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The City of Melbourne has released a draft Covid-19 Reactivation and Recovery Plan, to be considered by the Future Melbourne Committee on 15 September 2020.
The draft plan, which was developed through extensive community and stakeholder consultation, outlines 7 key ‘Reactivation and Recovery Initiatives’ which respond to the immediate recovery efforts and long-term regeneration and ongoing resilience:
- Prioritise public health and wellbeing
- Reactivate the city
- Build economic resilience
- Expand equitable opportunity and access
- Transform our spaces and buildings
- Strengthen community participation and align with others
- Evaluate, measure and progress
With Melbourne known as the ‘World’s Most Liveable City’ this important Plan highlights the immediate actions to be undertaken to ‘support Melbourne’s recovery and shape the future Melbourne we aspire to’.
Covid-19 has had a profound impact on our way of life, which will continue without immediate intervention. Small businesses and a casualised workforce, which are at the core of vibrant and liveable cities, have had to bear the brunt of these impacts.
The draft plan includes a comprehensive list of priority actions, which respond to the first two immediate initiatives; prioritising public health and wellbeing and reactivating the city.
Key priority highlights include:
- Adjust our civic spaces to make physical distancing easier, including expanding footpaths, reducing speed limits and converting selected streets into pedestrian priority zones.
- Work with the Victorian Government, Metro Trains and Yarra Trams to build confidence in the public transport network as safe, frequent and reliable, to support city workers returning to the city.
- Deliver additional bike lanes and pedestrian walkways to provide safe and active transport options for people, to connect travel into and through the central city.
- Continue to provide safe accommodation for people experiencing homelessness in partnership with the Victorian Government ending rough sleeping and homelessness including advocacy for wrap around services.
- Expand dining opportunities when and where it is safe to do so. Laneways and outdoor dining have shaped the distinctive character and atmosphere of our city. Drawing on this, we will encourage some of Melbourne’s 2390 cafes and restaurants to apply to expand outdoor dining in different ways such as extending their footprint, using on-street parking bays where safe and extending hours of operation.
- Activate the little streets and laneways. Trialling new street configurations that will allow pedestrians to move more freely and take advantage of outdoor dining and other activities. Starting with sections of Little Collins and Little Bourke Streets, the rest of the ‘Little Streets’ program includes Flinders Lane and Little Lonsdale Street. Transforming these streets will support the recovery and activities of hundreds of businesses.
Many of the priority actions, (including the full list in the draft Plan) are part of existing strategies which are being fast-tracked, while others have been created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic since it emerged earlier this year.
Activation of the ‘Little Streets’ including pedestrian and cycling infrastructure have direct links to 10-year Transport Strategy for Melbourne. The ability to push forward with new infrastructure will have the ability to accelerate the transport vision for the CBD, while achieving Covid-safe principles of social distancing and moving people away from private vehicle trips in the future.
Similarly, the provision of safe accommodation to homeless people during the pandemic represents a significant opportunity to continue efforts to find safe, reliable and affordable housing for some of our most vulnerable members of the community.
The importance of safe cities for everyone cannot be understated and prioritising a safe return to working and visiting the city, including for those who live in the CBD, is welcomed as the guiding principle for the recovery.
We recognise the City of Melbourne and its stakeholders for their effort in preparing this comprehensive and timely draft plan. The ongoing efforts by all stakeholders, including city workers, commuters, employers and visitors will be critical to reaching a ‘Covid normal’ and a thriving Melbourne as we emerge into the future. ratio: is ready to support Local and State Government organisations, the community and our clients throughout both Melbourne and the rest of the State during the recovery phase.
Author: Ben Krastins, Senior Traffic Engineer
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