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11 January, 2022

What's new in 2022

IMPROVING water infrastructure is very much at the top of the priority list for the region’s Mayors and State politicians as they reveal what projects are important for them to pursue in 2022.

By Robyn Holmes

Photo | Dreamstime

Apart from projects aimed at boosting water security and delivery, improvements to the region’s road network, a “revitalisation” project for Atherton, and an exciting new fun park for Mareeba are also on the cards. 

Mareeba Mayor Angela Toppin, Tablelands Mayor Rod Marti, Member for Cook Cynthia Lui and Member for Hill Shane Knuth have all responded to The Express’s request to outline what locals can look forward to this year and what are the most important projects to pursue in the next 12 months. 

With a capital budget of $31.4 million, Mayor Toppin said there were a considerable number of projects to be completed this financial year, particularly in relation to urban water delivery. 

“The important works to water infrastructure are progressing well, with significant progress already made. Council has replaced approximately 2.1km of water main in Mareeba and Kuranda and, when the project is complete, will have replaced 3.9km of pipe,” Cr Toppin said. 

Council was also waiting on Ergon Energy to finalise the expansion of the power supply network in Chillagoe to enable the commissioning of the Chillagoe bore and pipeline. 

“This milestone will mean council can lift the Level 3 Water Restrictions which have been in place in Chillagoe since 2017,” she said. 

Another key goal for the Mareeba region will be the competition of an investment attraction strategy for two major economic development opportunities – the Mareeba Industrial Park and the Mareeba Airport Aviation Park. 

“The Mareeba Industrial Park presents a significant opportunity to business and industry, with some of the most flexible land use in Queensland and an abundant supply of affordable, appropriately zoned land,” Cr Toppin said. 

“With its close proximity to producers and growers, the park is already becoming established as a transport and logistics hub.” 

She said the Mareeba Airport Aviation Park was a unique location which provided a real opportunity to support global growth of the aviation industry and the regional economy in Northern Australia. The newly developed 52-lot (Stage 1) western precinct at the aviation park had both commercial and recreational lease sites and all land was zoned Industry (Heavy Industry Precinct). 

A strategy to guide the development of Mareeba Shire’s parks and open spaces will also be finalised early in 2022. 

“Informed by the results of the survey issued by council during 2021, the community's feedback and input has been considered to result in a plan to enhance council's parks and open spaces without any anticipated financial impact on ratepayers,” Cr Toppin said. 

Improving water infrastructure in the Mareeba Shire is a top priority.

The Mayor was also excited at the prospect that Mareeba will finally get its promised Splash Park this year. Council was allocated $1.5 million for the splash park from the State Government. 

“Council has submitted the project plan for the Mareeba Splash Park to the Deputy Premier and Minister for Local Government's office for approval and, if this is accepted, the project will be completed by the end of June 2022,” she said.

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui is also aware how much locals are looking forward to the new facility. 

“I know Mareeba Council have been busy undertaking planning for the Splash Park and construction is still on track to occur in 2022. The construction timeline will be confirmed early next year,” she said. 

“I can’t wait to see the Splash Park come to life.” 

Ms Lui said she would continue to “build on the success of my past term that has delivered well over $190 million in critical infrastructure and program funding for Mareeba", naming the completion of the Cedric Davies Community Hub and the new Mareeba Animal Refuge as highlights. 

Ms Lui said the government also demonstrated its clear commitment to community safety by placing three additional police officers at the Mareeba Police Station. 

Roads were a high priority, with several projects completed and more to get underway this year. 

“Stage 1 of the $45 million works between Kennedy Highway (Cairns – Mareeba) intersection and Vicary Road was completed. Stage 2 of the Kennedy Highway safety upgrade has started, continuing the progress made on the jointly funded $37.5 million project between Mareeba and Atherton,” she said. 

“The final project (between Malone Road and Mareeba-Dimbulah Road) will start in mid-2022, with completion expected in early 2023.” 

The $14.8 million package of sealing works on the Burke Developmental Road between Almaden and Chillagoe were also expected to be completed in 2022.

Ms Lui said the State had also recognised the importance of improving water infrastructure, with Mareeba Shire Council awarded $3.24 million to upgrade the Barang Street Water Main (Kuranda) and the McGrath Road Water Pipe Renewal Program (Mareeba). 

Tablelands Mayor Rod Marti is also focussed on better water delivery to his local government area. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing further progress on water improvements in the region and particularly to the completion of the Ravenshoe reservoir and associated infrastructure,” he said. 

“This work will drastically change the water quality and security to Ravenshoe and surrounds and represents another step in our long journey of water improvements across the region.” 

He said the completion of the Duncan Brown and Merragallen bridges would also be critical to improving the area’s road network, as was pursuing solutions to traffic congestion in Atherton. 

“Next year we’re also looking forward to making a start on the Prior’s Creek development and revitalisation of Atherton,” Cr Marti said. 

Expanding the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park is a priority in 2022.

“We’d like to see successes with cycling in the region including expanding the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park, extending the Atherton Tableland Rail Trail to Herberton and working with the community to develop a cycling strategy.” 

Cr Marti said council would continue to consult widely across the community on various projects including the community plan and improvements to the Millaa Millaa Falls area. 

He said his three top priorities for 2022 were to “build strong relationships and work collaboratively with indigenous groups like the Southern Tablelands Traditional Owner Association; grow currency and consistency in our organisation with an experienced and long-term CEO; and advocating for short and long-term solutions to the housing crisis in our region”. 

“Finally, I’d like to say that we’ve all had an unprecedented two years because of the unfolding nature of Covid-19 and its variants. The virus is in our region and it’s going to be with us for some time. 

“I’ll take this opportunity to remind everyone to be respectful and attuned to the needs and views of others. We all have our challenges, but those things that we can navigate respectfully will ultimately lead to us being a more tolerant and resilient community. 

“It won’t be easy, but each of us has a role to play in being supportive and understanding, especially when we enter hospitals, general practices/clinics, allied health, aged care facilities and the many small and medium businesses trying their best to maintain a service to us. 

“It’s a journey that’s our collective responsibility.” 

Member for Hill Shane Knuth said amongst the many issues he would be tackling in 2022, water security and delivery remained the top priority. 

“Water is the number one priority as the Tablelands agriculture industry cannot expand without further water infrastructure,” Mr Knuth said. 

“This is why I will continue to push for the North Johnstone Transfer Scheme, which is affordable, has very little environmental impact and is already an approved project, dating back to the 1930s.” 

Mr Knuth said roads were also high on his priority list and would continue to push the Minister for Transport and Main Roads for a faster, safer, alternative route from Cairns to the Tablelands for the benefit of residents and the trucking and mining industries.

The completion of the new Ravenshoe reservoir will add to the region's water security.

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