Perth Mayor candidate Mark Gibson discusses what he thinks will shape a better future for the city.
OK, enough with the Perth bashing. Enough with the negativity. It’s not helping businesses, residents or visitors to our city. It’s not helping Perth.
The quest to become the next Lord Mayor currently seems to be a race to the bottom, a competition to see who can paint the bleakest picture of street violence, business closures and impending doom.
As the only Lord Mayoral candidate who lives in the City of Perth, I believe that I’m well placed to not only assess the current state of our city, but to come up with practical ways towards a better future.
Yes, the city needs cleaning up. Yes, businesses need assistance. And yes, we need to find ways of bringing people into Perth.
So let’s begin by removing the impediments to people working and doing business in the city. The Perth Parking Levy should be scrapped. This tax on city businesses currently has $129 million sitting in state government coffers. That’s $129 million which should be put towards improving public transport, expanding the popular CAT bus services, building cycle paths and widening footpaths, not sitting in the bank.
Let’s cut the red tape and approval times for small businesses wanting to improve their offering. One business owner I met on the campaign trail told me of his three year council fight to expand his al fresco area by just a few people. Three years!
The next big challenge is bringing people in from the suburbs. Getting the foot traffic back. Yes, free parking helps but there are some other simple ways to do this.
The streets need to be cleaned more often, the bins emptied, security patrols increased. Then, we need to bring the streets alive.
If elected, I will employ struggling artists to provide free family entertainment. Pop up concerts, performances, fashion shows. Annual festivals are one thing, but why not create a carnival atmosphere all year round?
Further than that, I believe blocking off some streets to cars and handing them back to pedestrians will help bring vibrancy back to our city.
William and James Streets in Northbridge are perfect for this. I want to set up drop-off zones on Roe and Francis Streets on weekend evenings. Then we need to activate the streets with entertainment and better lighting, to make people feel safe.
It’s a proven fact that bigger crowds mean less trouble. No dark, quiet corners, just a city full of life and joy.
Make no mistake, I’m aware that the post-COVID world will continue to provide challenges and we need to offer business incentives to continue working in the city.
We also need to urgently identify city buildings that can be used to house the homeless, while offering more support and funding to the wonderful groups currently assisting our rough sleepers.
Business owners tell me that the negative campaigning is counter productive and economically harmful. If we want people to find their love for Perth again, we need to spread the love ourselves.
The state government has recently shown how strong leadership can foster goodwill and place WA in an enviable position. With similar leadership and a positive plan from our city council, we can and will get through this.
I don’t pop into the city for photo opportunities before returning to my suburban sanctuary. My home address is Perth, 6000. I live and breathe the city every single day and night.
It’s the sort of full-time commitment that I believe Perth ratepayers, residents and business owners deserve from their next Lord Mayor.
* Business News has offered all five candidates for Lord Mayor the opportunity to write an opinion piece for this website. Their articles have run as they were originally written, though Business News reserves the right to edit for legal reasons.