DOUGLAS Shire Council will negotiate a better route for the Mowbray North section of the Wangetti Trail after the State Government turned a promised 2.25km mangrove experience board walk into a shorter track on road reserve.
Councillors today resolved to advise the Queensland Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport (DTIS) that Council would not accept asset ownership for any construction related to the Mowbray North section of the Wangetti Trail.
Significant increases to forecast depreciation costs, unfinished works, the current economic climate, and changes to a proposed route which now travels along a residential area, rather than bushland, were identified as key reasons for the decision.
Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said the proposed track had missed the mark.
“The department’s current proposal is disappointing and very different to what Council supported three years ago,” he said.
“While Council supports the Wangetti Trail as a regional tourism attraction, the current economic climate, lack of construction work done, and the much-reduced length and quality of the current trail proposal puts us in a difficult position.
“The new proposed route basically turns the original idea of a wilderness track into a footpath meandering through the suburbs.”
“We do not believe ratepayers should be lumped with a depreciating asset and pay for its maintenance when what it actually is has changed so dramatically from what Council agreed to.”
Depreciation is an accounting method used to record declines in the value of an asset over time.
These declines need to be absorbed in Council’s operational budget each year, meaning less money can be spent on providing services to the ratepayers.
Since the Council resolution in January 2019, a number of factors relating to the Mowbray North component of the trail have changed:
Mowbray River Pedestrian Bridge:
- The original proposed re-purposing of the old Mowbray Bridge could not proceed and a large concrete bridge over the Mowbray River was constructed with no input from Council officers.
- The original alignment included a 2.25km mangrove experience boardwalk and 5km trail to Four Mile Beach.
- The now proposed alignment is much shorter with a 4.2km trail (1.5metre wide compacted road base) and a 395-metre boardwalk with the current proposal using State Government Road reserve, Council roads and a significant portion over freehold land.
- The track is proposed to link into the end of Mitre Street with users walking along footpaths and roads to Four Mile Beach into Port Douglas.
- 2019 estimates: $64,000 per year
- 2022 estimates: $343,000 per year
- Increase of 435%
- In the original proposal, maintenance costs were to be funded through the commercial permits issued for use of the trail.
- No commercial permits have been issued to date and the future ability for commercial permits to fund maintenance on the Mowbray North section remains unknown.