New Stromlo Forest Park Consultative Committee

On 5 September, the President of ACTEA was invited to attend a meeting of a new Stromlo Forest Park Consultative Committee. There has not been one of these groups representing all users of the Park since 2006 when the first stakeholder group collapsed. The Terms of Reference for the new Committee are  Stromlo Stakeholder Consultative Committee TOR.

This Committee came into being because a group comprised of Cycling ACT, Canberra Off Road Cyclists, Pedal Power ACT and Triathlon ACT and others met with the Chief Minister earlier this year. Their concerns related to the fact that the government has in the last decade been unhelpfully dumping a range of facilities into Stromlo not envisaged by the earliest proponents of the place. Facilities such as playing fields the government didn’t want taking up valuable level land in the Molonglo Valley, the swimming pool, now Leisure Centre, that was initially outside SFP and low cost tourist accommodation no one wants to build in the inner city now feature in the SFP Master Plan.

The National Capital Plan Hills and Ridges policy ensures that no new structures can be built on the face of the mountain above the old Pipeline Road so any infrastructure has to be crammed into the flat bit between the old Pipeline Road and Swallowtail Road that the ACT Government does control.

All these things have limited the options for expanding on the initial cycling and running infrastructure. The swimming centre right at the front entrance with all the associated traffic is an issue for road cyclists trying to get events in and out of Stromlo. This will only be compounded if the low cost accommodation goes in directly opposite on the entrance road as indicated in the Master Plan. The spread of Canberra and the establishment of Uriarra Village have impacted road racing in the ACT so Cycling ACT is looking for solutions.

On top of this the Government is looking at a public consultation process for the Best of Canberra Mountain Biking which we can be sure will involve attempts to increase MTB trails in Stromlo. A Discussion document is due to appear at the end of January 2020.

Of course all of this happened without any consultation or consideration of any sort that there is an equestrian community using SFP. Fortunately for that community ACTEA and the BNT were invited to the table by Venues ACT and Sport & Recreation Services. The long term plan for the Bicentennial National Trail, which once traveled through the old Stromlo Forest about where Wright is now, has been along the Molonglo River, up Holdens Creek, through SFP and out onto the Cotter Road to link with the BNT on Eucumbene Drive in Duffy. The SFP segment of that route is now signposted and ready to open. The Holdens Creek section should be signposted in the next couple of months.

At the second meeting of the Stromlo Forest Park Consultative Committee the Canberra Off Road Cyclists presented a plan for augmented facilities at the Park which took no cognisance of existing or planned equestrian facilities. There has been some pressure on ACTEA and the BNT from CORC to agree to move the trail which has been strongly resisted. You can read the ACTEA comments on the CORC Plan here.

We need to maintain the BNT through Canberra and the link through SFP is essential to that outcome over the long term.

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