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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Mayoral Updates

Mark Nolan – Cassowary Coast Regional Council

Cassowary Coast Regional Council is committed to meeting community needs and has taken the top priorities and grouped them into six goals as part of Stage One of the Community Voice Action Plan. Council has begun to work towards these goals with several initiatives going to Council at the September Council Meeting to ensure these goals are met in 2022. Local Roads, Footpaths, Trails and Cycleways were identified as the highest priority by the community within the Community Scorecard. As a result, Council sought public feedback on a ‘draft’ Unsealed Roads Improvement Plan, Feedback provided through the Community Scorecard identified the community’s want for Dog Off-leash areas. To move forward with this request and also to meet Council’s 2022-23 Operational Plan to facilitate a trial of four Dog Off-Leash areas, Council sought feedback on six proposed locations for Dog Off-Leash areas. Located within Innisfail, Tully, Mission Beach, Kurrimine Beach and Cardwell, the trial will allow big and small dogs to run free within the designated area. Feedback will be reviewed, and a recommendation will be put forward to Council to trial four dog off-leash locations for up to 12 months. To create a better experience and increase opportunities, Council recently adopted a new Community Grants Program. The grants program has been modified into three categories which reflect community priorities and aim to diversify successful projects. The proposed changes will increase the funding available within the Community Grants Program as the Council steps away from providing some services and asset hire. This change will increase support for local businesses and increase community capacity. The Guidelines and Policy documents will be reviewed after six months. Best wishes for a wonderful festive season and a happy 2023. I look forward to updating you next year with our community highlights. www.cassowarycoast.qld.gov.au

Angela Toppin – Mareeba Shire Council

In this final edition of Connect FNQ for 2022, I would like to provide a snapshot of the Mareeba Shire and highlight the diversity that we are known for. The latest Census data tells us that the Mareeba Shire is home to an incredible 75 nationalities, which is something we celebrate every year at the Mareeba Multicultural Festival. We welcome people from all nations to experience life in the Mareeba Shire. The natural environment also varies greatly across the Shire. From the majestic Chillagoe Caves and outback towns along the Wheelbarrow Way to our World Heritage rainforest and waterfalls, the countryside also features highly productive agricultural and horticultural land. This environment, weather, and reliable water supply from Tinaroo Dam have seen the Gross Value of Agricultural Production for the financial year ended 30 June 2021 reaching $362 million*, increasing by 13% over the past five years. Boosted by booming commodities including avocados, mangoes, livestock, sugar cane, citrus and blueberries, the Mareeba Shire is one of the largest fruit-producing regions in Australia. Horticulture makes up 48% of the Shire’s agricultural production, estimated at $175 million for the financial year ended 30 June 2021 and, as Mayor, I am incredibly proud that the Shire’s farmers and supporting businesses represent, in most cases, the best international practice in farming in a tropical environment. We have also been identified as one of the major renewable energy zones under the Queensland Renewable Energy Zone initiative to develop energy infrastructure to support future investment projects in this industry, while the fledgling cotton industry is emerging with an increase of plantings predicted to grow by up to 30%. There are opportunities here for industry, supporting businesses and tourism, including food and agritourism, and we welcome interest from operators developing these attractions. This year, Council supported the NT Farmers Food Futures Roadshow and the French Ambassador’s visit, both opportunities to identify challenges and help operators plan for diversification or expansion in their businesses. We continue to advocate for this region to create the best possible conditions for growth, investment and expansion. I acknowledge the immense contribution that agriculture, tourism and small business make to this Shire. msc.qld.gov.au

Peter Scott – Cook Shire Council

The Mayor’s role is largely that of a political voice for Council and community. Over time we have developed a strong and credible relationship with Local, State and Federal Governments. We also maintain valuable and influential relationships with our fellow Councils via Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (FNQROC), Torres Cape Indigenous Council Alliance (TCICA), Local Government Association Queensland (LGAQ) and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA). We recently had the Policy Executive of the LGAQ visit Cooktown. These meetings are normally held in Brisbane, so it was a fantastic boost to our local economy to welcome such a large group to town. Their feedback expressed a genuine appreciation of the beauty, diversity and accessibility of our community, as well as an acknowledgment of how we’re addressing the challenges that affect our Shire, as well as many other rural, remote and financially stressed Councils. The Premier and her team dropped in for a day, and we again impressed them with our projects and progressive aspirations, including the Country University Centre, the Cooktown Airport commercial land release subdivision, the proposed Lakeland Irrigation Scheme and the regional aged care proposal. We also highlighted opportunities for a land release project and an affordable housing initiative. In September, we had a Ministerial Forum visit to Cooktown and a workshop with the Department of State Development about a regional economic strategy that will feed into a new Regional Infrastructure and Land Use Plan. We have serious challenges of remoteness, area, population, land use and weather variables. However, we are regarded as a successful and progressive Council due to the commitment and energy of our wonderful staff and Councillors. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and wish you all a prosperous and happy 2023. Merry Christmas, and enjoy the break. cook.qld.gov.au

Michael Kerr – Douglas Shire Council

Douglas Shire has experienced a 2022 tourism season like no other, where everyone has well and truly rediscovered our unique pocket of paradise. In the 2021/22 financial year, 688,000 visitors came to our region, stayed 2.35 million nights, and spent about $574 million. Many of these travellers ate at our local restaurants, booked tours, went shopping and made memories in our pristine region. This was almost a return to pre-COVID visitor numbers. Douglas grew domestic numbers by nearly 14% compared to 2019, which helped cushion the lower international visitation. This also led to a 24% increase in domestic visitor nights, with the average length of stay increasing to 5.7 days. We have also welcomed the return of cruise ships expected to tip almost $5 million into the local economy during their nine visits. Many passengers arrive on our shores with pre-booked tours to the Daintree, Kuranda, and Great Barrier Reef, while others spend the day exploring Port Douglas. The Daintree Ferry took more than 52,000 vehicles across the Daintree River between July and September 2022 – a 5% increase on the same period in 2019. We are celebrated as Australia’s first ECO-Certified destination with the nation’s peak body for sustainable tourism, EcoTourism Australia. With over 80% of land in the region protected under World Heritage Listing, and over 20 individual tour operators certified as EcoTourism businesses, Douglas is well-positioned to become a global leader in eco-luxe tourism, catering to high yield and sustainability-conscious visitors. Tourism is undoubtedly the cornerstone of the local economy and our largest employing industry, supporting over 2,500 jobs in Douglas Shire.  A lack of affordable housing and staff shortages are all national issues felt sharply on the ground here in Douglas. We have strengthened our advocacy efforts towards other levels of government to address widespread issues while continuing to deliver vital services, projects, and initiatives. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all Port Douglas and Daintree tourism operators for an outstanding year. I look forward to working closely for another bumper year in 2023. douglas.qld.gov.au

Rod Marti – Tablelands Regional Council

In 2018 we worked with the community to develop a vision and master plan for the Priors Creek area of Atherton. The project has recently been invigorated with the appointment of a project manager and steering committee. The Priors Creek Master Plan outlined the redevelopment of the Priors Creek area (adjacent to Railway Lane in Atherton) to create a family-oriented mixed-use and leisure area and commercial and retail space with a unique sense of place. The plan includes public art, picnic facilities, parking, performance space, improved access to Main Street, landscaping, streetscaping, feature lighting and improved safety, accessibility and connectivity. The scope and scale of the project make it regionally significant, not just for Atherton but the entire Tablelands. The project also recognises 20 desired outcomes across all five priority areas of our Tablelands 2030+ Community Plan. The plan is a roadmap to guide our decision-making, services and priorities. We will be talking to adjacent businesses and First Nations Peoples about the project and surveying the site. We’re also working on a business case to assess economic and community benefits, visitor attraction potential and a cost-benefit analysis. A detailed design is underway, and we’ll provide the draft design to the community for comment in early 2023.  We will be working with our state and federal colleagues to seek their funding support. The project will most likely progress in stages, with initial work focusing on the area between Vernon and Jack streets. If adequate funding can be secured, the project will be completed in its entirety. I wish everyone a safe and happy festive season with families and friends. Remember to be kind — It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give. trc.qld.gov.au

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