Council votes for consultation

The wave of opposition for Council's decision to purchase Mt Marlow land for a future sports park was heard yesterday with Council deciding to open up the process to public consultation.
The wave of opposition for Council's decision to purchase Mt Marlow land for a future sports park was heard yesterday with Council deciding to open up the process to public consultation.

THE rising wave of public opposition to the proposed purchase of Havengrand for a future sports park was heard by Council yesterday.

In a vote of just 3-2, Whitsunday Regional Councillors voted in favour of community consultation.

About 60 members of the Whitsunday community sat in the public gallery at yesterday’s Council meeting, holding placards in opposition to the purchase of the 95 hectare Mount Marlow land.

Of those that were there to voice their concern with Council’s decision to enter into negotiations with Havengrand for the land purchase, four asked questions.

President of the Whitsunday Raiders Rugby Union Club Kon Flaherty called into question Council’s use of the Open Space and Recreation Strategy as their sole reference point in deciding to purchase Havengrand, labelling it "a dinosaur".

"Gone are the heady times of 2001 to 2005 when the region saw massive growth across all areas with the promise of unlimited opportunities on the horizon," Mr Flaherty told Council.

"Surely with the change in climate from 2005 to the current situation in 2010, it begs the question, why are we not looking at the forecasts put into place and going back to sporting groups for more consultation?"

In a passionate and sometimes spiteful question time, Council listened to questions from Peter Chengody, Jo Pillifeant, Barb Adamson and Stuart Bell as well as Mr Flaherty before the issue was raised by Cr Jan Clifford in general business.

By that time the majority of the anti-Havengrand campaigners had left the meeting but one who remained, Faye Chapman, shouted "democracy at last" when Cr Clifford’s motion was passed.

The motion was that "as part of the negotiations for the purchase of land from Havengrand that a full and open public consultation process on current and future needs, in respect to sport and recreation of the communities of Airlie Beach, Cannonvale and Proserpine and environs is conducted and concluded".

Those who were hoping for a decision to slow Council’s purchase of Havengrand could perhaps think themselves lucky that Cr Dave Clark did not attend yesterday’s meeting.

He has been one of the Councillors to consistently vote with the Deputy Mayor Cr Rogin Taylor and Cr Peter Ramage on this issue.

The meeting was chaired by Cr Taylor as Mayor Mike Brunker was absent. Voting in favour of the community consultation were Cr Jennifer Whitney and Cr Mark Gaudry.

Council CEO John Finlay was not willing to indicate how the public consultation would be facilitated but did say that the objective would be to "make sure all different views are captured".

"We’ll try to get the ball rolling by the end of May or early June," Mr Finlay said.

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