Paws fight steps up
THE shock preliminary decision by the state government to deny Douglas Shire Council land intended as the future home of Paws and Claws has been met with outrage throughout the community.
Paws and Claws President and DSC councillor Michael Kerr has organised a street march on Saturday in Port Douglas to “assist people in venting their anger” towards the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, which controls the land.
“There’s pretty much an uproar over it,” said Mr Kerr.
“People are horrified by it we’ve been copied into dozens of emails sent to the Minister (Dr Anthony Lynham).”
Mr Kerr argued the Yule Point block was the perfect location for Paws and Claws to make its permanent home. “It’s an ideal spit for it - close to town, but far enough away to not be an issue.”
Previous proposed locations have been ruled out for a wide range of reasons, including transport safety, noise and general community opposition. “All the (previous blocks) we’ve gone through we’ve had to cut out for one reason or another.”
The reasons given by the department to deny the Yule Point location, according to Mr Kerr, don’t hold up, especially the environmental aspect.
“I spoke to one resident nearby that has lived there for 20 years who said she’d never seen a cassowary there ever.”
The street march and protest on Saturday will start at 9am at the beach end of Macrossan Steet and go through to Anzac park.
“We want to draw attention to what’s happening,” said Mr Kerr.
“I strongly believe there are a lot of people that want to get involved.”
Mayor Julia Leu has also gone on the warpath, declaring that she’s requested a meeting with the heads of the department during her next visit to Brisbane.
Cr Leu also said Douglas Shire Council had requested copies of the advice that triggered the decision by the department.
Because the refusal by the department is preliminary, it can still be overturned.
Mr Kerr said that without a new home, it could be the end of the road for Paws and Claws. “We’re in limbo. “If we don’t get this block of land ... inevitably we’ll have to close down. We may have to start the process of packing up.”
Work on securing Yule Point had come so far that Paws and Claws even had preliminary plans drawn up, and much of the infrastructure research had already been done in order to streamline construction when the expected approval came through.
For now, Paws and Claws will remain in limbo as a foster service.
“We will continue operating as we have been until we get a formal response from the council that the state government have said no.”