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We all have to live somewhere and currently (2006 Census) 79% of us live in separate houses, 12% in townhouses and 9% in flats; a total of 528,533 dwellings. If we expand the area of Perth to live in the same dwelling types, with the same proportion of open space, then the city would have to grow to almost 12,000 sq km.
This means the metro area would have to extend from Lancelin in the north to the Lakes turnoff in the East and beyond Mandurah in the south. That’s not quite South Geraldton or North Bunbury, but it’s getting close.
According to the City Mayors Statistics website (www.citymayors.com), the world city with the largest land area is the New York Metro area at 8,683 sq km, holding 17.8 million people. So Perth is already around 2/3rds the land area of the Big Apple, but with just 14% of the population. Could it really expand to a third larger in area terms than the city that is so good they named it twice (New York, New York)? And will Perth then be known as the Big Rock Melon?
Bumper to Bumper
Perth people love their cars and in 2006 there were around 900,000 private motor vehicles. If we show the same propensity to get around by motor vehicle we could have almost 2,000,000 privately owned cars by 2050. Would this mean more than doubling our current 13,500 kilometres of roads so that we aren’t in permanent gridlock?
And we are still using these cars to get to and from work, despite the exhortations of environmentalists. Currently almost 75% of Perth people drive to work and under 10% use public transport. This is a ratio that will almost certainly have to change by 2050, unless we all start riding electrically powered Vespas, or perhaps the local product, the V-Moto?
Power For The People
Of course twice as many people means twice as much power and water will be required. According to the Water Corporation “Climate change has seen a dramatic reduction in the stream-flows into Perth’s dams by up to 50% as a result of a 12% decline in rainfall over the last decade.”
In the 2008/2009 financial year, the average amount of scheme water each person used in Perth was 280 litres each day (www.watercorporation.com.au/D/dams_storage.cfm). Unless we start showering together and brick paving our lawns we might need to start building more desalination plants. The Water Corporation has released a 50 year plan to deliver sustainable water and wastewater services to Perth (www.thinking50.com.au) to address this issue.
Alinta Gas has 3,000MW of installed generation capacity of gas, to fire up our water heaters, stoves and space heaters. Maybe global warming won’t see us need to increase that capacity by as much as the projected population increase?
Similarly, if we keep using our air conditioners, clothes dryers and electric leaf blowers as much as we do now, we will need to double the amount of electricity that we currently produce.
Packed School Lunches
We’re constantly being told we need to get smarter as a nation and as at 2008 WA had 1,065 schools, catering to 275,000 students. Schools Australia (cat. 4221.0)
In an expanded Perth this could mean over 2,300 schools and over 600,000 students. This may mean stiff competition for school names. Already there are 73 schools named after saints, including 12 after St Joseph and 9 after St Mary. The canonisation of Mary McKillop should see a rise in the latter count.
We’ve heard about how the population is ageing, but even if it didn’t, growth alone would increase the numbers requiring assistance. In 2006 just over 50,000 people required assistance with a core activity such as self-care. By 2050 this could rise as high as 112,000.
So, what does the future hold? According to UWA Professor Richard Weller, by using a unique approach, diversifying, whilst becoming more resilient and experimenting with new forms, Perth should meet its expected population growth of over 3 million people by 2050.
Article by Phil Smythe, Client Liaison Unit - Living extravagantly on a quarter acre block.
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