Speech to eThekwini council on 30 July 2012 in motivation of my Parks Motion. The motion was voted down despite the support of almost all opposition parties:
The “rapidly changing land use of our City” is evidenced by the urgency with which the Development Planning Department has undertaken the Berea Land Use Management review as part of the Urban Core study in order to better manage the relatively uncontrolled growth of mixed use and commercial uses of our desperately needed residential land.
The “changing priorities of city government” acknowledges the fact that the municipality has a much broader set of responsibilities than merely maintaining the leafy nature of many of our suburbs. This is evidenced by the fact that the Parks department is completely unable to meet its obligations which has resulted in many neglected parks and public open spaces across the City.
Many of these neglected public open spaces are used by criminals, vagrants and as sites for illegal dumping. These activities contribute to the degradation of the surrounding residences, thus significantly affecting the quality of life of many of the people of our city. As a City which emphasizes quality of life, liveability and a caring approach to its inhabitants, I believe we are obliged to investigated proposals which may improve living conditions.
The proposal put forward in this motion takes into account the very changes in land use referred to above, where many residential suburbs, especially in parts of the City like the Berea, are now dominated by mixed and commercial land uses. However, the problem with such land uses being imposed on areas designed for residential purposes is that minimal off-street parking is available – entirely unsuitable for businesses.
The proposal seeks to investigate instances where neglected parks which are bounded by businesses can be adopted by those businesses in exchange for shared use of up to 25% of the area of the park as parking.
The businesses would then enter into a formal MOU with the Parks department which sets out the basis for the maintenance and upgrading of the Park to be shared by the council and the businesses.
The proposal seeks our approval for the Parks Department to investigate the possibility of entering into such partnerships to unlock the mutual benefits of increased off-street parking and improvement maintenance and cleanliness of our parks.
I urge you to support this practical proposal which could improve the quality of life of many people living in our City.