Pe­ti­tion tar­gets pub­lic land use

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

THE de­bate over the com­mer­cial use of pub­lic land in the Whit­sun­days has heated up with a pe­ti­tion started by Air­lie Beach busi­ness own­ers con­cerned over po­ten­tial changes.

The Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil de­vel­oped a draft pol­icy for the com­mer­cial use of coun­cil re­serves and the man­age­ment plan was re­leased for pub­lic com­ment on Septem­ber 4.

The pe­riod for pub­lic com­ment was ex­tended un­til Oc­to­ber 18 and coun­cil re­ceived about 20 sub­mis­sions which were a mix­ture of those for and against the trial.

A pe­ti­tion against the pro­posed changes set up by Ra Nat­u­ral Health owner Diane Ast­bury has more than 50 sig­na­tures and she said they all ob­jected to a trial of th­ese changes.

“We do not be­lieve there has been suf­fi­cient con­sul­ta­tion and most im­por­tantly the ma­jor­ity of res­i­dents and busi­nesses don’t even know th­ese changes are on the ta­ble,” she said.

“There are al­ready flea mar­kets set up through­out the Whit­sun­days and we ob­ject to coun­cil chang­ing the law and cre­at­ing ex­tra com­mer­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties to the detri­ment of ex­ist­ing rate-pay­ing own­ers and busi­ness op­er­a­tors in the Whit­sun­days.”

Five rep­re­sen­ta­tives from lo­cal busi­nesses at­tended a meet­ing or­gan­ised by Ms Ast­bury on Mon­day. They voiced their con­cerns to Air­lie Beach Cham­ber of Com­merce rep­re­sen­ta­tive Philip Larsson.

The cham­ber put out a state­ment this week which stated they un­der­stood the Coun­cil had sought to en­gage the com­mu­nity to ob­tain in­put to as­sist them in draft­ing a pol­icy and stated clearly that the in­ter­ests of their mem­bers con­duct­ing busi­nesses in the main street and tourist precincts of Air­lie Beach should be con­sid­ered and safe­guarded.

“We stated that we would not sup­port any form of tout­ing, so­lic­it­ing or op­er­a­tion that would ad­versely af­fect the amenity of the ar­eas con­cerned,” the state­ment said.

“But visi­ta­tion to the Air­lie Beach area has fallen sig­nif­i­cantly in re­cent years and we need to take ac­tion to re­verse this po­si­tion for the sake of all of our busi­nesses and the area in gen­eral.

We need to work to­gether to cre­ate at­mos­phere, to cre­ate en­ergy, to cre­ate con­nect­ed­ness with the visi­tors, to dif­fer­en­ti­ate Air­lie Beach from other des­ti­na­tions and to cre­ate a more pos­i­tive en­gag­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

To sign the pe­ti­tion online visit www.gope­ti­tion.com/pe­ti­tions/ob­ject-to-whit­sun­day-re­gional-coun­cil-changes-to-laws-com­mer­cialuse-of-pub­lic-land-and-re­servesin-the-whit­sun­days.html or sign it in per­son at Ra Nat­u­ral Health in Air­lie Beach.

Coun­cil will pre­pare a re­port on the is­sue which is ex­pected to be dis­cussed in an open coun­cil meet­ing be­fore the end of the year.

PUB­LIC SPACE PE­TI­TION: Chris O'Reilly (Whit­sun­day Seafood Bar), Fer­ence Sfakianakis and Diane Ast­bury (Ra Nat­u­ral Health) and Gabby Ed­wards (Reef God­dess) with their pe­ti­tion against the coun­cil's pro­posed changed to the com­mer­cial use of pub­lic land.

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