Mayor reassures residents
Forman reminds Chamber of Commerce it has role to play in Isis, Kolan development
BUNDABERG Regional Council mayor Mal Forman has moved to shut down suggestions the council is “Bundaberg-centric”.
After months of questions and comments from Isis and Kolan residents the Town & Country asked Cr Forman and Cr Ross Sommerfield what the council was doing to drive regional development.
Both councillors addressed discontent aired at last week’s Childers Chamber of Commerce meeting. Cr Forman was taken aback by suggestions Kolan residents felt they were “neglected” as the area “competes with Bundaberg City”.
“Without these regions we wouldn’t be as strong,” Cr Forman said.
“Please be assured we’re working hard.”
While the comments from Isis aren’t quite as dramatic there was still discontent among the region’s population about the lack of infrastructure. Chamber of Commerce president Ren Cini said the town needed “fresh infrastructure”, and cited high infrastructure rates as a reason why developers stayed away.
“We want to bring businesses and developers to town.”
Cr Forman said despite no “obvious signs of development through bricks and mortar” in Childers and Gin Gin council has taken action to “ensure future growth and sustainability” in the communities.
“Bundaberg was not immune to the economic downturn of recent years and likewise our regional centres also suffered through lack of investment and confidence,” he said.
“I believe that confidence has returned and will manifest itself in new infrastructure and job creation projects across the region.
“We rely on the Chambers and groups like Residents and Ratepayers associations to liaise with council regarding the wants and needs of their communities.”
Cr Sommerfield said seven development proposals took advantage of the council’s Bundaberg Open For Development initiative, which was launched in 2013.
BO4D provided development incentives to stimulate development activity, increase economic growth and employment in the great Bundaberg region.
“It is a widely held view by council and the region’s development industry that the BO4D initiative has been successful in stimulating development activity within the Bundaberg region over the past 18 months,” Cr Sommerfield said.
Although there are no “larger-scale development applications in Childers,” Cr Sommerfield said the council regularly fielded questions from developers.
“Council’s Development Assessment Team regularly fields questions from developers and landowners interested in undertaking development in Childers and the surrounding locality,” he said.
“A consistent theme to these inquiries is a development interest in undertaking rural or general industry activities in locations that can take advantage of the Bruce Hwy and the excellent supporting transport infrastructure it provides.”
Cr Forman put some of the responsibility back on community groups to help identify areas of need in Childers, Gin Gin and the surrounding areas.
“Council alone cannot drive development,” Cr Forman said.
“Communities have a role to play in assisting council identify what opportunities exist, what services are needed and then supporting council endeavours to progress these initiatives.
“As a council we remain committed to a unified region and working to ensure the best outcomes across the entire 6500sq km of the Bundaberg region.”
GROWTH: Bundaberg Mayor Mal Forman reassures Isis and Kolan residents council is doing all they can to drive growth in the regions.