Is this what community debate about the Ellerton Drive extension (EDE) has sunk to? That question arose viewing the battle for ‘likes’ on the pro-EDE vs anti-EDE Facebook sites. We’ve all heard about pages that have ‘gone viral’ because viewers have sent it onto friends who do like-wise and so on. When you toss in their children’s likes and those drummed up through site sponsors, the results are as credible as political promises.
Social media leaves out a large swathe of the population that is not engaged with these platforms for various reasons, including me, my parents and many friends. Whatever happened to the principle of ‘access and equity’ where efforts are made to inform and engage people from all walks of life, all ages, all levels of ability (including IT literacy and access to computers), etc?
Sure, social media is a useful communication tool but let’s not kid ourselves that the number of people ‘liking’ a page represents the views of a broad cross-section of the local community.
Broad community awareness of EDE issues is not great. Many people have only recently become aware of the range of negative impacts for the town (and our wallets) following concerted efforts by many community groups to raise awareness through door-knocking, petitioning, leafleting and organising community meetings with councillors (which Council has unbelievably discouraged).
Most I spoke with support a genuine ‘bypass’ to address CBD traffic congestion and Googong traffic but oppose the EDE as it will have a minimal (5%) impact on CBD traffic and make other existing bottle-necks (eg Yass Road/Pialligo Ave and Tompsitt/Lanyon Drive) considerably worse.
The proposed road will also wreck eco-tourism opportunities through cutting our links with accessible high value bushland, diminish the quality of life for people in most suburbs and Jerrabomberra, introduce about a dozen new traffic lights through-out the town, require the 4-laning of Old Cooma Road and all for the princely sum of more than $120 million dollars for the EDE and associated road and intersection changes.
If some in Council want to wreck the town by condemning it to being just a cheaper accommodation destination for people working in or visiting Canberra, put the facts out there in full, take it to the next Council election and get a true mandate to take away Queanbeyan’s few remaining country benefits.