[The following was published as a Letter to the Editor in the Canberra Times, 19th March. It has generated a bit of comment, so I thought I’d post it here too.]
[Update 24 March: I will add relevant Letters to Ed to the Comments here as they appear in the paper.]
Canberrans will be worse off if Canberra grows rapidly, as the growth boosters want. Much of the amenity we enjoy will be lost to crowding, congestion and outdated infrastructure. Much of the amenity we had has already been lost. Civic is already lost, transformed from people-friendly plazas to glass boxes with managed artificial environments.
Those who want a bigger city, including Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, should move to a bigger city.
It’s time those of us who do not want rapid population growth spoke up without shame. It’s time the patronising nonsense of growth boosters was challenged.
High population growth is not inevitable, it is a result of deliberate policies that favour the self-interest of a few.
People who want to retain their quality of life should not be maligned with terms like NIMBY. A slow-growing community can be “vibrant” (to use the spruikers’ favourite adjective). Slow growth does not equate to “stagnant”.
Slow growth would save our community a lot of money, because we wouldn’t have to pay for so many new houses, nor suffer such high rents and house prices. We wouldn’t have to pay for so many new roads.
We could maintain existing infrastructure properly. We could invest in facilities for our people and community, instead of more concrete.
The mainstream economic equation – that more paid activity equals higher gross domestic product equals a growing “economy” equals increasing “standard of living” equals increasing quality of life – is false.
We don’t owe builders and developers a living. We owe our children a healthy and enriching place to live, and parents who have time to be with them.
How about it Canberrans? Will anyone speak up for slow growth?