'Year of consolidation': Mayor
FINALISING flood mitigation projects in North Bundaberg and the confirmation of the gas pipeline to the Port of Bundaberg spearheaded a year of consolidation for the Bundaberg region as 2015 draws to a close.
Bundaberg Mayor Mal Forman said that while the current year had closed the door on scheduled flood repair work it had also been one that involved finalising some exciting future plans.
"More than $17 million was invested in flood mitigation work on the northside of Bundaberg with the provision of evacuation routes and community safety the key project outcomes," he said.
"The announcement by the State Government that $19 million was guaranteed for the construction of the gas pipeline has provided certainty for the proposed $70 million Knauf plasterboard factory at the port.
"The pipeline construction is scheduled for the second quarter of 2016 and is a project that is pivotal to the commercial development of the Port of Bundaberg.
"Council has played its role in preparing the Port precinct for expansion with significant investment in extended sewerage and water infrastructure that will also cater to residential development in the area."
Cr Forman said the region's retail sector gained momentum with council approving the site for a new Masters store.
"Further retail outlets were developed in the Johanna Boulevard precinct with A Mart, Pet Store, Rays Camping and Pillow Talk among the new stores to open with St Vincent De Paul Society also unveiling its new bulk sales and collection centre," he said.
"I believe there have been strong gains made in the area of tourism with Bundaberg's aviation pioneering hero Bert Hinkler very much in the international media spotlight.
"Council assisted with the development of a Hinkler memorial in Italy and has also thrown its support behind the restoration of Hinkler's 1920's Armstrong Siddeley vehicle.
"We are also seeing tourism depth develop with regards the Chinese interest in our region particularly through education opportunities. Our economic connections with Nanning will continue to strengthen over coming years and I am convinced we will see meaningful trade relationships established with our sister city."
Cr Forman said regional growth was not possible unless the required building blocks are put in place.
"We have been investing in essential infrastructure in identified growth areas of the region with projects like the $16 million upgrade to the Thabeban Wastewater Treatment Plant and the commencement of the $71 million Rubyanna Wastewater Treatment Plant.
"People contemplating purchasing or investing in property in the Bundaberg region have a right to expect to have access to fully serviced residential allotments."
"One of the highlights of the year is undoubtedly the adoption of a new Town Planning Scheme which effectively replaces the individual schemes of the four amalgamated Councils of Bundaberg, Burnett, Isis and Kolan.
"This year Council also received recognition for its involvement in providing programs and venues with a focus on community health.
"Council has partnered with organisations like Medicare Local in providing award winning facilities such as Boreham and Schuhkraft Parks for residents to undertake recreational leisure-time activities that can involve the entire family," said Cr Forman.
Turning to the operational capabilities of Council, the Mayor said staff had maintained a high level of service delivery despite financial constraints that had operating expenditure this financial year capped at the level of the 2013-14 financial year.
"Our staff is doing more with less and much of the efficiencies have been gained through the prudent use of technology which is assuming an ever-growing importance in Council's business delivery.
"Council has worked very hard over the past couple of years and I believe all that hard work will translate into tangible outcomes over the next 12 months and beyond.
"I liken the situation to having numerous projects planned and in place for a domino effect to take place."
Cr Forman said projects like the CBD and Riverside precinct revitalisation project will be advanced, Rubyanna and the Multiplex facility at the old Showgrounds site will commence while the NBN rollout across the Bundaberg region will open up digital economy engagement for businesses and superior broadband services for local residents.
"There is much to like about the future of our region and I believe our community will receive long term benefits from this investment in planning and infrastructure that has been carried out over the past few years."