Res­i­dents are mad as hell

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -


“We are mad as hell about the Coun­cil de­lay in telling the com­mu­nity about the clo­sure and the lack of con­sul­ta­tion lead­ing up to Coun­cil’s al­ter­na­tive ar­range­ments be­ing an­nounced. The meet­ing em­phat­i­cally sup­ported the need for a re­place­ment ve­hi­cle ferry, and we will not take ‘No’ for an an­swer,” said Di­wan res­i­dent Jeremy Blockey.

“Coun­cil seem to be lis­ten­ing now, but are still adamant that they have done noth­ing wrong. With the di­a­logue our com­mu­nity has started with Coun­cil, and some po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence, we are hope­ful of a sat­is­fac­tory out­come,” Mr Blockey said.

Coun­cil has ar­ranged for a ves­sel to en­able fruit grow­ers such as Mr Blockey to main­tain their sup­ply chain.

Re­gard­ing a sub­sti­tute for the ferry it­self, Mayor Ju­lia Leu told the that “Coun­cil in­ves­ti­gated the fea­si­bil­ity of em­ploy­ing a ve­hi­cle barge be­fore the Fe­bru­ary 1 pub­lic no­ti­fi­ca­tion date.

“This was deemed im­prac­ti­cal due to the pro­jected costs to ratepay­ers and avail­abil­ity.”

A pro­posal by res­i­dents for a Sea Swift barge had been dis­counted by DSC as a solution.

“The pro­posed Sea Swift barge is not prac­ti­cal due to its size, the depth of the Dain­tree River and it is also not avail­able for the clo­sure dates,” the mayor said.

The manda­tory clo­sure dates are not flex­i­ble due to an ex­treme high tide that will help dry dock the ferry.

“The pro­posed barge is 38 me­tres long and 9 me­tres wide. This is also too big for the ex­ist­ing boat ramps,” she said.

“The pro­posed barge also only has one point of en­try. Ve­hi­cles would have to re­verse off the barge and turn around when ex­it­ing, which is not suited to the car parks on ei­ther side of the river. This could be a safety haz­ard.

“The pro­posed barge also has a 2.14m draw, which means it re­quires wa­ters deeper than 2 me­tres to op­er­ate in.

“The Dain­tree River is too shal­low for this.

“The ex­ist­ing chan­nel that the ferry uses to cross the Dain­tree River can’t be used dur­ing the dry-dock­ing due to where the in­spec­tion will be tak­ing place,” Ms Leu said.

On the mat­ter of coun­cil pro­vid­ing a shut­tle bus ser­vice north of the river, DSC has said it is look­ing at ex­tend­ing to Cape Tribu­la­tion in­stead of ter­mi­nat­ing at Cow Bay.

“Res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers who may ben­e­fit from this ser­vice are in­vited to con­tact Gaye Scott so Coun­cil can as­sess de­mand,” Ms Leu said.

“It is vi­tal that Coun­cil is able to get an idea of how many peo­ple would need the ser­vice.”

Coun­cil has recorded all re­quests and feed­back in the past week and will con­sider these sug­ges­tions in the next three weeks.

“Coun­cil has worked ex­ten­sively since we were first no­ti­fied in De­cem­ber 2017. This has in­volved plan­ning lo­gis­tics - over and above the ferry con­tract re­quire­ments - to al­le­vi­ate the in­con­ve­nience of this manda­tory in­spec­tion.

“This has in­cluded or­gan­is­ing FREE shut­tle buses, traf­fic man­age­ment plans and se­cu­rity for parked ve­hi­cles.

“We un­der­stand the in­con­ve­nience the manda­tory clo­sure will cause, how­ever, this is some­thing that is out of Coun­cil’s con­trol, Ms Leu said.

GThere was plenty of ac­ri­mon still among res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers north of the river over the clo­sure.

“What was Coun­cil think­ing when they dreamed up this scheme?” busi­ness owner Lawrence Ma­son asked. “It is to­tally un­work­able and paral­y­ses the com­mu­nity.”

Another busi­ness owner and res­i­dent, Vicki Bid­well, said, “Coun­cil ob­vi­ously had no se­ri­ous in­tent in as­sist­ing the com­mu­nity and were happy to let us pick up the pieces. It has been a night­mare for our busi­ness mak­ing can­cel­la­tions and it will mean staff are put off when hours are al­ready cut in the low sea­son.”

A spokesper­son for Jun­gle Surf­ing Canopy Tours at Cape Tribu­la­tion said: “The clo­sure of the Ferry will put a sig­nif­i­cant strain on busi­nesses and the com­mu­nity, who work hard to keep the Dain­tree an all year round and world-class des­ti­na­tion.

“While we un­der­stand main­te­nance works are es­sen­tial, the lack of fore­thought, plan­ning and con­sul­ta­tion is stag­ger­ing.

“We can­not ac­cept that four weeks is suf­fi­cient or rea­son­able no­tice in an in­dus­try where plans are made months and years in ad­vance.

“The rep­u­ta­tion of our busi­ness and the en­tire Dain­tree re­gion is se­verely dam­aged when our clients booked over this pe­riod must be can­celled sim­ply be­cause there is in­ef­fec­tive plan­ning in place.”

Jeremy Blockey of Cape Trib Farm

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