2019 - THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS!
Another year has come and gone and a reflection on 2019 is one of both disappointment and possibilities for our Southern Bay Islands.
The sealing of island roads and mobile phone and internet communications have been the major disappointments.
The year started on a sour note when it was discovered that the ‘green sealing’ of island roads was to be halted by Redland City Council in the 2019-2020 budget, despite a $500,000 Federal Government grant that still has to be ‘finalised’.
Federal Government Black Spot towers were funded with promises they would be installed mid year by Telstra and Optus on North Stradbroke and Russell Islands.
Despite promises and claims by both companies, there are still no signs of towers being erected on either island.
Another blow, earlier in the year, was the situation regarded industrial zoning on Macleay Island.
A successful island business suffering the ignominy of being taken to court because he operates from a home base, only to have it thrown out by the court at considerable cost to council.
Given the circumstances, it should never have occurred in the first place because Redland City Council has never put in place adequate planning precincts on the island.
There was turmoil aplenty on Straddie, particularly between factions in the aboriginal community; and the transition from sand mining to tourism.
With the mine to close for good this month, there is still much uncertainty about some of the outcomes that are in place.
It was good to see a few months ago that the downside of 2019 was being balanced by an upside in island fortunes.
$34 million is to be set aside by the Queensland Government and Redland City Council for the construction new jetties for the islands of Karragarra, Macleay, Lamb and Russell Islands.
Plans went on view on all islands just prior to going to press, as part of the approval process, with work on the Russell Island jetty to start in 2020.
Other positives in the latter half of the year have been more police turning Russell Island into a four-man police station, and the start of the NBN fibre laying on the islands, with North Stradbroke the first to receive the cable.
Botanical Gardens on Russell Island are a step closer following a consultative process that has now been completed.
The first stage of work in the Weinam Creek PDA development has started with the Moore’s Road car park work now underway. It is expected to be completed mid 2020 with other elements of the PDA to follow.
CCTV for Weinam Creek has also been announced in another positive, and a real surprise was the selection of Karragarra Island for a special ‘first ever Queensland trial’ of driverless buses.
The Federal Government was put on notice re more funding required for our islands.
However, the real breakthrough came from Cr Mark Edwards when he made some discoveries about how our islands were first amalgamated into the Redlands.
He debunked some incorrect history that always painted the islands as a ‘burden’ on Redland City Council.
Not so, it seems.
The island literally saved the Redlands back in the 1970’s providing an injection of more than 30% increase in revenue to the council of the day.
The only trouble is, they used that money to fund road building on the mainland, to the detriment to our islands.
How great that Mark Edwards has corrected a misnomer in popular history.
Now it is our turn!
Our representatives have worked hard on our behalf, particularly Cr Edwards, Member for Redland Kim Richards, and Federal Member Andrew Laming.
The page is now turned to future infrastructure, particularly a sewage system for the islands.