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Editions

Roger’s ready to pass the baton

01 Feb 2017

Roger’s ready to pass the baton Image

By Sunny Liu

After seven long years as the president of the Docklands Community Association (DCA), Roger Gardner is ready to hand over to the next suitable candidate.

Mr Gardner says it has been a rewarding experience and wishes to thank the Docklands community, the DCA and his family for their support.

“It’s been quite rewarding in the sense of being able to speak up about what the Docklands residents think,” he said. “We were able to highlight the problems, opportunities and issues that the community might face.”

However, Mr Gardner says he will not be completely detached from the DCA, as the next president has not been determined.

“I can’t step away too quickly because it needs to be a smooth transition,” he said.

Mr Gardner thinks his continuous opposition against high-rise apartments and short-stay accommodation in Docklands is one of his greatest achievements as the DCA president, though he admits he has brought “too little change”.

“I think many of the high-rise developments have poor design, poor material and poor supervision. Serviced apartments lack control and often create confrontation between residents and guests,” he said.

In 2015, he was selected by the Victorian government to be on an expert panel to investigate whether short-stay guests were causing nuisance to long-term residents.

At the time he wished the inquiry would result in a ban on serviced apartments in residential buildings but not much has changed since then.

“We are up against too many people. It’s very difficult to win because developers rule,” he said.

“I see my achievements in the work I’ve done, not the results. People know somebody is standing up for them,” Mr Gardner said.

Mr Gardner said another difficulty he experienced as the DCA president was working for a transient population in a fast-developing suburb.

“Community members in the outer suburbs don’t change very much because they’ve got an invested interest in the area they live in, whereas people here tend to come and go,” Mr Gardner said. “So it’s much harder (to represent the community) in a developing area with high-rises.”

Having lived in Docklands for 13 years, Mr Gardner says he has witnessed both exciting and unpleasant changes to this fast-evolving suburb.

“There used to be many more recreational spaces in the area but now it’s all taken by high-rises. We used to have a lot more sunlight,” he said.

Mr Gardner said he wanted to see improvements made on high-rise buildings, though he lives on the 17th floor of an apartment tower.

Despite all the obstacles he has faced during his time at the DCA, Mr Gardner says he is particularly proud that he has helped create the DCA’s website and Facebook page and has conducted some large-scale community surveys to collect residents’ opinion on local issues.

“We wanted to know what residents think through the surveys. In one of the online surveys we did last year, we had more than 100 objections against cage-fighting at Etihad Stadium … so now they are holding it somewhere else,” he said.

Mr Gardner says he has been an “attacking person” and “a critic of certain things”.

“One of my responsibilities is to inform the residents of what’s going on and I tend to be the focal point of receiving news,” he said.

Mr Gardner says he hopes the new DCA president can “continue with keeping up the good fight”.

John Kakos is currently the DCA’s acting president and the new president will be announced soon.

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