Tuesday, 11 March 2008


Everybody in South Australia will know of the tussles that have been carried out over the future of the Victoria Park Racecourse during the last few years. For other readers' information, Adelaide is unique in that the city centre, of 1 mile square, is (supposed to be) completely surrounded on all sides by a wonderful zone we call The Parklands.This also extends out over the Torrens River and around North Adelaide. Over the years various buildings and projects have been built here and there on the parklands and the final straw came when we, the people of Adelaide, were informed of a plan to "upgrade" an old horse race-track grandstand and make it into a huge, multi-storey corporate facility. The people of Adelaide were furious. The local council, to their credit, were not in favour of such a monstrous development and tried to negotiate another deal but the state government entered the fray and said it would force the council to accept the proposal because it would be a huge asset to South Australia. After a lot of bad tempered debate and bad language and bad feeling, and a council election which strengthened the council against the plan, the government recently backed down when the jockey club in the centre of the whole controversy threw up their hands and said the whole deal was off and they were going to redevelop another race-course instead. Thank all the gods for that little bit of sanity! So, what to do with a dilapidated grand stand and a whole lot of open space now that it won't be a barely used race course anymore? The people of Adelaide have stood shoulder to shoulder through all this, against multi-storey buildings of any kind being built there and the radio has been full of suggestions of where to bury certain politicians and where we should stick the remains of this old and useless structure ASAP!

Well, it seems some sense is finally coming to the hot heads in power because I have just read in the local Messenger newspaper a very interesting proposal by the Lord Mayor of Adelaide, still sketchy and ambiguous but worth waiting around for to get more details. Of course he claims (according to this paper) the ideas are his own but if they had listened more closely to The People, he would have heard these suggestions being discussed daily, for some years, at dinner tables, on talk-back radio and between those who actually use the park to walk their dogs and stroll to the city, through a beautiful open, traffic-free zone. In one sentence the proposal is to include wetlands, walking and bike tracks, a new sports field and a repair job on the heritage-listed grandstand as well as better parking. The fact that these parklands are owned by the people for the exclusive use of the people and always have been and always should be, seems to have been lost in the mists of time because there is a new idea it should be "turned into a people's park". Well, I don't care who takes the credit now for returning it to the people, I am just very, very pleased that it seems safe from the marauding hands of the corporate sector, for the time being.

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