Melbourne treasures its lovely colonial buildings

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I WAS very pleased to read the article by Mandlakazi Skefile in Talking Tourism on Monday (“Seeing what makes city special”). Here she extolled the virtues of Melbourne’s renaissance strategy as a model for the tourism industry in our city.

There is definitely much for us to emulate. We visited Melbourne last Christmas, and enjoyed the train service, cycle paths, museums, art galleries, botanical gardens, and coffee shops and walkways alongside the Yarra River in the city centre.

As with Port Elizabeth, Melbourne has many beautiful colonial buildings. However in Melbourne’s case they are treasured.

Here is a picture, left, of the Melbourne Town Hall all bedecked for Christmas. In contrast, our colonial treasures are suffering at the hands of so-called developers who for years have been allowed to get away with boarding up buildings such as the post office.

We also seem to have no pride or even a modicum of an idea what the word maintenance means. Let us take the ficus tree that is growing out of a parapet on the Feather Market Centre in full view of the public.

The tree has been there for more than a year. Can the people responsible for the maintenance of the centre not see it?

It has already cracked the parapet. Ficus trees that grow on buildings are insidious and their roots will do huge damage.

The general lack of maintenance on our historical buildings, like the unattended ficus tree, will lead to much greater damage and costs of repair in the long run. If we want to be like Melbourne we have to take some pride in the best of our cultural heritage, whether European or African, and be prepared to look after the assets we have.

Another major problem in our city is that there appears to be no significant drive to stop the shocking state of littering which undermines all our attempts to put on a good show for tourists. New MBDA projects such as the Donkin, Helenvale, Red Location and Kings Beach renewal are fantastic, but they cannot be islands floating in a sea of dirt and dereliction.

Martheanne Finnemore, Port Elizabeth

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