Council snubs Waterfront
Council officers have recommended three priority projects for federal funding - an indoor activities centre in Edmonton, upgrading the Marlin Coast wastewater plant at Smithfield, and a Cairns-wide cycle-path network.
However, it is unlikely council will push all three projects forward to take advantage of the first round of funding from the Regional Development Australia Fund.
“This is go to be a very competitive fund,” mayor Val Schier said.
“Across the country, there will be 565 councils competing for $100 million. The Waterfront is not ready for this round, but it will certainly go forward in a couple of months.
“If we put it up now, it’s almost guaranteed not to be supported.
“We don’t have detailed designs or a commitment from the State Government to support the project.
“The Edmonton centre, however, is ready to go.”
Local councillor Julia Leu said she was “very disappointed” council has decided it’s not in a position to apply for funding for the Waterfront at this stage.
“I think the Waterfront is a far more appealing project for the Commonwealth, and more likely to be successful than the other projects council has decided will be supported,” she said.
“Whilst some aspects need finetuning, I bet it is a far more comprehensive proposal at this stage than others that may be submitted.
“It certainly ticks all the boxes in terms of the regional significance and contributing to economic and community growth.
“There’s no guarantee this fund will still be around in 12 months’ time.”
State MP for Cook Jason O’Brien described council’s position as “bloody stupid”.
“I know the project isn’t 100 per cent ready to go, but you need to get your application in now,” he said.
However, even the local manager of the RDA Fund said the Port Douglas Waterfront was unlikely to win any friends in Canberra in the first round.
“It’s a big project, and so it will be a longer, harder haul in terms of budget outcomes,” acting chair of the local RDA committee Allan Dale said.
“There’s only $100 million available in this round of funding.
“In the bigger picture, there’s about $500 million available at the moment, with a further $500 million dependent on the passage of the resource rent tax.
Tourism Port Douglas Daintree executive officer Doug Ryan was sanguine about the development this week.
“I don’t think council has to rush this through,” said Mr Ryan, who has been pushing for a lagoon pool to be built as a priority.
“There are a range of issues that haven’t yet been resolved.
“However, there is a lot of work that could be started without touching the lagoon.
“I’m extremely disappointed the Waterfront precinct as a whole hasn’t been considered a council priority.”
Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce president Ken Dobbs also said he thought the Waterfront project was “the best plan council has to create prosperity for the region”.
“If council endorses these three projects, that will be three projects in the queue ahead of the Waterfront,” he said.