Funding denied for waterfront

Thursday 12 January 2012

Funding denied for waterfront

Cairns Regional Council Mayor Val Schier says she should not be held responsible for a decision by the Regional Development Australia Fund's Far North committee to deny the Port Douglas waterfront the resources it needs to progress.

With a local government election set for 31 March, the timing of the decision couldn't be worse for Cr Schier, but she says Council remains committed to the project.

"Council is committed to building the lagoon so that (the decision) just means that we look at other sources of funding.

"We already know that the State Government has said that it will allocate funding and obviously Council needs to look at its own budget as well.

"I don't have any magic wands, I've made a commitment to building the lagoon and I've been absolutely strong about that.

"It's beyond my control that Regional Development Australia has given other (projects) priority in the region. Let's not make me responsible for something that's completely outside of my control."

Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree executive officer, Doug Ryan, said that upcoming elections would create other opportunities for funding.

"It's disappointing that we didn't get the grant but I think that's only one small step in the process and certainly shouldn't hold up the development.

"I think there's other funding avenues that Council will be pursuing heavily and with elections coming up one would think that there would be some promises out there from State and Federal Governments to support it."

He said that the waterfront project was, and is, expected to bring economic benefits, particularly to the retail industry.

"All the research that went into the value of the waterfront development is showing there is economic benefit for the town. We know that the retail sector, certain areas, are struggling and we need to drive traffic through that retail centre.

"That is one of the big benefits of having the lagoon there."

The projects that have secured funding include the rebuild of a tourist information centre in Mareeba, a Hann Highway upgrade in the Etheridge Shire, and coastal protection works in Torres Strait. 

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