In his letter “Liveability” (Fremantle Herald 27 October 2017), David Hawks pondered for whom Fremantle was being made more liveable and questioned the concentration of efforts on retail over residential.
Liveability is all those things that make the place around us work and includes our cultural and social structures, economic stability and capacity, physical and natural environment … the list can go on. Decisions of our local community leadership can and do impact on the viability of the regional economy as well as our quality of life so it is important that liveability is part of Local Government thinking.
Fremantle doesn’t belong to just one part of our community. If ownership has to be defined, Fremantle belongs to those that live here, do business here, and visit. If ownership is attributed to those that contribute financially, then Fremantle belongs to ratepayers, residential AND commercial, and the people of Western Australia. Yep, that’s right, rates income doesn’t entirely cover the cost of being the City of Fremantle.
The State invests in community services, local and main roads, the economy, transport, health, education, and major attractions (WA Maritime Museum and Fremantle Prison). Even our cultural institutions (the various football clubs, Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle Press, Arts Source or Spare Parts Puppet Theatre) have foundation State support. So there is a little bit of everyone contributing to Fremantle.
Fremantle’s historic CBD commercial hub, exists alongside significant commercial precincts in O’Connor/Hilton, South Fremantle and North Fremantle. Combined, they contribute over 46% of the City of Fremantle rate base. Those zones are also vital for regional employment and economic development.
Having liveability on the agenda is acknowledging that things have changed and more is still needed. Across many decades, our population has been relatively stagnant and investment in Fremantle was hampered. As other commercial centres grew, Fremantle did not and it changed the face of our street level/retail landscape.
As a place of commerce, we do need to think differently and competitively. For those businesses that rely on passing trade and/or their destination status we, Fremantle, need to strive to build a 7 day week economy.
This is why the attraction of a large public sector workforce, a daytime working population, to the Kings Square precinct is vital to Fremantle. This is why new centrally located, medium density residential development is essential. That is why we need to increase the number of hotel rooms in Fremantle and have the conversation about different types of residential accommodation. This is why we need to market Fremantle beyond our borders as a destination for commerce, tourism and future residents. More people living and coming to Fremantle increases viability of our community and the scope of our business community. It also increases the number of people paying rates and sharing the cost of operating the City.
It takes time. The economic impact of major projects underway will not be experienced for a number of years, so we still need to pay attention to the now. The champions of the streets of Fremantle are the people that open the doors of their businesses every day. Like our residential community, our business community is diverse, and ownership is mostly independent. This means the ebbs and flows of a local and state economy is not hidden in a corporate balance sheet in Sydney, Melbourne or London, it is felt directly and daily by the business owner that opens the door.
A more liveable city is about building a great place to live and a great place to do business. No matter if you are a resident, worker, business owner or visitor – Fremantle needs and welcomes you all.