New Image, New Life
The city of Perth is one of the fastest growing and largest cities in Australia. With a rich history and culture it has looked to cement its reputation as one of the world’s foremost cities and destinations. It is well on its way to accomplishing this and Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi and the City of Perth Council have played an integral part in increasing the reputation and growth of the city. Part of this may be because of her well renowned straight talk, no-holds-bar attitude that has made her so well known, and at times controversial. She stands by all of her statements, and makes an effort to clarify them when asked, and correct them when she has felt she is wrong. Many people have searched the world over for an honest politician, and in Perth they may have found one.
Mayor Scaffidi has had many occupations during her long career that has carried her from her education as a dental therapist to a stint in the 1980s as an air hostess. “You know that is the question I get asked the most, and I think I am almost tired of talking about it,” she says with more than a hint of good humour. When asked how she deals with the title of Lord Mayor, and how she wishes to be addressed, either as Lord Mayor, or Mayor Scaffidi, she laughs and says that the title is not as important as getting the work she needs to do done.
More directly related to her current position is the time she spent as the Western Australian director for Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), which has the express purpose of promoting “national economic development in a sustainable and socially balanced way.” This has been one of her continuing focuses in the development of her economic policies since she was elected in 2007. “I think that my work there has definitely shaped who I am as Mayor now,” she admits.
Part of the major renewal and expansion projects that she has helped see the light of day is the Perth City Link and Perth Waterfront projects. “Since taking office, the city centre has increased in both population and size,” she says. “If you look at the numbers over the last 10 to 20 years, it is just amazing growth. This growth, I think, is a true testament to how great this city is to live in.”
Perth City Link
The City Link project consists of transportation linkages that will make the various areas of the municipality more accessible to its population than ever before. The new pedestrian lines will run from the Perth Train Station to the new Perth Arena, “This will connect the down town business core with Northbridge,” says Mayor Scaffidi. She sees this project as a way of creating a new community as well as more accessibility to the business centres and tourist destinations.
By creating more space for residential living, the Mayor hopes that this will also reduce the cost of living that that many families are struggling with at present. By opening up living spaces in the city core, those who commute everyday might find it more economical to walk or take public transit. Of course the other aspect of this is that when there are more accommodations on the market for city living and residential housing, the market price becomes more competitive and thus more affordable to the citizens of Perth.
The project, reports the Mayor, will cover a whopping 13.5 hectares of land, and confined by the Mitchell Freeway, Roe Street, Wellington Street and the Horseshoe Bridge. This area of railway land been a physical barrier that Scaffidi hopes the project will break down. Integration is the goal, and ease of access will be its mission. This is a very necessary step in addressing the infrastructure needs of Perth, and it will open up the Central Business District while at the same time creating mixed-use area. The new Perth Arena will also house cultural and sporting events, and with City Link these events will be more accessible to everyday people living in the city.
Another target that the Lord Mayor hopes to hit is one that will see increased private investment, to create wider-spread economic benefits and drive the continued revitalisation of the city centre.
Along with the City Link project the city is also looking at the planned Waterfront renewal project. The project will look to cost $440 million dollars, but with the sales of the proposed newly developed buildings and land, it is expected to make at least half of that back, reducing the costs to tax payers.
“Along with the Perth City Link, this is the most significant thing happening in our capital city, certainly within the last 100 years,” Mayor Scaffidi says. “Right now the city is experiencing exponential and unprecedented growth. It has also given us the opportunity to rebrand ourselves as a city that is a world class, global destination city.” One of the developments that is important to her in this project is the Indigenous Cultural Centre, this will help showcase and promote aboriginal art and culture to both citizens and the world.
When this project is completed the Lord Mayor says that Perth will have improved public transportation lines through the city, and improved public roads. With space put aside for residential, retail and commercial developments, Ms Scaffidi predicts that the growth of the city’s population and businesses will continue their positive growth. The major reason for the project is the growth itself. As the community grew and new suburbs, housing, and business districts were formed they cut off direct routes to and from major population and commercial areas. City Link looks to restore these important lines of transport, this will also make the integration of the municipality and its related services more efficient and noticeable. The City calls both projects “regeneration projects” and has created all of its plans with close co-operation of all three tiers – State, Federal, and City – of government.
Rebranding the image of Perth
“It will be a livelier, more vibrant place with thousands more people living here. Our beloved waterfront will be far more appealing to people and urban design changes will result in better north-south access. The Perth City Link will see more activity and interaction between the CBD and Northbridge. It’s so important that we be a more environmentally sustainable and pedestrian friendly place by then as well,” said the Mayor in an interview.
The Waterfront Project will begin later this year with a projected completion date in 2014. When Scaffidi says rebranding, it not only means creating a bustling commercial and cultural centre, but a physical trademark that the City of Perth can become known for. Everyone outside of Australia knows the Sydney Harbour skyline and the Opera House. What Scaffidi hopes to create here is the same sort of brand. With already world renowned orchestras, cultural events, and noted acts hailing from the city, Perth already has strong offerings for the world. The Lord Mayor may be right that the establishing of a new brand might go a long way in how the rest of the world – and the rest of Australia – regards the city.