision

26 Feb 2020

Community has its say on Laservision Image

The Docklands Chamber of Commerce (DCC) hosted two community engagement sessions at the Community Hub beside the Library at the Dock on February 19 and 20 on its plan to bring a permanent activation to Victoria Harbour.

Aimed at both engaging residents on its plans, and more importantly, collecting feedback that will ultimately inform its final vision to present to state government and the private sector, the forums heard many interesting ideas from a range of locals.

While the evening session on February 20 attracted larger numbers than the early morning session the day prior, the DCC heard from more than 100 Docklanders during the two-day period.

Led by a planning team from ARUP, groups were formed around tables with maps, highlighters and sticky notes to discuss and brainstorm everything from the current atmosphere of Docklands to ideas around placemaking.

A strong and overwhelming view among most Docklanders is that the area is underutilised and has the potential to offer a lot more. And while permanent activation of the harbour was a vision of the original Docklands Community Forum, some residents did express concerns as to whether a laser and light show, as seen overseas in the likes of Singapore and Dubai, was the way to go.

Based on expert advice, the chamber “conservatively” estimates that the permanent activation would generate more than $300 million for Victoria, much of which would be enjoyed by local businesses.

Particularly in the wake of Central Pier’s closure, there is no shortage of sympathy for local businesses throughout the community and the need to provide permanent activation to drive investment into the area was shared by residents. The notion around “cutting restaurants in half” along the waterfront was widely supported.

However, one of a number of key themes that emerged throughout the engagement period was management and whether the community would be represented in helping determine how the asset was utilised.

For too long, some said they felt Docklands had been used as somewhat of a testing bed for “top-heavy” one-off events, which essentially, weren’t always led by the community. Many see permanent activation as an opportunity for Docklands to create its own identity around what makes it unique, namely its maritime history.

As was to be expected, concerns over potential impacts to amenity were aired, with some residents making the point that no other laser and light activation in the world had the level of residents that Docklands did.

As a local resident herself, DCC president Johanna Maxwell said that the chamber was “extremely conscious” of residential amenity and that the final installation would be carefully curated and controlled accordingly.

Some residents also questioned whether the activation needed to only focus on the waterways, with ideas around wayfinding through the streets and lanes of Victoria Harbour and NewQuay floated to place more emphasis on Docklands. Others also said made the point that infrastructure, namely public toilets, would need to catch up before such an installation made its way here, while a number of safety issues around lighting, security and cycling were also raised.

The DCC said that it was currently collating all information to present back to the community.

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