Ap­pli­ca­tions down but con­fi­dence up

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - BETTINA WARBURTON

THE third marine killed when a US mil­i­tary air­craft went down in wa­ters off the cen­tral Queens­land coast has been iden­ti­fied as 19- year- old Ruben Ve­lasco from Cal­i­for­nia.

A GoFundMe page has been started by Mr Ve­lasco’s fam­ily to fund his fu­neral ar­range­ments.

His fa­ther Ray Calzada shared a trib­ute on Face­book say­ing the fam­ily was in dis­be­lief and couldn’t “fathom the loss of our son”.

“My heart is bro­ken for our fam­i­lies’ loss,” he wrote.

“Ruben is loved so very deeply and he will be missed by ev­ery­one who had the hon­our of know­ing him.”

Osprey crew chief Cor­po­ral Nathan Ord­way, 21, of Kansas, and Lieu­tenant Ben­jamin Robert Cross, 26, of Maine, have been iden­ti­fied as the other marines who were killed in the crash.

Head of ex­pe­di­tionary force Colonel Tye Wal­lace said the loss was felt across the en­tire Marine Corps fam­ily.

“To the fam­i­lies of the brave marines we lost – there is no way for us to un­der­stand what you are go­ing through,” said the colonel.

“What we do know is that your marines left a last­ing im­pres­sion on the 31st MEU, the Marine Corps, and the world. … You will al­ways be a part of the Marine Corps fam­ily, and will re­main in our prayers.”

One marine re­mains in a Bris­bane hos­pi­tal af­ter be­ing flown from Rock­hamp­ton af­ter the crash. TOWNSVILLE has recorded one of its low­est build­ing ap­pli­ca­tion ap­proval lev­els in a decade but city lead­ers are con­fi­dent this fi­nan­cial year will end the down­ward trend.

The lat­est build­ing ap­pli­ca­tion statis­tics from the Townsville City Coun­cil re­veal the to­tal value of new dwelling/ unit com­plex ap­pli­ca­tions ap­proved dur­ing the 2016- 17 fi­nan­cial year was $ 196 mil­lion.

This is the low­est num­ber recorded in years.

How­ever com­mu­nity lead­ers are tip­ping hous­ing projects such as mas­ter­planned com­mu­nity Haven Townsville and satel­lite city El­liot Springs will help ap­provals.

In 2015- 16 the to­tal value of new dwelling/ unit com­plex ap­pli­ca­tions ap­proved stood at $ 239.4 mil­lion, and the year be­fore that the fig­ure was $ 344.7 mil­lion, and in 2013- 14 there was $ 357.4 mil­lion and the year be­fore that the fig­ure was $ 353.3 mil­lion.

The coun­cil’s Plan­ning and Devel­op­ment Com­mit­tee chair, Cr Les Walker, said the re­gion had taken a hit from the min­ing down­turn but that de­vel­op­ments in ed­u­ca­tion, health, sport, the air­port and min­ing were build­ing growth and con­fi­dence.

“The down­ward trend on build­ing ap­provals is in­dica­tive of all re­gional ar­eas in the state,” he said. “The value to boost build­ing ( of build­ing ap­provals) has been trend­ing down as the min­ing sec­tor came off the boil, but things are turn­ing around. I ex­pect the fig­ures for this fi­nan­cial year will im­prove.”

Townsville builder and Master Builders board mem­ber Adrian Gabrielli said the build­ing in­dus­try had ex­pe­ri­enced a pretty tough few years.

“Con­fi­dence is slow­ing com­ing back. There are projects that are go­ing ahead from the sta­dium to the port to the so­lar farm to Sun Met­als.”

Mr Gabrielli said ma­jor projects un­der way this fi­nan­cial year would pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant flow- on ef­fects.

“Even though we’d like to fix this down­ward trend to­mor­row, what we need is a solid base that con­tin­ues,” he said. “The plat­form of the solid base has been build­ing for the past year or two, but from a low, low.

“It is re­cov­er­ing and the ma­jor projects hap­pen­ing now will give some back­bone to this.”

Master Builders North Queens­land re­gional man­ager Melissa Coul­ter said build­ing ap­provals had seen a re­prieve in the lat­ter stages of the 2016- 17 fi­nan­cial year.

“I see that we’re trad­ing out of the dip,” she said. “To­wards the end of the fi­nan­cial year ap­provals have started to in­crease.

“In April this year there were 60 ap­provals and in May, 108 build­ing ap­provals. That’s a sub­stan­tial in­crease. I see bet­ter times ahead.”

BRUSHING UP: Project Labour man­ager Frank Hukui works on a home at the mas­ter­planned com­mu­nity TownsvilleHaven. Pic­ture: FIONA HARDING

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