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    News from Council Ordinary meeting

    Plans to fast-track Mount Peter water reservoir

    Council has applied for a $15 million interest-free loan to bring forward construction of water infrastructure to service new lots in Mount Peter.

    Construction of a water reservoir for Mount Peter was planned to start in the 2023-24 financial year, however based on a surge in demand for residential land in the area, Council could start construction within the next 12 months.

    The project includes construction of an 8 megalitre water reservoir, installation of trunk water lines, a pumping station and chlorination building. The infrastructure will service 446 lots that currently lie outside Council’s Priority Infrastructure Area.

    Council has applied for a $15 million interest-free loan though the Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation’s Building Acceleration Fund 2020 (BAF2020), an initiative under the Queensland Government’s Economic Recovery Strategy, Unite and Recover for Queensland Jobs.

    The project is estimated to cost $18.2 million, with Council required to fund the initial $3.2 million of costs before drawing down on the loan, which has a 15-year repayment period.

    This water infrastructure will support additional long-term development and population growth in the Mount Peter Master Planned Area.

     

    Esplanade Dining Precinct revamp is on budget

    Council is expected to deliver its revamped and rejuvenated Esplanade Dining Precinct on budget.

    A report tabled at Council today stated that detailed design has now reached 60 per cent completion, with a cost estimate of $28 million to complete the entire project, including the Dining Precinct stages and Shields St between Abbott St and the Esplanade.

    In May, Council endorsed fast-tracking the project, with detailed design and renewal of the footpath starting in July, while the detailed design for the complete project was developed.

    In order to facilitate an accelerated program, Council has adopted a three-staged delivery of the Esplanade works.

    Stage one, which involved construction of the 3.4-metre footpath, has now been completed.

    Work is progressing concurrently on stages two and three – the second stage involves the laying of outdoor dining pavement and installation of awnings (to be completed April 2021), while state 3 includes construction of the road and landscaping, with an expected finished of April 2021.

    The Shields St works are also expected to be completed April 2021.

    Council also endorsed the establishment of the Esplanade Dining Precinct Advisory Committee, which includes the Mayor, Deputy Mayor Terry James, Division 5 Councillor Amy Eden and CEO John Andrejic, to assist the project meeting the new timeframes.

    Two 3D fly-throughs of the Esplanade Dining Precinct can be viewed on Council website at 
    https://www.cairns.qld.gov.au/council/major-projects/esplanade-dining-precinct

     

    Report reviews an ‘extraordinary year’  

    The financial impact of COVID-19 has resulted in Council finishing the 2019-20 financial year with a $1.6 million operating deficit.

    Council’s Annual Report, adopted at today’s Ordinary Meeting, described 2019-20 as “an extraordinary year for Council as well as the general community” because of the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Council continued to invest heavily in community infrastructure by delivering a $165.5 million capital works program in the 2019-20 financial year.

    This included more than $50 million in transport and mobility projects, $54 million on water and waste infrastructure, and $13 million on improving parks and leisure facilities throughout the city.

    Council also provided more than $7.8 million through numerous grant steams, including $3.4 million to support Tourism Tropical North Queensland, almost $1.4 million in rates-based assistance for not-for-profit groups and sponsorships, and $797,000 for events.

    The report noted that the full impacts of COVID-19 on Council are still unknown.

    However, Council has adopted a three-year recovery plan that looks to balance the need for maintaining essential service levels, the delivery of the capital works program, providing economic stimulus and keeping rates affordable.

    Additionally, Council has developed a Financial Hardship Policy which provides extended repayment plans and interest waivers for ratepayers adversely affected by COVID-19.

    The Annual Report highlights the many programs that were delivered throughout the year, in line with Council’s strategic goals, which relate to Economy, Natural Assets, Liveability, Community and Culture, and Serving the Community.

    The 2019-20 Annual Report can be viewed in full on Council’s website.

     

    Call for action on lack of public transport for southern corridor 

    Cairns Regional Council is once again calling on the State Government to address the lack of public transport for communities in its southern corridor.

    Division 1 Councillor Brett Moller raised the matter in general business at today’s Ordinary Meeting, with Council endorsing his motion to write to Minister Mark Baily and the Department of Transport and Main Roads to address this pressing issue.

    “We are asking that the State Government invest in viable and practical public transport for communities from Gordonvale to Babinda in the southern corridor of the Cairns Regional Council,” Cr Moller said.

    “Notably, during our previous Our Cairns Survey conducted in 2016, the lack of public transport was highlighted as a significant issue for those communities south of Gordonvale, particularly in Babinda.”

    Council previously raised this matter with the State Government in February 2019, highlighting access to public transport was particularly important for communities that experience a higher rate of disadvantage, it would increase employment and education opportunities, and is vital for economic development.

    “To date, the State Government has not advanced any planning for public transport being extended to Babinda,” Cr Moller said.

    “The Babinda community remains disadvantaged and vulnerable in not being afforded the economic and social opportunities that other communities in our region have and this cannot be allowed to continue.”

     

    Financial boost allows show to go on

    Cairns Little Theatre’s production of Comedy After Covid has received a timely financial boost.

    Council has approved funding of $2695 through its Community, Events, Activities and Projects Grant to assist with delivering the production at the Rondo Theatre next month.

    Under current restrictions, the Rondo has a capacity of just 30 people. The funding will assist Cairns Little Theatre to deliver the performances to an audience of 85 people by expanding the footprint of the Rondo to include the adjacent Jess Mitchel Park.

      

    Delegates appointed for 2020 LGAQ Annual Conference

    Deputy Mayor Terry James and Cr Brett Moller have been endorsed as Council delegates for the 2020 LGAQ Annual Conference, to be held on the Gold Coast from 19-21 October.

    Council has also submitted a nomination to host the LGAQ Annual Conference at the newly refurbished Cairns Convention Centre in 2022 or 2023.

    Cairns last hosted the conference in 2019.

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