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AGENTS OF CHANGE
Some of Canberra's top movers and shakers share the biggest changes they've seen in the city.
Chair of the Canberra
CBD Limited board
As a teenager growing up
in Canberra in the late
1950s and early '60s my
recollection of Canberra is of
a large country town where
most business, social and
recreational activity occurred in Civic, Kingston or
Manuka, before the concept of malls in Canberra.
A seismic shift occurred with the completion of the
Monaro Mall in 1963, as Canberrans embraced the
concept of an enclosed mall enthusiastically. It also
marked the period when Canberra transitioned
into Australia's largest inland city and at its centre
was Civic, a bustling, vibrant and exciting place
that attracted us all into the CBD.
The next 50 years saw the city's population grow to
370,000. One of the consequences of the suburban
spread of Canberra was the development of
large shopping malls in the town centers, which
detracted from the city centre and led to a period
of decline from the late '70s until the late '90s.
However the city has since recaptured the mantle
of the preeminent precinct of Canberra's retail,
commercial and recreational activity and is again
the preferred destination of all Canberrans. I am
proud of the contribution that Canberra CBD
Limited has made to revitalising the city centre.
Chief executive of the Canberra Business Council
The best way to describe the incredible changes I have seen in Canberra
since I arrived here in 1970 is to compare it to a beautiful butterfly
emerging from its chrysalis stage into adulthood.
In 1970 Canberra was still just a big country town -- there were no outdoor
cafes and the city closed down at about 10pm. All of the fundamentals for
a vibrant, well-planned city were there but confined in a cocoon.
Fast forward 43 years and Canberra has come a long way. It has a vibrant
cultural and creative life, international sporting events, great restaurants
and wonderful national institutions. It is growing and maturing as a
tourist destination and is home to an impressive array of world-class learning and research
institutions and an incredibly innovative private sector.
For the future I see a world-class city with a lifestyle second to none -- a city connected internally
by an efficient light rail system, and connected to the region and beyond by high speed rail and
direct international flights; a city that attracts business and leisure tourists to come and stay
because of its festivals and events, politics and big conversations, and internationally-recognised
institutions; a city whose residents are the most educated in Australia and whose businesses lead
the country in innovation. And what a beautiful butterfly that will be!
OAM, managing director of King O'Malley's and
director on the Canberra CBD Limited board
Many exciting changes have taken place in the heart of Canberra City
over the past several years. Beautiful public art has been installed along
City Walk and Garema Place. New businesses have opened and others
have been transformed, and the city now has a huge range of dining and
I look forward to seeing budding entrepreneurs take advantage of any
vacant shop fronts in Garema Place and City Walk and filling them with
new and interesting businesses like those popping up in Lonsdale Street
and New Acton. There is also room for night markets and a farmers market in Garema Place to
complement existing shops both inside and outside the Canberra Centre.
Inner city living has brought life to the CBD after hours and this trend is continuing with other
developments due for completion later this year.
My involvement in the changes in the city has primarily been through the King O'Malley's Irish
Pub, which has just been awarded the Australian Hotel's Association's 2013 Canberra Centenary
Award. I have really enjoyed working with my team to host events like Canberra's official
Movember Gala Party and the Leukaemia Foundation's World's Greatest Shave for a Cure.
President of the Canberra
City Residents Association
Chief executive and artistic director of The Street Theatre
Canberra's City West is my stomping ground and ever-shifting,
metamorphosing home. When I arrived in Canberra, Childers Street was
a desert in the inner city. Yes our city's creative artists created theatre
inside spaces like The Street and the Drill Hall Gallery, but there was no
drama anywhere else.
It was dispiriting to look out onto the wide empty street with its gloomy
air wondering where all the people were. It was in no way an expression
of our city's soul and I do believe Canberra has a soul to be reckoned with.
A lot has changed in the past six years, because it's now a place full of
people living, working, studying, socialising and creating every day and there is life, connection,
messiness, beauty, ugliness, richness and diversity. There is an energy that lifts me every time I
step out into it.
Canberra City is
What began as an open
plain with a few scattered
buildings is now densely
built-up. Once relegated
primarily as a place for business, it has become
a place to live.
A blurring of an artificial boundary between
the commercial centre and residential space
is underway. Over a period of ten years the
residential population in the city and interfaced
suburbs has doubled.
More important, however, is the direction cast for
our city's future. Canberra was not intended as a
cold, utilitarian place. It was to be a cosmopolitan
city, a city of vibrancy and life. As people have
moved into the Canberra City this enrichment
has occurred. It is blooming into the fulfilment
of its design.
But ahead, we face a clear challenge. Growth
in buildings and facilities must move in lock step
with residential growth. It is their presence and
activity that will bring the character of excitement
and interest that we desire.
I for one am excited about our city's future.
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