On the mend but rentals in ‘cri­sis’

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Dane Lilling­stone dane.lilling­stone@ whit­sun­day­times.com.au

RENTAL ac­com­mo­da­tion for some Whit­sun­day work­ers is a big prob­lem af­ter Cy­clone Debbie.

That’s the opin­ion of lo­cal busi­ness owner Kevin Collins, who said it had reached “cri­sis” point.

Mr Collins asked Whit­sun­day Mayor An­drew Will­cox at a re­cent Whit­sun­day Coast Cham­ber of Com­merce break­fast about how the re­gion could ac­com­mo­date a huge in­flux of work­ers.

“There are still two ma­jor con­struc­tion work crews to come to town,” he said.

“Al­ready (we’re in) al­most a cri­sis in avail­able rental ac­com­mo­da­tion for hos­pi­tal­ity staff.

“There were 400 prop­er­ties on Airbnb. A week be­fore the cy­clone there was 400, now there’s around 270.

“The work crews are com­ing to work be­fore the end of year... They will need some­where to stay.”

Mr Collins said his hos­pi­tal­ity staff had strug­gled to lock down per­ma­nent ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Cr Will­cox said they had “ear­marked” sites but it was a bal­anc­ing act and they would be happy to talk to any in­com­ing crews to work some­thing out.

The mayor spoke at the break­fast to give an up­date on how the re­gion was re­cov­er­ing post-Cy­clone Debbie.

He said the coun­cil had been “ham­strung” over the in­sur­ance process and hoped to use any fu­ture fund­ing to not only fix up Shute Har­bour and the Air­lie Beach fore­shore but also for bet­ter­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“The en­vi­ron­men­tal restora­tion that we need for our area is huge,” he said while speak­ing on the tasks of clean­ing up green waste and ero­sion.

“We’ve also still got aban­doned boats from Shute Har­bour to Bowen.

“We still have is­sues and still have a lot of work to do.”

Busi­ness own­ers in par­tic­u­lar wanted to know what was hap­pen­ing with the Air­lie Beach la­goon.

Cr Will­cox said they were hop­ing to com­plete re­pairs by the end of Au­gust.

The mayor also men­tioned State and Fed­eral gov­ern­ment pro­cesses in ac­cess­ing money, declar­ing: “Give us the money and we’ll do it.”

PHOTO: DANE LILLING­STONE

LOOK­ING FORWARD: Keith Fork­nall of Re­gional In­sur­ance Bro­kers, Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Al­lan Milostic and Mayor An­drew Will­cox.

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