Don Punch encourages community to have its say on parks

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Bunbury MLA Don Punch.
Camera IconBunbury MLA Don Punch. Credit: South Western Times

Bunbury residents have been encouraged by Bunbury MLA Don Punch to have their say on parks and playgrounds to help make a “potentially good policy, a really good policy”.

Mr Punch’s comments were made after Bunbury City Council endorsed a strategy last week which would see the number of its playgrounds reduced.

He claimed that criteria used to assess parks would potentially not take into account the “social context” of where the park was located.

“A park’s usage changes over time as kids grow older,” he said.

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“It seems to me the strategy of having a more dynamic approach to parks rather than simply putting equipment in for the next 20 years would be a good one.

“It might evolve from toddler type play equipment to teenage stuff to adult gym equipment or dog walking and that sort of stuff.”

As part of the strategy, staff will assess how accessible parks are throughout the city’s nine residential suburbs.

Distances of 400m and 800m will be used to determine if homes were within a safely accessible distance of park and playgrounds.

Mr Punch said he was concerned the 800m radius would be a direct route and not one which could actually be walked.

“If the route you need to take to the park is not a direct one then an 800m radius could end up being a 1.5km walk,” he said.

“If you’re a grandparent taking your grandchildren to the park then that could become difficult.”

He said there was a chance to have a community conversation while the council developed its strategy, rather than simply deciding there needed to be so many parks within a certain radius.

“I think the comment was made at the meeting that we can’t afford all these parks,” he said.

“Well if you can’t afford all these parks then you can’t afford to do major studies on cultural precincts or major business analysis on projects which would never see the light of day.

“Fundamentally, the core business of a council has to be improving the amenity and quality of life of people who live in the community.”

Public comment on the park and playground public open space strategy can be made until June 17 via the council’s website.

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