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STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT AND COUNCIL REACH ‘AGREEMENT’ ON VITAL CANAIPA (RUSSELL) ISLAND LAND FOR BOTANICAL GARDENS The Botanical Gardens on Canaipa (Russell) Island are about to become a reality after nearly seven years of effort. A lease for the Botanical Gardens site on Russell Island is currently being finalised. The Bay Islands Conservation group has been patiently waiting for nearly seven years for the land to be made available by the Queensland State Government Education Department via the Redland City Council. It was three years ago in September 2020 when Redland City Council resolved to enter into a three-year trustee lease with the State Government over three hectares of Kings Road land, Russell Island. Despite claims Redland City Council was ‘progressing’ the arrangement after receiving advice from the State Government, the final processing has been delayed for a number of reasons, not least of which has been the Covid pandemic and the large change-over of staff at council. The Friendly Bay Islander and president of the Bay Islands Conservation Group, Peter Nelson, sought the assistance of Member for Redlands Kim Richards. She recently advised:”Redland City Council (the Council) is proposing the use of the site as a community (botanical) garden. “The department and the Council have reached an agreement and it is in the process of being finalised, with the department issuing an agreed Permit to Occupy (PTO) to the Council. “A PTO is a standard agreement used by the State Government to enable another party to occupy or use State land for a specific purpose. “The PTO will allow the Council to use the site for a community (botanical) garden,”Kim Richards said. The signing of the lease and handover will allow for work to finally start on the project. Council is to lease the land from the Department of Education and is providing a three-year licence to occupy with Bay Islands Conservation Inc (BICI), which will develop and manage the Botanical Gardens. The Friendly Bay islander first raised the idea of a botanical garden on the site in 2016 after introducing a former Director General of the Department of Education to the site when he visited for the Russell Island State School Centenary celebrations. The Bay Islands Conservation Group Inc was invited to take over management of the Botanical Gardens concept and the vision is to create a central community hub alongside the Bay Island Sport and Resilience Hub. Peter Nelson, president of Bay Islands Conservation Inc, welcomed council’s decision, stating the gardens would eventually become a focal point of the islands. He acknowledged Gerard Thompson of the Friendly Bay Islander for his efforts in developing the concept and driving the project in association with BICI. Cr Mark Edwards stated he was ‘excited by the project’ and the role it could play in shaping the future of the Bay Islands. “In association with another BICI project, the island walking trails, there will be many reasons for visitors to soon come and enjoy our islands.” Early goals after securing the 8.5 acre site, will include perimeter fencing; identifying existing flora on the site; identifying island endangered flora and encompassing it in the gardens; having the site assessed and shaped to exciting designs being provided by Peter Nelson, the conservation group president and island resident and architect. Some island businesses have come on board to carry out some of the works to prepare the site. The theme of the Botanical Gardens is likely to be Plants of the Islands of Australia.

• Kim Richards MP with Peter Nelson of the Conservation Group on the magnificent site of the Botanical Gardens.



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