Geelong’s Market Square shopping center and Busport transport interchange have been described as “festering sores” in an extraordinary speech by the City of Greater Geelong’s highest ranking officer.
The outburst took many city councillors by surprise, with a source telling Geelong Broadcasters the CEO’s frank comments were certain to be discussed at tonight’s scheduled meeting.
Martin Cutter’s address to a business luncheon last week included criticisms of what he views as the city’s dependence on cars at the expense of “active transport” options such as bicycles.
According to the Geelong Advertiser Mr Cutter, who will finish up next month after cutting his contract short, laid bare his intense dislike for the bus exchange.
“I hate it. I think we all hate it,” he reportedly said.
“It needs to go, it needs to be shifted – it needs to be improved.”
Councilor Eddy Kontelj told Geelong Broadcasters he agreed that the bus terminal was problematic.
“We should be doing something about it and the state government should be doing something about it,” Cr Kontelj said.
“I just wish that Martin had used his voice earlier on to express the concerns that we have around that issue.”
Cr Kontelj was more guarded about his thoughts on the privately-owned Market Square, saying the city needed to be “in the tent” with the facility’s owners and trying to forge a way forward.
“What we can’t do is be just throwing blows through the media. What we need to be doing is working with the owners of the property to try and find a solution.”
Mr Cutter pointed to Melbourne’s Emporium as an example of what shopping center improvements can achieve.
“It’s easy for me to say, I don’t have the investment funds, council doesn’t have the investment funds, but it’s not working, something needs to be done in the area to lift that,” he told the event, which was hosted by the Urban Development Institute of Australia.
He also took aim at overwhelming criticism of the city’s controversial bike lanes.
“We all have an opinion about bike lanes. We can all be critical about the way they look and what they do, but if we’re going to make Geelong different we need to invest in active transport.
“We can’t keep making more roads, it will not fix what our problems are – it’s about being visionary, about looking to the future and deciding what we want Geelong to look like and not just asking for more cars to come into the center of the city.”
Mr Cutter announced his resignation in early July, saying he wanted to focus on ‘personal pursuits’ and spend time with his family.
Image: (top) Market Square [Geelong Broadcasters]; (middle) outgoing CoGG CEO Martin Cutter (City of Greater Geelong)