Daintree River bridge a possibility

COUNCIL MEETING: MAYORAL MINUTES

Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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The future of the Daintree Ferry is one of the items on the Mayoral Minutes at tomorrow's Council meeting. Image: Newsport.
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Newly-elected Mayor Michael Kerr has burst out of the starting blocks by introducing and focusing on a number of controversial issues through Mayoral Minutes in the first meeting he chairs tomorrow (10am). The meeting will be live-streamed on Council’s Facebook Page.

Top of his list is the Daintree Ferry, and its immediate future which includes the consideration of building a bridge across the river; the privately owned pool located next to the Oaks Resort, formally the QT Resort located on Port Douglas Road; the Daintree Micro Grid in the Daintree; and expenses incurred by Mossman RSL in the amount of $1,734 to repair a water leak.

The Daintree Ferry crossing is the most controversial of the aforementioned and it’s being proposed that Council:

  • Temporarily suspend contract negotiations for contract 2019 – 084 Daintree Ferry Contract 2021 while it:
  • Explore the option of a bridge crossing at various locations and the possible economic benefits to the region;
  • Conduct further community consultation including the bridge option and details of the costs of the two ferry solution provided for in the currently negotiated contract; and
  • Bring the results of the community consultation back to an Ordinary Council Meeting for further discussion and resolution.

The Mayoral Minutes will show that following an Ordinary Council Meeting of 3 December 2019, Council resolved to enter into contract 2019 – 084 Daintree Ferry Contract 2021 with Sirron Enterprises (QLD) Pty Ltd and to delegate authority to the Chief Executive Officer to negotiate, finalise and execute any and all matters associated with the contract.

However, at the commencement of the caretaker period for the local government elections, Council officers were still negotiating details of the contract. Due to the nature of the contract and the rules that prevail during caretaker period, and because the contract was not yet finalised, the CEO did not sign it.

Prior to the tender and the contract currently under negotiation, a community engagement process was conducted by a Council officer. During the engagement process, the CEO highlighted four options:

  • Remain with the current single ferry
  • Expand the capacity of a single ferry
  • Implement a two-ferry solution
  • Build a bridge

The Minutes will show that while it is possible that the two-ferry solution remains the most effective overall means for crossing the Daintree River, it is reasonable to pause the current negotiations so that all options including a bridge can be properly assessed. Further, the community needs to be able to have a say based on all options.

Council will also be asked to support the Federal Government’s Daintree micro grid project and the need for reliable and clean energy for residents and businesses north of the Daintree River.

“There is currently no mains power grid north of the Daintree River to Cape Tribulation with the exception of a few locations directly across from Daintree Village. Businesses and residents are responsible for their own energy needs and many use outdated, unreliable and polluting diesel generators.

“The Federal Government is currently developing a plan for the installation of advanced microgrid technology that will use a combination of solar power and hydrogen technology to provide clean and reliable energy. Connections to the system will be voluntary,” according to the Minutes.

It adds: “Regardless of the outcome, Council officers will support the study through the provision of information and access to Council property and infrastructure. This is an obligation of Council irrespective of the differing views of the study. However, by passing this Mayoral Minute, Council will send an important signal to its ratepayers and to the market in terms of the support for the outcomes of the project.”

The third issue in the Mayoral Minutes is the Port Douglas Pool and Council will vote on whether to request the Chief Executive Officer to allocate in the Community Development 2019-20 Budget $5,000 to investigate if the privately owned pool located next to the Oaks Resort in Port Douglas is a feasible option for Council to purchase.

In 2019 the owners closed the pool for public and commercial use. The pool is popular with the public and preferred by commercial operators due to location of the pool of being in Port Douglas and lane hire options.
In February 2019 more than 100 community members signed a petition to advocate for Council to purchase the pool but not formally pursued by Council at the time.

In the final Mayoral Minute, Council will be asked to make amendments to the Mossman RSL water bill.
According to the Minutes, Mossman RSL has incurred expenses in the amount of $1,734 to repair a water leak and is requesting that Council consider its currently due water bill to be an amount equal to its previous account.

It is proposed that Council note the contribution the Mossman RSL makes to the community through supporting returned services personnel, and grant the request and instruct Council officers to make the appropriate amendments to the water bill.

AGENDA


Tuesday, 28 April 2020, 10am

The meeting will be live-streamed on Council’s Facebook Page.

3.1 Mayoral Minutes
5.1 Request for Minor Change to Development Approval 2639.2008
5.2 Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) 2020-21 – Funds For Grant Program
5.3 Do It In Douglas Campaign – Budget Request
5.4 Monthly Financial Report March 2020
5.5 Covid-19 Relief Measures Year End 30 June 2020
5.6 Determination As To Whether Elected Members Will Be Subject To PAYG Withholding Tax
9.1 Closed Session Announcement & Table of Contents

View the full Mayoral Minutes here.


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