Wharf Street Basin—A Next Generation Community Park


City of Canning

Canning City Centre, Western Australia

Project stage

In progress


Start date: 19 November 2018
End date: 30 June 2020

Project value

Australian Government funding:


  • Water Corporation
  • Department of Water and Environmental Regulation

Focus area

  • Natural environmental data and measurement (air quality
  • dust
  • noise
  • waterways)

Project type

  • Smart lighting
  • Community engagement
  • Smart hub/precinct
  • Smart irrigation
  • Environmental monitoring
  • People movement
  • Other
  • Smart energy (solar power, energy storage, batteries)
  • Visitor experience (information, wayfinding...)
  • Smart waste (management, recycling)

Technology type

  • Wi-Fi
  • CCTV
  • Network infrastructure
  • Data Management (Data platform, open data, data privacy and security, blockchains, standards)
  • Environmental sensors
  • Smart poles
  • IT systems (interoperability)
  • Online portal

Project link

Project summary

Redevelopment of the Wharf Street detention basin into a smart park that, through increased amenity and smart technology, provides opportunities for recreation and education within a piece of drainage infrastructure, whilst delivering improvements to natural systems, opening up previously inaccessible land.

The challenge

The primary function of the Wharf Street Basin is to provide flood protection for a portion of the Canning City Centre. The basin, which is part of the Water Corporation’s drainage network, holds up to 18,000 m3 stormwater to protect surrounding areas from flooding. It is approximately 2.5m deep and water levels exhibit a range of around 2m. The basin is rarely (if ever) completely dry and has a pumped outlet to the wetlands surrounding the Canning Civic Centre.

The site is currently inaccessible to the public. The site is surrounded by a high security fence which restricts community access. It is prone to poor amenity including rubbish and litter, as well as poor water quality. The fence limits access in some locations even to the street verge. Weed species are prevalent throughout the basin and a build-up of sediment in one location is leading to terrestrialisation. A steep rock embankment is located near the inlet and maintenance access is poor.

Any works within the basin must maintain storage capacity; maintain inflow and outflow structures; and consider variable water level in designs, in addition to addressing safety concerns and managing access.


The Next Generation Community Park will be designed to be a passive park that sits well within the city’s parks and open spaces network. It will provide significant amenity to the proposed high-density development surrounding the site in the developing city centre.

Water quality and amenity will be improved within the basin and its surrounds through revegetation with appropriate local native species. These large areas of landscaping with native species will add to the City’s intended outcomes of increasing natural areas, as stated in its recently adopted Biodiversity Strategy.

Floating bio filtration systems covered in wetland vegetation will be installed within the waterbody to create additional habitat and breeding areas for water birds, macroinvertebrates and other fauna inhabiting the site. The islands will be another element of the site’s multifunctional infrastructure, providing significant benefits for water quality and nutrient management, a key issue in these types of inland water bodies within urban areas.

A nature play trail will be installed adjacent to the granitic path that will surround a majority of the water body. This will add interest and play elements to the space. The nature play trail will provide controlled risk opportunities across the different elements that will be suitable for all ages.  Water body access will be limited to designated areas to reduce related risks, including in proximity to the nature play trail where it will be controlled by dense vegetation.

Gabion cages utilising recycled materials will increase the available habitat for small lizard and frog species while allowing controlled points of access to the water body and seating opportunities. The inclusion of stepped access will replace the steep edged retained area which could pose a safety risk for public access. Recycled materials from City construction projects and the City’s waste transfer network will be utilised for these structures, which will minimise resource use and increase biodiversity.

Nesting boxes for local wildlife will be installed in the existing trees within the site. These boxes will significantly add to the habitat opportunities for local bird species, including water bird species that require nesting hollows to breed. Nesting boxes for locally occurring micro bat species will also be installed in the existing trees. These bat species, which include the Gould’s wattled bat (Chalinolobus gouldii) are known to eat nuisance insects such as midges and mosquitoes. The City will utilise the presence of this fauna to naturally control these insect species. This will reduce the application of chemicals and other nuisance insect control measures, which would normally be undertaken around urban water bodies.

The invasive tree species will be removed from the existing island and replaced with native wetland tree species. This will reduce future maintenance costs associated with large scale tree removals, as the invasive species present are known to rapidly spread and colonise wetland environments in Western Australia. This will have a further benefit of reducing terrestrialisation of the water body.


The project delivers on a significant number of Goals and objectives in the City of Canning’s revised Strategic Community Plan 2017 – 2027: Our City: Our Future (City of Canning, 2017). The Strategic Community Plan was created from the community’s values and ideas for the future of Canning and is the key tool guiding planning and priorities in the City 2017-2027.

Specifically, this project meets the following goals and objectives:

  • Connect
    • Clean and safe public spaces
    • Improved health and wellbeing
    • High levels of participation
    • Varied and accessible community events, services and facilities
    • Diverse cultures and beliefs are respected
  • Grow
    • Well- managed natural areas supporting recreation and biodiversity
    • Clean river, waterways and natural ecosystems
    • A motivated and well-informed community
  • Build
    • Better pedestrian and cycling infrastructure
    • Public open spaces integrated into housing and urban development
    • Building and land use that is sustainable
    • Pleasing public open spaces with waterwise landscaping
  • Prosper
    • Revitalised City Centre
  • Lead
    • The City is well positioned to meet future needs
    • Collaborative relationships with stakeholders
    • Effective communication between City and community
    • Customer satisfaction


We have a funded research component to assess the project’s success at completion and beyond.  The broad scope is as follows:

The study will take baseline assessment of the current state of public amenity and community utilisation at the site and then assess the impact of the project through implementation and for a designated period following practical completion. The primary objective of the research is to capture the transition of the project site from an inaccessible water catchment to an accessible community resource. The transition will be captured in the form of a case study report describing the physical and social environment of the site and with particular emphasis on the relationship of the site to physical activity.

The research team will acknowledge, and where appropriate, will reference the Cooperative Research Centres for Water Sensitive Cities integrated research project in our case study. The key findings will focus on what changes have occurred in the transformation of the Wharf Street Basin into a place that is valued and used by the community, and what key lessons are there for ‘smart’ urban regeneration, placemaking, and water-sensitive cities that we can share with the Federal Government and other Local Governments.

Contact details

Name: Mr Gary McCullough
Phone: 0418 129 964 | 08 9231 0515
Email: Gary.mcullough@canning.wa.gov.au