Petition to ban canal estates in WA

WAPC header

Rather than banning ‘Canal Estates’ our WA Planning Commission is promoting them? (screen shot 25/09/14)

Please see our  Petition to ban canal estate developments in WA , to be returned by Monday 13th of October 2014.

According to the WAPC, definition of Canal Estate is as follows;

Appendix 4 - Definitions  pg 45, Development Control Policy 1.8 Canal estates and artificial waterway developments

Artificial Waterways definintion 23 Oct 2014See Development Control Policy 1.8 Canal Estates and Artificial Waterway Developments page 45 (as at 19th September, 2014).

Canal estates have been banned in NSWVictoria and on the Gold Coast, because of their many adverse environmental and economic impacts, which include;

Environmental Impacts

  • Algae blooms in single entrance marinas
  • Siltation of entrances and canals
  • Deposition of wrack (seaweed) at or near entrances
  • Concrete cancer of walls and construction
  • Loss of seagrass  (Point Peron) from dredging, boats and pollution  which has many benefits to people, industry and the environment;
    • Stabilises the sand
    • Helps prevent coastal erosion
    • Helps protect from tidal waves (storm surges)
    • Filters and cleans the water
    • Prevents algal blooms
    • Provides food and habitat for marine animals, birds and other sea plants
  • Infiltration of salt water into nearby lakes, wetlands and ground water, often affecting local bores
  • Collapse of Karst limestone leading to pot holes
  • Loss of Bush Forever, which is habitat for wildlife (i.e. Carnaby’s cockatoos, Graceful sun moth)
  • Clearing  of wildlife corridors
  • Negative impacts on marine life (penguins etc.)
  • Clearing of protective coastal foreshore reserves that absorb the impact of storms and flooding. After Super Storm Sandy, New York in spending $350m to build a vegetation buffer around Manhattan to shields the city against floods and stormwater.  In WA we are clearing coastal vegetation and building vulnerable housing estates in its place.

Social/Health Impacts

  • Privatisation and commercialisation of reserved public land for exclusive housing and a pleasure craft marina for the benefit of a few.  This is not fitting with the traditional cultural and heritage values of the site, which has been for generations an affordable sea side location for family picnics, day trips and holidays. Not for the champagne set.
  • Loss of public green space in a rapidly growing region.
  • Opportunity cost of not creating an eco-tourist park, when tourists really want nature not man-made attractions
  • Traffic congestion in and out of canal estates in many cases
  • Loss of public access
  • Noise and dust during construction
  • Wasteland after construction and before building of houses
  • Solastalgia – the sense of anxiety, loss and sadness experienced by people when their local environment is destroyed
  • Safety issues, if dredging and maintenance of the marina are not carried out properly, as seen recently at the Ocean Reef Marina, where poor maintenance cause a yachting accident.  Resulting in members of one of the clubs calling for the marina to be closed, until dredged properly.
  • Perth is one of the windiest cities in the world.  The windiest point on the Perth metropolitan coastline is Ocean Reef.  This may be great for Yachts, but it is not suitable for housing (see image below).

 Economic Impacts

  • Cost of dredging, flushing, maintaining and correcting the above environmental impacts. See page  Counting the costs of building canals 
  • Costly structural corrections (i.e. the State Government just forked out $28M to fix the Port Geograph canal development disaster)
  • Inevitable damage from more extreme weather events, such as cyclones  and storm surges going forward, with potentially massive costs to tax payers and uninsured or underinsured property owners.  The floor heights of canal houses are set to accommodate sea level rise and small storms, but are not adequate to protect from the  major storms that are being predicted  with climate change along our coast. See the recently released report by the Climate Institute and Choice – Buyer Beware.
  • According to Blake Dawson (2011) “Western Australia has Coastal Climate Change (CCC) policies but they cover a limited scope of issues.”
  • In the event of a destructive cyclone with storm surges around Perth or any of our major towns, the damage would be extensive.  The developers would get off scot free, because they follow planning regulations set by the State Government and therefore act within the law. Insurance companies do not cover for inundation from the ocean and very few cover for flooding from storm surges, especially in high risk coastal areas, so they will not suffer too greatly. If they were hit hard, premiums go up or disappear completely.  The State Government may not be too concerned, because the Commonwealth Government typically fork out for natural disasters, often borrowing from banks to cover the costs.  The big winners are the building and construction industry, because they go into over drive, charging premium rates to rebuild.  This drives the cost of building and materials up for everyone.
  • Higher rates and taxes due to high Government expenditure
  • Current role/responsibility in canal management for Local Governments, according to the WAPC – Development Control Policy 1.8  Canal estates and artificial waterway developments 2012 (see page 41);

    • assessment of scheme amendments, subdivision and
      development proposals;
    • formulation of local laws and vessel mooring management plan
      and cyclone contingency plan;
    • post-canal construction management/defects liability period;
    • provision of community facilities and infrastructure;
    • dredging and maintenance of waterway depth;
    • maintenance of breakwaters;
    • monitoring and management of water quality;
    • collection and removal of weed or waste;
    • repair and replacement of pumps and equipment required for
      water exchange and flushing;
    • water quality monitoring for microbes (ie. bacteria, viruses,
      protozoa, etc.) and chemical monitoring (ie. nutrients, heavy
      metals, etc.);
    • environmental pollution control;
    • mosquito control;
    • foreshore management; and
    • environmental audits

Storm surge

Cyclones bring storm surges, that can do more damage than the wind and are rarely covered by insurance. A couple of insurance companies still cover for storm surge in WA, but only if there is damage from the cyclones wind as well. Very few people will find that they are covered for this type of “inundation from the ocean” or “action of the sea”. Click on this image and go to the video.


Standard stormy day at the Ocean Reef Marina 2009, Perth's windiest place

Standard winter storm at the existing Ocean Reef Marina 2009

Interesting that all enphasis and action is on bushfires in WA? Click image to view report

Interesting that most of the emphasis and action on climate change adaptation is on bushfires in WA, when cyclones actually do more damage (2003)? Click image to view report

More links 

“The Association recommends that the WAPC make a strong policy position on canal estates by legislating a total ban on any further canal estate developments within WA.   The Draft Development Control Policy 1.8 – Canal Estates and artificial waterways should, therefore, be removed from the planning framework, due to the potential negative environmental, economic and social impacts of the estates, as they create an unsustainable development approach for the provision of residential land within WA.” 

Also note page 26;

Sea level rise
“Although a medium to long term risk, sea level rise will have a significant impact on coastal infrastructure and communities. The risk to coastal development, particularly canal/estuary development, could create significant liability and cost issues for Local Government. Liability may also fall to Local Government involved in the land use planning process at development approval stage due to insensitive planning which does not take into account sea level rise impacts.”   

Page 27;

“Given climate change implications, including rising sea levels, it is considered
inappropriate to continue to support this form of development within the WA planning system, therefore, the submission recommends that the WAPC legislate a total ban on any future canal estate developments.”

The recommendations were ignored see Minutes March 2012

  • Perth at risk of cyclone flood  “Mr Baverstock said if Perth was affected by another cyclone that coincided with unusually high tides and forecast sea level rises upwards of 50cm, the city could be faced with a “wall of water effectively as high as a tsunami”.
  • National Hurricane Center (US) – Storm Surge Overview  Note animations with shallow continental shelf and high continental shelf and Surge Vulnerability Facts (US);
    • From 1990-2008, population density increased by 32% in Gulf coastal counties, 17% in Atlantic coastal counties, and 16% in Hawaii (U.S. Census Bureau 2010)
    • Much of the United States’ densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above mean sea level
    • Over half of the Nation’s economic productivity is located within coastal zones
    • 72% of ports, 27% of major roads, and 9% of rail lines within the Gulf Coast region are at or below 4 ft elevation (CCSP, SAP 4-7)
    • A storm surge of 23 ft has the ability to inundate 67% of interstates, 57% of arterials, almost half of rail miles, 29 airports, and virtually all ports in the Gulf Coast area (CCSP SAP 4-7)
Cyclone over WA

Cyclone over WA (image from the documentary Countdown to Catastrophe episode 3 – Storms). Click on the image to view the documentary.

Storm surge from hurricane Sandy pushing in to the harbour.  It is unclear if floods caused from a storm surge pushing up the Swan River from a storm off Fremantle would be deemed "flooding" or "storm surge" for insurance purposes here in Perth?

Storm surge from hurricane Sandy pushing in to the harbor. This computer simulation demonstrates  how properties in canal developments in estuaries can be affected by storm surge in extreme weather events. It is unclear if floods caused from a storm surge pushing up the Swan River from a storm off Fremantle would be deemed “flooding” or “storm surge” for insurance purposes here in Perth?

“Two things strike you when you look at these maps: the vulnerability of so many Australian householders, and the towering stupidity of the local and state governments, which blithely approved such development.”

This entry was posted in Bush Forever, Canal Developments, Climate Adaptation, Climate Change, Coastal Vegetation, Environmental Protection, EPA, Extreme Weather, Green space, heritage, Storm Surge and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Petition to ban canal estates in WA

  1. Stephen Williams says:

    This land was given to the people of WA. It is not the Council’s to sell! Build the Marina on Rockingham foreshore, where plans are in place.

  2. Jason Colledge says:

    This land was signed over to the state government on the basis it was always to remain a public open space, ie – not developed! You are under a commonwealth agreement to adhere to this! Canal developments are a disaster world wide but governments and developers don’t care about the general public. Please do the right thing for us all and leave Point Peron in all its natural beauty

  3. Ryan Verge says:

    Not what the community wants, not what rich people need.

  4. Philip Treloar says:

    Canal developments pose a risk to existing infrastructure (housing, water supplies) that does not appear to be considered under the existing TPS they may make additional profits for developers but the government shouldn’t be in the business of increasing developers profits at the expense of adjoining land owners or existing infrastructure. How many people actually use the boats they have parked outside their ‘little Venice’ in Mandurah and at what environmental impact?

  5. Sue Conlan says:

    Please learn by our mistakes!
    We are sick of governments unfair developments just to canvas money for their parties!
    Make the world more liveable for more people not just a few for a short time!
    Healthy environments for healthy people!

  6. georgewburns says:

    Point Peron is too unique, too precious and too pristine to be lost forever to short-term profiteering. Let’s keep the park that was given to the people of Western Australia for the people.

  7. Sarah nilen says:

    Please ban canals in western Australia

  8. G Davies says:

    This land belongs to the public and the public doesn’t want it sold to benefit a few. Government also needs to learn that canal developments don’t work and there are too many environmental as well as physical risks such as increasing storms due to climate change.

    Point Peron needs to be left in its natural state. That’s what people want and also tourists want to see as well!

  9. Peter cunnington says:

    Why on earth does the government not look around instead of blindly copying the mistakes of others. Are they that stupid or are we for voting them in!

  10. LS says:

    Get a life people, build heaps of canals I reckon. Theres bugger all else to do in Perth. Some of the most exciting places to visit in Perth are Fremantle, Hillarys and Mindarie Quay. Some people are never happy with any change. I bet you lot are all tree hugging hippes, go live out in the bush!!

    • Don’t get confused between ‘canal estates’ and marinas. We are very supportive of the Port Rockingham marina proposal off the Rockingham foreshore/cafe strip. Marinas are built in the water not inland. See . This development does not have a residential estate. Though fully approved it is on hold because the developer ran into financial problems and they can’t find investors (not even in China). Makes you wonder how Cedar Woods and Landcorp will find investors for all of the facilities they are promising?

    • It isn’t about what you want or what a few cashed up boaties want, encase you have not noticed the boom is over. We desperately need to diversify and tourism is one of our best bets. Tourists don’t want artificial inlets and marinas, they want nature, pristine unspoiled nature, according to the market research . What you are going to see here in Perth is a lot less disposable income and a hell of a lot of boats for sale. You might still think that marinas are a pretty neat idea, but a large number of Chinese tourists for example are now very sophisticated, highly educated and far more evolved that most of us, marina hopping and sipping crappy cappuccinos is not going to do it for them.

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