It was a seemingly innocuous question during public question time at yesterday’s Launceston City Council meeting.
“Were the ratepayers given a chance to have input into this?”
The question was in relation to the council applying for a $9 million loan for a 300-spot car park as part of the redevelopment of the CH Smith building.
(For the record, the council has agreed to apply for an interest-free $9 million from the state government’s $60 million loan fund to help get the CH Smith project off the ground).
That single question highlights part of the problem surrounding this monstrosity, which has sat in ruin for far too long. One developer after the next failed to realise any project – leaving the dilapidated shell of this once historic building falling down around us.
We elect alderman at local government elections – in fact all our public officials – to make decisions to run our city, our state, our country and make decisions for us. It’s the foundation of a democracy.
The CH Smith proposal is one of those pivotal decisions. So to the dissenters, how about we let our elected officials make the decisions we pay them to do. We don’t need or want a system whereby those officials need to keep running back to the public gallery every time a major decision needs to be made.
There are planning rules in place, and other mechanisms and appeals processes in place to protect the public.
Thankfully, our city’s aldermen showed their support for Errol Stewart and Scott Curran’s vision for CH Smith and they should be applauded.
It would have been easy to dissent – to side with opponents of the plan or simply not see what could be achieved on the site of what is an incredible eyesore.
There are more than 65,000 ratepayers in Launceston. Three or four vocal opponents to a proposal shouldn’t be enough to derail the council from making a much-needed decision. Thankfully, again, that hasn’t happened and the city is the big winner from that.
Instead of rotting timberwork, crumbling bricks and rusted scraps of tin where a roof once stood, Errol Stewart and Scott Curran’s plan grand plan will include a cafe and a multitude of much-needed office space.
The entire city of Launceston has been crying out for a solution – and finally we may have it.