‘Common sense has to prevail’: Not giving up on Bowen estate
Residents filled the council chamber gallery and some had to be relocated to a separate room to watch a major decision unfold for the $1.1 billion Whitsunday Paradise development.
Bowen Chamber of Commerce chairman Bruce Hedditch managed to snag a front-row seat as the council voted not to cover $20 million in infrastructure costs for the project.
Mr Hedditch has been a strong advocate for the project as he says it holds "immense" importance for Bowen.
After the councillors discussed the issue of infrastructure costs and conducted their vote, Mr Hedditch said he understood the development should not be approved at the ratepayers' expense.
"I am still fully supportive of it, I think it is good for the area and it is going to be excellent for Bowen," Mr Hedditch said.
"The two parties are wanting it to happen and issues have gotten in the road that are preventing common sense from prevailing."
Mr Hedditch said he would liaise with the mayor and developers to try and find a way to move the project forward.
He said he was disappointed developers had warned the issue could proceed to court if an agreement was not forthcoming.
"I will be speaking to them to see if we can come up with a different approach," Mr Hedditch said.
"The developer has got to compromise, they have got to respect the Local Government Act and they have got to respect the council's policies.
"But at the same time the council has got to realise this is a major development.
"Bowen is struggling and so is the whole region struggling, I just think common sense has to prevail."
Mr Hedditch said the project was of great importance as it would help create jobs.
"I do not think we can negate any thoughts about jobs because it is going to be a very big issue in years to come," he said.
"As times change, young people are going to want jobs and we can't afford to lose people, leaving our particular area to find work somewhere else.
"We want people to come here."
The council approved the Whitsunday Paradise development in October last year with conditions.
After the councillors voted this week not to provide credits for the cost of water and sewer infrastructure, and decommissioning an existing treatment plant, GRW Group general manager Blake Thomas said the conditions made the Whitsunday Paradise development unfeasible if an agreement could not be reached.