Chief Minister writes to encourage STEP

STEP has been in discussions with the Chief Minister’s Office since March 2007 to establish a regional botanic park in association with the Canberra International Arboretum and Gardens (CIAG). 

However, after our initial discussions, we began to see that the STEP vision within the current CIAG framework would be somewhat limited by the CIAG design protocols.  So we began to consider the possibility of intersecting the STEP blocks within CIAG, with a parcel of land intersecting with CIAG, that includes some remnant grassy woodland.  We felt that by annexing this parcel of land and extending the CIAG boundary to include the additional woodland space, we could create a framework, compatible with  the STEP vision.  

After some discussions with CIAG, STEP made a submission to the National Capital Authority, with a copy to the ACT Planning and Land Authority, asking for its consideration of an amendment to the draft plan for the development of the Molongolo Valley. (Our proposal was strengthened by having the support of the CIAG.)         

The STEP proposal aims to establish protection for and restoration of, the area of grassy woodland by annexing it to the CIAG. This portion of land is adjacent to CIAG Blocks 100 – 103 at the north western boundary of the Arboretum.  

A copy of the letter received from the Chief Minister is reprinted below. In it the Chief Minister expresses his wish to encourage STEP to continue with its dialogue to ensure that STEP and the Arboretum shared visions are brought together. This is an extract from the letter:

Dear Ms Robertson

Thank you for your letter of the 25 February 2008 informing me of progress in relation to your proposal to establish a regional botanic park in association with the Canberra International Arboretum and Gardens. I am pleased to hear that your discussions with Departmental officials and the design team have been productive and that the realisation of STEP’s vision into the CIAG has reached a stage where the proposed memorandum of understanding can be finalised. There are strong synergies between the Arboretum and STEP’s vision and your membership of the newly established ‘Friends of the Arboretum’ will help foster these linkages and lead to positive outcomes for both concepts.

I note your views in relation to the Draft Plan for the development of the Molonglo Valley and its intersection with the land associated with the STEP vision and the proposed boundaries of the CIAG. I understand that there are ongoing discussions between my Department , the ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) and the NationalCapital Authority(NCA) on this and a rangeof related matters and that your views are being taken into account in the context of thses discussions. Clearly thses agencies are tasked with balancing the supply of land for residential and community purposes with protection of the environment and realisation of major projects such as the Canberra International Arboretum and Gardens.

I encourage you to continue your dialogue with the above agencies to ensure that the shared visions for STEP and the Arboretum are brought to fruition.

Thank you once again for bringing this matter to my attention.

Yours sincerely

John Stanhope MLA
Chief Minister
27 March 2008.