Looking towards the future

By Meg Hill

While the Victorian Government has outlined the trajectory of a staged reopening, the City of Melbourne has begun to think through the needs of the CBD post-COVID-19.

The moment has coincided with the release of the Council’s draft annual 2020-2021 budget. 

The budget has allocated funds to the logistics and provision of social distancing, while providing financial support for other areas to get back on their feet.

The most concrete decision has been to remove selected car parks to widen footpaths and create kilometres of new bike lanes, to create a more physically distanced city.

Of the $15 million budgeted toward new bike lanes, $10 million is new funding. The council aims for a quick provision of “pop-up” lanes while permanent arrangements are made.

The end result could be more than 12 kilometres of new bike lanes. 

Another $4.5 million was allocated to footpath work – with the upgrades on Elizabeth St marking that area as first on the list.

The Council has also given thought to the kind of events that will be needed to draw people back to the city when it is safe to do so.

A giant street party is one specific idea being thought over, stretching potentially all the way from Carlton to Docklands and Southbank in a celebration of reopening.

In terms of financial support, the council has announced it will invest $17 million in the arts and creative sector, which may include a focus on making streets and open spaces more “interesting and vibrant”.

A $2.6 million investment specifically into events has also been announced, to support around 60 events in the municipality.

“Our investment will ensure Melbourne is ready to welcome people back to the city once restrictions on large gatherings of people have been relaxed,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said •

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