Listening to communities to protect and develop dryland ovals around Canberra

Australian Greens

Jo Clay MLA is moving a motion in the Legislative Assembly today, calling on the ACT Government to listen to communities to develop dryland ovals in a way that meets their specific local needs.

“Local communities love their neighbourhoods, and they want to make them the best possible places to gather, exercise and play,” said Jo Clay MLA, ACT Greens Member for Ginninderra.

“We are in a climate crisis and Canberra is getting hotter and drier with more extreme weather. Some years we have a lot of rain – this year is one of them – and our dams are full. But we all know this won’t last forever. We need to be careful with our water and make long-term decisions for a hotter and drier Canberra.

“Since the Millennium drought, our dryland ovals have not been irrigated. Our dryland ovals are now first and foremost informal sporting and recreation spaces. Canberrans know their suburbs best, and they want to better utilise these spaces for their communities. Particularly in Belconnen, which has 14 of the 31 dryland ovals, our communities want the ability to shape these spaces.

“For instance, communities have told me they’d like to develop their dryland ovals into BMX dirt bike tracks, nature playgrounds, enclosed dog off-leash areas and community gardens. There are so many great ideas for how we can better share this space.

“Now this motion has passed, the Assembly has called on the ACT Government to promote the Adopt-a-Park program, which provides grants funding to support community-led initiatives on urban open space such as micro-forests.

“We also need public consultation with local communities, and specific inclusion of dryland ovals, in the upcoming urban open space Management Plan.

“The motion also affirms the ACT Government’s commitment to keep working with the Florey Primary School and the community to improve the Florey Oval, which is a great pilot model for a dryland oval community upgrade and has already had some consultation.”

Greg Blood, a member of local group Florey Community Action said:

“At the moment the Florey oval is a wasted community asset. It’s in the centre of the suburb and could be part of a community hub but it’s not being used by the community.

“The community is looking for some productive use of the space. The school nearby could use some extra green space for the kids to play, to kick the ball on the ground and not get hurt. That’s an important part of growing up.

“The other two thirds could go towards a beginners BMX track or something else. What we want is for the ACT Government to work with us to develop the oval. This could be a test case, there are many other dry ovals in Canberra that could be turned into a range of things such as community gardens.”

The motion requires the ACT Government to report back to the Assembly by the first sitting week in 2023.

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