Port Douglas residents discuss the town's biggest issues
COUNCIL CORPORATE PLAN
AirBnbs, Four Mile Park, and disability access were some of the main issues raised at Council’s final corporate plan workshop this morning.
The meeting bought together councillors and the Council CEO, Mark Stoermer, with residents at Port Douglas Community Centre to discuss the results of the Council’s Corporate Plan Survey.
Common themes from the survey results show people in the Port Douglas and Mossman areas placed roads, economic development, and the environment at the top of the list of concerns.
As the discussion of these issues and more were opened to the floor, a clear picture of people’s priorities became apparent.
One of the main issues raised was houses and units in residential areas being used as AirBnBs causing disruptions to quiet neighbourhoods.
AirBnBs in residential areas were branded “full-on” and residents said they were “destroying their lives.”
Mr Stoermer said the law had failed to keep up with AirBnb and the issue came up a number of times in the survey responses.
One of the ideas floated to mitigate the practice was to raise all residential rates and provide a discount to those whose premises are a primary residence.
Parks and gardens were other topics of discussion with many of the parks in Port Douglas labelled “wastelands” and “just paddocks” by one resident.
Four Mile Park, in particular, was singled out as a piece of community infrastructure sorely needing attention to maintenance and upgrades with one attendee calling the park “disgusting.”
Residents made it clear they wanted to see more maintenance carried out at the park and said the current works seem to be carried out “ad-hoc.”
As the discussion turned to economic development, it was generally agreed that Council could not directly provide this development but has a responsibility to create an environment for businesses to flourish.
Councillor Michael Kerr said Council plays the role of facilitator of economic development in the region.
“It’s not for Council to create jobs but to create an environment for private entities to want to invest in,” he said.
“We can do that by investing in community infrastructure.”
One of the main areas of infrastructure was disability access and residents were adamant footpaths and walkways needed better maintenance, mainly for disability and ease of access.
A suggestion for Council to maintain an online list of ongoing road maintenance works was positively received.
Other projects such as the Mossman Botanic Gardens and the Wangetti Trail were touted as positive for the region as was the Council moving towards a zero-emissions future.
It was also suggested that Warner Street be converted to a one-way lane with footpaths on either side as a solution to the issues it faces without removing the rosewood trees.
While beautification and maintenance were at the forefront of the discussion, it was agreed upkeep must be carried out in ways that improved the town without impinging on the character of Port Douglas.
Following the meeting this morning, Mr Stoermer said all four meetings over the week were generally a positive experience.
“I am hearing really loud and clear the focus on maintenance and beautification of roads, footpaths, and parks and gardens, with the view to focus helping the other areas,” he said.
“This has been incredibly rewarding and I love doing this kind of engagement.
“It’s one thing to get data from the survey but to get an idea what to do next and hear directly from people in really valuable and I would love to think about doing this more.”
Douglas Shire Mayor, Julia Leu, said the response from the community to the survey and to meetings has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We are really thrilled to have had an amazing response to the survey and the postcards; we are expecting to hit 1000 responses which is an incredible amount of feedback,” she said.
“Across the meetings, we have had really good discussions about a whole range of issues and people have been able to debate various things.
“It’s a very important component of the planning process for our Corporate Plan moving forward.”
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