Mayor pre­dicts strong growth

Townsville Bulletin - - North Queensland: Looking Back, Looking Forward - By RACHELLE CHAP­MAN

TOWNSVILLE Mayor Tony Mooney has fore­cast 2007 to kick­start a ‘golden era’ of de­vel­op­ment in the city.

‘‘It is go­ing to be an ex­cit­ingyear,’’ he said.

The $23 mil­lion upg r a d e o f Mur r a y Sports Sta­dium, the $8m CBD arts hub, and the So­lar Cities pro­gram will be high­lights, ac­cord­ing to the mayor.

But he said bal­anc­ingde­vel­op­ment with Townsville’s lifestyle was a pri­or­ity.

Green­ing­prog rams and im­prov­ingthe city im­age were about en­hanc­ingthe lo­cal lifestyle, and Cr Mooney said th­ese pro­grams would con­tinue to be a pri­or­ity.

‘There’s a big­pres­sure on the coun­cil to look at how we bal­ance all the pres­sure for de­vel­op­ment against com­mu­nity lifestyle and I’ll be do­ing­more work on that with the lo­cal com­mu­nity dur­ing the year,’’ he said.

‘‘(Townsville peo­ple) love the lifestyle and the laid-back way of life and we’ve got to be care­ful, we’ve got to bal­ance all this dy­namic de­vel­op­ment.

‘‘There is go­ing to be more de- vel­op­ment. I just urge the com­mu­nity to be pa­tient, as we are go­ing on a ma­jor jour­ney of trans­form­ingTownsville,.’’

Vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture that would seal the city’s fu­ture still needed to be se­cured, the Mayor said.

‘‘One of them is the port ac­cess road, and the other one is a base load power sta­tion for Townsville and I see those is­sues as very im­por­tant to fi­nalise and get im­ple­mented in the next three to five years,’’ Cr Mooney said.

‘‘They’re like the build­ing­blocks of our econ­omy — with­out those we can’t achieve that new golden era . . . with­out those we are still go­ing to do well, but we are not go­ing to do as well, as what we should do.’’

Cr Mooney con­firmed the coun­cil was look­ing­down the bar­rel of cost blowouts. ‘‘There are some de­lays and cost blowouts that we are now start­ingto have to con­front,’’ he said.

Coun­cils and the pub­lic sec­tor were facinga con­struc­tion price in­crease in­dex of about 1.8 per cent ev­ery month.

‘‘That’s more than 15 to 20 per cent a year and that’s a big­in­crease,’’ Cr Mooney said.

‘‘We’ve seen it on things like the Ross Dam con­struc­tion and our waste wa­ter up­grade.’’

But Cr Mooney said there was no talk of a rate rise yet.

‘‘We’re try­ingto keep a very tight rein on rates but it means some projects that we oth­er­wise would do may have to be de­ferred.

‘‘We’re cur­rently hav­ingto look at what projects we are go­ing to get com­pleted this year that we’ve al­ready ap­proved in our bud­get.

‘‘We’re on track to do well but we’re un­der pres­sure, there’s no doubt about that.’’

A ma­jor arts and cul­tural fes­ti­val would make an in­au­gu­ral ap­pear­ance in the 2007 win­ter so­cial line-up, a c c o r d i n g t o C r Mooney.

He said the coun­cil would also work hard t o g e t t h e Ro c k y Springs de­vel­op­ment — which can house up to 50,000 peo­ple — off the ground in 2007.

‘‘It gives peo­ple greater choice,’’ Cr Mooney said.

‘‘The sale of land be­comes more com­pet­i­tive, which will make it more af­ford­able.’’

‘‘Rocky Springs is our fu­ture and we are push­ing­full steam ahead to get that on­line.’’

He said the coun­cil would forge for­ward with strate­gic wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture.

‘‘We’ve just started con­struc­tion in a ma­jor ex­pan­sion of the Cleve­land Bay waste­water plant — that’s a $100m project.

But Cr Mooney main­tained Townsville was not a boom town.

‘‘Let’s get rid of the boom town tag— I don’t like it,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t think it’s what Townsville is all about. We don’t want (Gold Coast style de­vel­op­ment).’’

PROUD . . . Mayor Tony Mooney says de­spite the city’s many big projects, bal­ance be­tween de­vel­op­ment and lifestyle is key

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