Battle over RSL expansion
DISGRUNTLED Queensland Country Women's Association members have dug in their heels as a territorial battle simmers over the Bundaberg RSL's proposed multi-level expansion.
The keepers of country charm and fine regional cookery have warned they may reveal a nasty streak if the RSL's planned $3.5 million extension encroaches on the comfort of patrons at their rooms in Quay St.
The multimillion-dollar expansion promises new toilets, a larger gaming area, bigger outdoor smoking areas and a larger TAB.
Bundaberg branch president Edna Buck presented an official letter of objection to Mayor Lorraine Pyefinch at the Bundaberg Regional Council chambers yesterday – the development's final day of public consultation.
The organisation has disapproved of the “foul language” and “putrid second-hand smoke” that wafts through the Bundaberg QCWA headquarters from three outdoor smoking areas on the RSL's eastern side.
A civil engineer engaged by the organisation found that if the proposal goes ahead, the eastern wall of the RSL would be brought forward towards the QCWA headquarters by 5.3m, leaving a single-lane 2.4m driveway between the buildings.
The association fears if the plan is accepted by the council, the activities of the RSL would be brought virtually to the doorstep of the association, to the detriment of members and visiting religious groups.
“You can already hear it loud as day as it is,” Mrs Buck said.
“We often host church groups and our junior members, the Younger-Setters, and it's not a very nice atmosphere for them to have to put up with.”
The association has also raised concerns about the affect an increase in passive smoke entering the building would have on elderly members with respiratory problems.
“It particularly upsets older ladies with things like asthma,” Mrs Buck said.
The group's objection letter also raises concerns about the affect of the development on disabled and elderly members accessing the facility.
Mrs Buck claimed the RSL expansion would make the QCWA exit substantially smaller, limiting the access of larger vehicles and delivery trucks to the building.
She feared it would also make life harder for a number of disabled members who would no longer be able to be dropped off at the building's front door. “It's going to (be) extremely difficult for people to unload their wheelchairs and access the building,” she said.
Mrs Buck admitted QCWA members were better known for craftwork and prowess in the kitchen than taking on large venues, but warned the Bundaberg RSL it now had a fight on its hands.
“The comfort of our members is very important to us and we will not go down without a fight,” she said.
“You should never underestimate the power of Queensland country women.
“It's a little-known fact that CWA also stands for chicks with attitude.”
Bundaberg RSL general manager Col Rankin said the organisation had not been notified of an objection and would not comment until public consultation had ended and he could speak further with the council.