Protesters gathered on Watton Street in Werribee today to voice their concerns about the City of Wyndham’s plan for the “20 Minute City.” Organized by the City of Wyndham Action Group, the protest aimed to highlight the potential implications of this new development concept. The 20 Minute City proposes creating self-contained neighborhoods where residents can live, work, shop, study, and play within a 20-minute radius, promoting active modes of transportation like walking, cycling, and e-transport.
While the idea of a 20 Minute City offers benefits such as reduced traffic congestion and increased accessibility, protesters raised several questions and concerns. One major concern was the potential limitations imposed on residents. They questioned whether individuals would be allowed to work outside their designated area, and what type of housing would be implemented—expressing worries about high-rise apartments blocking sunlight.
The issue of transportation was also raised, with protesters seeking clarity on whether car usage would be restricted in favor of public transport. They also questioned the freedom to shop outside their designated area and hire tradespeople who reside outside the neighborhood. Concerns were voiced about potential restrictions on leaving the designated area and how this would affect children’s schooling or if families lived outside the neighborhood.
The protesters also expressed unease about potential road closures and the extent of data collection and surveillance in the proposed SMART City. They sought answers regarding the use of CCTV surveillance, the storage and access to personal data, and the collection of data through public Wi-Fi.
Looking to the future, the protesters referred to ongoing trials in Oxford, England, where residents are limited to 100 trips outside their zone per year, with fines imposed for exceeding this limit. They highlighted that certain zones might become inaccessible, resulting in longer travel times and increased congestion in alternative routes. The protesters emphasized their belief in the freedom of movement as Australian citizens and expressed concerns about any restrictions being imposed on their movement.
Another point of contention raised by the protesters was the financial management of the City of Wyndham. They criticized the council’s record debt and borrowing practices, attributing it to the area’s rapid growth. The protesters claimed that the council was failing to meet its current responsibilities, such as maintaining basic infrastructure like roads, footpaths, rubbish collection, and parks. They called for the council to prioritize these fundamental aspects instead of imposing high-tech plans without sufficient consultation.
The City of Wyndham Action Group urged the council to listen to the concerns of the residents and reminded them of their role as elected officials to serve the community. They emphasized the importance of local-level engagement and the need for residents to have a say in shaping their city’s future.