The Wilson Beach swimming enclosure damaged by Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
The Wilson Beach swimming enclosure damaged by Tropical Cyclone Debbie. Georgia Simpson

New Wilson Beach enclosure on the cards

WHITSUNDAY Regional Council will investigate the possibility of a new swimming enclosure at Wilson Beach.

The enclosure's future had been a contentious issue since it was severely damaged in Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

Despite an earlier motion backing the removal of the long-time swimming structure, council on Wednesday passed a motion 6-1 to seek quotations for an engineered design of a new enclosure, which could allow people to swim safely.

Council also agreed to properly insure the enclosure from damage in the case of another severe weather event, however its ability to be safeguarded from crocodiles is still yet to be determined.

Deputy Mayor John Collins put forth the recommendation requesting council seek funding from the State and Federal governments for construction costs.

He said prior to its damage during TC Debbie, the enclosure had been part of the Whitsundays community for more than 50 years.

"Since (Tropical) Cyclone Debbie there has been substantial development in the larger communities, yet as one of the hardest areas hit they are no longer able to use a facility they grew up with," he said.

"It's a vital bit of infrastructure that's part of their lives."

Cr Collins begged the question of why Wilson Beach residents, who are based 25km from the nearest swimming pool, also justified its installation.

Cr Mike Brunker, who voted against the motion, expressed doubt that any enclosure without a gate could be 100 per cent safe from crocodiles.

He said an enclosure with an open front could still be accessed by the reptiles during high tide.

Cr Brunker referenced a report that stated the enclosure is located near the mouth of the Proserpine River, regarded as one of the most highly-populated crocodile areas in Queensland.

Cr Collins acknowledged the merit of the report, but said there wasn't any evidence to suggest that had not always been the case.

He added there had been no incidents of crocodile attacks in the area to date.

"We can say exactly the same thing about sharks," Cr Brunker said.

"We didn't have a shark attack for 50 years but then we had three in a year."

Cr Brunker added that he would like to be in the room when the design for the new enclosure presented.

Following a quick Google search during Wednesday's meeting, he said the only enclosures he could see were one designed to keep "crocs in."

Mayor Andrew Willcox, who has opposed the idea in recent times, explained his reservations had stemmed from the reported numbers of crocodiles in the area.

However he said he would support the recommendation so long as safety could be ensured.

"If a crocodile proof enclosure can happen, I don't want to deny the people of Wilson Beach an opportunity to swim," he said.

The decision comes just 10 days after a group of concerned residents joined Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan to protest council's earlier decision.


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