Few things showcase the two directions in which Canberra is being pulled right now than the debate over plans to fill in almost three hectares of Lake Burley Griffin to create what the ACT government is touting as the "Acton Waterfront Precinct".
The proposal, made possible by a land swap that threatens the future of the Curtin horse paddocks, would continue the redevelopment of the northern shore of the west basin started with the new Henry Rolland Park.
The Acton Waterfront proposal has emerged as the latest fault line separating two very different visions of Canberra's lake foreshore.
The Acton Waterfront proposal is the latest fault line separating two very different visions for Canberra's lake foreshore.
On the one hand you have groups such as the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians, and a cohort of older Canberrans who have fond memories of when this city was a medium sized country town.
On the other, you have a territory government which has to rise to the challenge of meeting the future needs of one of the fastest growing small cities in the country.
Recent population growth has exceeded all the previous estimates. The cost of providing basic services gets more expensive by the day. And, on top of this, a shortage of land is pushing the cost of home ownership beyond the reach of many.
One of the beauties, from the government's point of view at least, of developments such as those on the shores of the west basin, is that they create opportunities for it to haul itself up by its own bootstraps.
The cost of developing significant new public facilities, in this instance a 500 metre long board walk and a park, can be offset by revenue raised from private apartment developments mooted for the middle of the decade.
Given City Renewal Authority chief executive, Malcolm Snow, said "well over 30 per cent" of the 2.8 hectare precinct would be preserved as public space it is pretty obvious there should be a lot of change.
That would come in handy when the bills start coming in for the second stage of light rail, and the other infrastructure projects the government is committing itself to.
The Acton project's critics, who say the elegant proportions of the lake as originally outlined by the Griffins have gone out the window, believe the Barr government is trading off a priceless heritage for a fistful of dollars.
They argue ringing a so-called "public space" with multi-storey apartment buildings would make visitors from other parts of Canberra feel excluded.
Heather Henderson, a well-known resident whose connections with the lake date back to when her father, Sir Robert Menzies, kickstarted the long dormant Canberra project in the post-war period, has made no secret of her views.
In a letter to The Canberra Times she wrote: "An upgrade? I have found no-one who agrees with that... The whole thing is irrational, unnecessary, and, indeed, vandalism on a grand scale".
Mrs Henderson is not alone in this view. This is something the National Capital Authority must take into account now it has begun public consultation.
The Acton proposal could change the character of central Canberra forever.
Public consultation is not just a box to be ticked. It is a crucial part of the democratic process.
Canberra's citizens, including those determined to defend the Griffin legacy and the ACT's status as "the bush capital", need to be confident their valid concerns will be listened to and acted upon.