A full-time coun­cil­lor com­mits to next term

Jan Clifford loves serv­ing com­mu­nity

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS - By Sharon Small­wood

JAN Clifford is not what you’d call a part-time coun­cil­lor.

By the time she’s trav­elled from one end of the Whit­sun­days to the other, sat on a host of com­mit­tees and read up on all the meet­ings and cour­ses to at­tend, an av­er­age work­ing week might be up around 80 hours.

“But re­gard­less of all the crap, of all the nas­ti­ness (that can and has hap­pened), this is the best thing I have ever done,” she said.

“I love it – I love be­ing of ser­vice. I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant to be en­gaged with the com­mu­nity, to be part of dif­fer­ent groups and put some­thing back into this amaz­ing place we live in.”

This is why, af­ter al­ready serv­ing two terms as the coun­cil­lor for Divi­sion 1, Cr Clifford is putting up her hand for an­other run.

She’s the first to ad­mit the past four years haven’t been “a bed of roses”, with much of the cur­rent coun­cil con­tro­versy em­a­nat­ing from the divi­sion she rep­re­sents.

“We’ve got a lot go­ing on in my divi­sion,” she said.

“There’s some great things hap­pen­ing and we’re at a tip­ping point – we ei­ther go for­ward and we pros­per or we sit here and rot.”

Cr Clifford re­mem­bers all too well the days when the tourist hub of Air­lie Beach was a ghost town, re­cov­er­ing from the GFC – and she doesn’t want to see that again.

She fears for the fu­ture if there are no steps taken now to cre­ate new tourism prod­ucts, of­fer­ings and ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions.

“I don’t want to see sky­scrapers hov­er­ing over the la­goon like some­thing out of a comic book but with what’s cur­rently be­ing pro­posed at the four and five storeys, noth­ing changes,” she said.

“I’m not sug­gest­ing for one mo­ment we go to eight storeys in the main street – I think four and six, and four around Water­son Way on the road level, but maybe in a cou­ple of places at the back of Wan­der­ers and Woolies a lit­tle more height to give de­vel­op­ers a re­turn on their in­vest­ment would be good.”

“At the end of the day, I think there has to be some happy medium,” she said.

“There’s got to be a bit of give and take on both sides and that’s all I’m ask­ing. What do you want for your kids and your grand­kids?”

Of course the one par­tic­u­lar in­vestor cur­rently with an in­ter­est in land on Water­son Way is Peter ‘Ray­mond’ Wang, whose Chi­na­town pro­ject Cr Clifford wants to see go ahead.

“I be­lieve it’s an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity for Air­lie Beach and the Whit­sun­days and I will be re­ally quite dev­as­tated if it falls through be­cause I can see amaz­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for all the tradies that are cur­rently un­der-em­ployed,” she said.

Cr Clifford pointed to the re­cent VMR boat ramp upgrade, which kept a por­tion of the Whit­sun­day work­force em­ployed for a few months.

“That was a $3 mil­lion pro­ject and this is a $300 mil­lion pro­ject,” she said, adding in her opin­ion she was doubt­ful 15 storeys was ever in­tended and con­clud­ing “I look for­ward to see­ing a re­vised plan”.

As for the next four years in gen­eral, Cr Clifford says hav­ing been a part of the ad­min­is­tra­tion that had to make some tough de­ci­sions to dras­ti­cally re­duce Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil debt, she wants to be a part of the term that helps the com­mu­nity reap the re­wards.

“I’ve gone out and dug the veg­gie gar­den and now I’d like to eat the veg­gies,” she said.

COM­MIT­TED: Jan Clifford wants to con­tinue work­ing hard for the peo­ple of Air­lie Beach.

Photo: Sharon Small­wood

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