Council approves concept design for proposed aquatic centre


Eilish Massie

By July 2022, Boyne Tannum residents will know whether Gladstone Regional Council will proceed forward with building a proposed aquatic centre in Tannum Sands.

In a general meeting on Tuesday, councillors unanimously approved the concept designs for an aquatic facility planned for Coronation Drive.

The $21.08 million project will consist of a 50m 10-lane Olympic sized swimming pool with bulkhead and water slides. The project will now proceed with a development application.

Mayor Matt Burnett was not present during the meeting due to his conflict of interest as Labor Candidate for Flynn.

It comes after he promised $15million for the project in January if he wins the federal election, which is likely to be called in May.

While each councillor praised the project moving forward, Councillor Natalia Muszkat called for commitment from other parties to ensure the project goes ahead in case Mr Burnett is not successful in winning the seat.

“I understand the Labor party has committed $15million for the project prior to the election,” she said.

“If the Labor party is not successful in the next election, we would not have access to these funds and that would be quite sad, especially now we might be able to have (the aquatic centre).”

Councillor Kahn Goodluck agreed it would be beneficial to put pressure on other candidates to fund the project.

“This council has never been closer to making this project a reality,” he said.

“We’re so close, we absolutely need another commitment from another candidate to try and secure this project for the community.”

However, Councillor Glenn Churchill was conscious about turning the project into a ‘political football’.

“I understand your intent in approaching all parties for the commitment in this important community infrastructure,” Cr Churchill said.

“The fact that one already has, or is subject to (commit) has probably drawn attention to the other candidates but I’m probably not prepared to move an amendment at this stage with the intent of not making this project a political football of tooing and throwing.”

Cr Churchill also said the council had already written to candidates and gave them an outline of the project.

“There is no reason why industry couldn’t commit to this facility, there is no reason why other stakeholders couldn’t commit to this facility,” he said.

“From my point of view, we should be writing to everybody and anybody (for funding).”

Councillor Chris Trevor added the candidates who did not realise the importance of the project, should not be running for the seat.

“From my perspective if you are a candidate in the upcoming federal election and don’t realise the gravity and importance of this hot button issue for the Boyne Tannum community then perhaps you should look at an alternative position,” he said.

Cr Muszkat later rescinded her amendment.

For thirty years, the Boyne Island Tannum Sands community has been advocating for an aquatic centre for the area.

So far, Council has spent $350,000 on a feasibility study for the project.

It will now move onto a detailed design phase, which is expected to cost $720,000 and be completed by July.

Private developer ZenDev had its own development application for an aquatic centre approved by GRC on 1 March.

Cr Muszkat asked about the likelihood ZenDev would appeal Council’s project.

“Obviously we have another proponent, where they intend to build some sort of aquatic facility and their development application was approved two weeks ago,” she said.

“ There would be the potential we get to a point where we have a D.A ready, that if this continues without any issues – how do you see the likelihood of having an appeal from the (other) proponent?

“At the end of the day if we face a situation where we can’t have two facilities that will not be able to survive if there’s two or there won’t be enough people to attend those facilities, what do you think is going to happen?.”

A Gladstone Regional Council officer said the council would ensure a “transparent” process with the development application.

“It is our intention to have a strong D.A and to meet any requirements that council puts on the application,” she said.

GRC said ZenDev’s development application remained separate from the Council’s project.

Cr Goodluck, Cr Churchill, Cr Hansen, and Cr Muszkat implored the community to be kept informed about any developments regarding the aquatic centre.

Cr Trevor said it was not an easy task to deliver a project “as significant as this.”

“The public I would ask, and would appreciate that we are doing the best we can in difficult times financially and otherwise,” he said.

“Those who have been involved with local government realise it takes many years from the day of the announcement to its appearance on the front page of the paper… that the design and planning, and final investment decision takes many many years since the day of the announcement was first made.

“(This project) simply won’t happen in the short term.”