I saw this in today’s newspaper and was relieved to see that I’m not the only person who feels this way. In fact I’d been planning to write an open letter to Brisbane City Council about the state of Fortitude Valley for some time, but never made the effort to sit down and write about it. But upon seeing this, I have been motivated to finally have my say:
Dear Brisbane City Council,
I live in Fortitude Valley and have done so for a number of years. I love the convenience and how close I am to everything in the inner-City. Plus I love the fact I can go out for a night on the town and it’s only a short stumble home afterwards. I don’t intend to move away from the Valley anytime soon, but there are days when I wonder why I live there when I am confronted with the worst this suburb has to offer, more often than not.
While I try to walk to work every morning, I sometimes have to catch a train which means taking the escalators from Wickham St up to Valley Metro and am constantly appalled by the state of things in such a small space. First of all, you have to avoid a close encounter with some of the Valley’s least desirable residents who take to sitting on the ground outside Cafe One, yelling at each other and in some cases, getting into fist fights and dealing drugs. Then you have to deal with the escalators which do not work 99% of the time and are caked in filth, only to be greeted with the disgusting mess that is the walkway between McWhirters building and the Metro food court. I have literally never seen it clean. There are inches of dust and grime coating old rubbish and fast food containers. I once saw a pie that has been smeared into the wall last about a month before it was cleaned (or most likely, fell off on its own accord). Considering Fortitude Valley station is the 3rdbusiest in Queensland, this is appalling.
Imagine being a tourist, who has taken the train to the (in)famous Fortitude Valley and that is what they see. Or if they choose to enter the Valley via the main exit they get to witness another nasty side of the Valley which is Brunswick St between the five-ways and Wickham Street. This is another area that I’ve never seen clean and always has a range of dodgy looking people hovering around, asking for change and then abusing you if you refuse. On one side of the street you have dank old cheap shops that you can smell from a mile off and haven’t been updated since the building used to be a Walton’s, facing $1 peepshows, strip joints, nightclubs and the dingy Chopstix Arcade.
The rest of the Valley ain’t much better either. Footpath’s are in a terrible state (though some have been totally replaced near our unit which was a nice surprise), the Brunswick St Mall is ridiculously outdated and the TCB arcade that was probably meant to raise the mall’s profile echoes as it’s almost completely empty. The China Town mall has been updated and looks kind of cool (if not a bit barren) but otherwsie I haven’t seen anything in the public areas of the Valley updated since I’ve lived here. Most of China Town is revolting too. How most of those restaurants haven’t been shut down for health and safety violations is beyond me. Some mornings as I walk to work, I gag on the smell emanating out of the bins sitting out on the footpath and can only imagine what the kitchen’s look like if that’s what was taken out.
I’m not saying the entire Valley needs to be cleaned up, renovated and changed. All I’m asking for is a bit of a spruce up and disciplining the daggy shops for stinking up the place so badly. Fix the shitty footpaths’s, replace the devastated street furniture, jazz up the Brunswick St mall and make shop owners fix up their shit because seeing massive holes in the overhangs of shops, many of which still bear the names of shops from 25 years ago is nasty. The Valley should retain some of its slightly derelict charm, but overall it needs some serious updating, a good scrub down and if possible, PLEASE move the drunks and druggo’s elsewhere so I don’t have to fear for my safety anytime after 8pm. It’s shouldn’t just be about the nightlife on Friday and Saturday nights, it should be a place for people to visit at any time of the day, on any day of the week. After all, those Valley markets on Saturday’s aren’t even worth a second glance these days and every other retail outlet is having a closing down sale because no one wants to spend time in the Valley any more.
Thanks in advance,