Don't risk lagoon funding

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Don't risk lagoon funding


by Mat Churchill

Get behind the lagoon project. That's the unambiguous message from Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce president, Ken Dobbs.

Mr Dobbs said that $20 million in Government funding from the $1.4 billion Regional Development Fund could be at risk should the community continue to bicker over the merits of the proposed lagoon.

"I think the risks are very high," he said. "From a Chamber point of view we want to secure the best financial package from State and Federal Governments.

"There will be no cut if we can't compete with other projects (around Australia). It's probably the most important issue we've faced in 20 years."

The Minister for Regional Australia, Simon Crean, confirmed that competition for funding will be fierce.

"The allocation of funding will be competitive, merit-based and only the applications that have the backing of local Regional Development Australia committees will be considered.

"We want applications for projects that stack up. Projects that will boost economic development, create local jobs, and lift the quality of life in local communities and regions."

Far North Queensland currently has the highest unemployment rate in Australia at around 13% which could influence the Government's decision on whether to allocate funding for the lagoon.

Division 10 Councillor Julia Leu said she hoped residents would take the opportunity to add their thoughts, comments or ideas to the Master Plan’s development, before the current public consultation period closes next week.
“This is an exciting phase for Port Douglas – it’s important that local people are fully involved in the most significant project in the history of Port Douglas,” Cr Leu said.
“We have taken the Master Plan concepts out to the community through a shopfront office and presentations, but there are still many people who have not yet contributed.
“There is one more week to do so and I would greatly encourage anyone in that situation to either drop in to the shopfront or contact Council."
Cairns Regional Council CEO Lyn Russell said preferred options for key concepts – such as the location of a lagoon-style swimming pool – were based on a feasibility study combined with public input.
“This is the largest project in Port Douglas for decades and a great deal of work is going on behind the scenes to ensure its success in terms of preserving the character of the township while adding to its attraction for tourists and residents alike,” Ms Russell said.
“Unfortunately, there is some misinformation out there, and we would invite anyone interested to see the design for themselves and to talk to Councillors or council officers so they can gain a complete picture of the project.”
The Master Plan concept design includes boardwalks, a lookout, outdoor performance space, market area and large lagoon-style pool.
Mayor Val Schier said community consultation was a priority for Council on any project and she encouraged involvement in all major planning initiatives.
“At the end of the day, it is the people who live in Port Douglas who will be using these new facilities and public spaces every day and we want to give them something they can be proud of and take ownership over,” Cr Schier said. 

Information and feedback sessions are being held over the coming days before the 21 April cut off date. Here are the details:

What: Information session on all Master Plan projects for Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Operators
When: Thursday 14 April, 5pm - 7pm
Where: Port Douglas Master Plan Shopfront, Saltwater Building, Macrossan Street

What: Information session on boat ramp relocation for boat ramp users
When: Sunday 17 April, 6am - 10am
Where: Port Douglas Boat Ramp

What: Information session on all Master Plan projects for the general community
When: Tuesday 19 April, 2pm - 6pm
Where: Port Douglas Master Plan Shopfront, Saltwater Building, Macrossan Street

Home page photo by Katie Cann - Deviant Art