Minister signs on the dotted line for ramp
WHITSUNDAY fisherman Bob Spees will never forget the day a five-year-old girl could have died on the Whisper Bay boat ramp in Cannonvale.
"And that's what this whole thing's been about - making it safe for everybody," he said of his five-year fight to upgrade the ramp, which is exposed in northerly winds.
While Mr Spees couldn't attend yesterday's symbolic signing over of the $3 million upgrade cost by State Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports Mark Bailey, he was very much there in spirit.
"The main issue has always been the safety of mums, kids and holiday people," he said.
"I want to thank the State Government for what they've done in coming up with the money they promised prior to the election.
"And I want to thank council for all the work they've put into it - they've all delivered on their promises in the end."
Among those who attended the formalities on site yesterday morning was councillor John Atkinson, who fought for the upgrade alongside Mr Spees.
"It's a great day considering it's taken four or five years to get this far," Cr Atkinson said.
"I'm thrilled at the fact it's finally ready to start."
Cr Atkinson said the boat ramp, with its extensive parking lot, was presently underutilised when strong north-westerlies were blowing and he was looking forward to seeing that change.
After an initial stumble, confusing Pioneer Bay with Shute Harbour, minister Mark Bailey said the boat ramp was expected to be finished by December, weather permitting, which would be a "great Christmas present for local boaties".
"Early work is starting today, this week," he said.
The State Government made an election funding commitment to upgrade the Cannonvale boat ramp and Mr Bailey said Labor was delivering on it.
The upgrade contracts have been awarded to a Bowen company and a Queensland company, which Mr Bailey said showed Labor's commitment to local jobs.
Mr Bailey said he was "absolutely" happy to be able to deliver something the former LNP government had been unable to do during its term in office.