Do younger and older Canberrans agree on a vision for Canberra?

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Canberrans under 26 years of age share many of the same aspirations for Canberra as the population as a whole, but also have different priorities, according to an online survey of 1442 people conducted as part of the Time to Talk Canberra 2030 initiative in 2010.

On the issue of the greatest challenge for Canberra being a liveable city in future, about 34% of the under 26 age group nominated affordability and choice of housing as the biggest challenge, whereas 25% of all people surveyed saw this as the biggest challenge. On the issues of the need for more public transport, reducing urban sprawl and changing behaviour to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the views of the under 26 year olds were not very different from those of all people surveyed.

All those surveyed, including the under 26 age group, agreed that the three things the government should pay most attention to when making decisions about Canberra’s future are:
• Ensuring efficient, accessible and affordable transport options for getting around in Canberra
• Keeping Canberra as a green, leafy city with lots of open space, and
• Ensuring affordable and appropriate housing options for all Canberrans

Survey respondents as a whole, including the under 26-age group, expressed a preference for a mix of housing on the fringe and in existing suburbs. This was closely followed (especially in the under 26 age group) with support for a more compact city with more people living in existing suburbs. Very few respondents as a whole favoured more new housing on the fringe.

To manage resources into the future and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there was greatest support across age groups for investing in sustainable transport options such as public transport and cycle ways. Significantly more people under 26 years of age than the survey group as a whole wanted the government to invest in more renewable energy to enable ACT customers to buy green energy. About half of both the under 26ers and respondents as a whole wanted planning for a compact city, and incentives to businesses and households to reduce energy and water use.

So the upshot of all this is that while the under 26 year age group indicated in this survey a greater focus on affordable housing, and on a more compact city, there was also a lot of common ground where their interests were similar to those of the population as a whole.

On the issue of desired housing mix, climateXchange sought further insight from the Outcomes Report on the Time to Talk Canberra 2030 initiative. The Report suggested that while the Canberra community was willing to accept change and increased density in order to have improved public transport, the acceptance of change was qualified:

“The community wants high quality design and development and early consultation on policy change and development projects. Universal design is called for in all new housing so that houses are suited to people of all ages and for those with a disability. People asked for ‘enforcing good environmentally sustainable density with lower energy and water use.’ “ (p.39, Outcomes Report)

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