Council goes single-use plastic free, Daintree Ferry bus fee waived, plus more
It was another jam-packed Ordinary Council Meeting today, Tuesday 28 July at the Council chambers in Mossman. Here are some of the issues discussed.
Single-use plastic free policy
The Douglas Shire Council resolved to adopt a single-use plastic free policy.
Douglas Shire Mayor, Michael Kerr, said Council run events or events held on Council land, including the Sunday markets in Port Douglas, will have to follow the policy in an effort to reduce single-use plastics in our local environment.
“We will be pushing for people to make sure that they are doing the best practices they can in regards to single-use plastics,” he said.
“Apart from the obvious environmental benefits of reducing the amount of plastics which end up in our oceans, there’s a significant cost associated with cleaning up littered single-use items and ratepayers have to foot the bill.”
Single-use plastic items are defined as those which contain petroleum-based disposable plastic and polystyrene items designed to be used once and then discarded. These products include single-use plastic straws, stirrers, coffee cups and lids, sauce sachets, takeaway containers, cutlery, bowls and plates.
The new policy follows the success of the Plastic Free Douglas program which has successfully reduced the number of plastics in the environment through education and plastic reduction initiatives.
The single-use plastic free policy will be phased in over the next six months.
Mayor Kerr said Council will work with the community to assist with the transitioning to reusable and compostable options instead of using single-use plastic products.
“We did a survey in October 2019 at the Port Douglas markets and found several stall holders had already made a switch to compostable options, including paper straws and plates and wooden cutlery. Plastic bags were only rarely used,” he said.
Mayor Kerr said that there will be some cases where the policy is not appropriate due to COVID-19.
“In some cases because of health and safety reasons we have to use single-use plastics and there is a clause in the policy that allows for those things and Council staff will certainly work with operators to ensure the best outcome.”
Waiving the Daintree Ferry bus fee
The Council resolved to waive the Daintree Ferry fee for buses during the months of August and September 2020.
Mayor Kerr said waiving the fees is important to help businesses still struggling due to COVID-19.
“At the moment you've got big 12 or 15 seater buses with only four people on them,” he said.
“They're trying to get customers across to businesses in the Daintree, and it's really costing them a lot of money.
“So, for August and September, we're waiving the fee for the buses so those businesses can afford to take visitors across the river.”
A number of reports were also tabled at the meeting including the Water And Wastewater Quarterly Report, the Interim Financial Report for June and the CEO report for period April to June.
Mayor Kerr said the Interim Financial Report details the Council's ongoing finances.
“Unfortunately with COVID-19 and the discounts and initiatives we've offered, and loss of income, it's showing the predicted $1.4 million dollar deficit is coming to fruition.
“The staff are always looking for ways to reduce it but unfortunately is a fact of life.
“At the same time, I’m also looking around seeing so much work being done around the Shire and the CEO report shows how productive council is being."
Council comes to the aid of Mossman Golf Club
The Council has come to the aid of the Mossman Golf Course resolving to purchase the land and lease the club operations to the Mossman Bowls Club.
The future of the club had been uncertain with current operators facing financial difficulties.
The Mossman Golf Club sits on three parcels of land, two of which are already controlled by Council. Council will purchase the 1.42-hectare freehold block of land containing the clubhouse and carpark and associated buildings and lease all three lots to an operator.
“We are not buying a golf club, we are buying the asset of land, the bricks and mortar, and will lease the actual business out to the Mossman Bowls Club,” Mayor Kerr said.
Mayor Kerr said Council will purchase the property for under the market value and through the lease would be able to get a return on the investment.
“It's a win-win situation, the community gets to keep the golf course, a great local sporting club, and the ratepayers will get a return on the asset purchase.”
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