Redland City’s heartfelt thanks go out to all those who helped battle the fires which raged across North Stradbroke Island over the New Year.
Their efforts ensured the safety of residents and their homes as well as the many visitors who had headed to Straddie for their holidays.
To have emerged from this crisis without loss of life or homes is testament to the extraordinary efforts of a vast number of people.
Deputy Mayor and Local Disaster Recovery Committee chair Cr Alan Beard echoed the sentiments of many in our community when he said he was “in awe’’ of the way in which fire and emergency services, police, Department of Natural Resources and Mines, Energex, Seqwater, National Parks, SES, Red Cross, Council’s Conservation and Fire Management team and other Council staff were prepared to do whatever it took to deal with this potentially life-threatening situation.
He was backed by local Councillor Craig Ogilvie in his praise of the response.
In particular, the efforts of emergency services in evacuating 900 campers from Main Beach undoubtedly saved lives, with three campgrounds destroyed by fire the day after the evacuation.
Special thanks also go to the Straddie community and businesses, particularly the ferry companies, and the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation for their considerable and much-appreciated efforts.
The measured response to this emergency and the professionalism and dedication of all involved was truly remarkable.
All Redlanders should now join to promote the message that Straddie is well and truly open for business and welcoming visitors with open arms.
Tell your friends, family and acquaintances to put visiting beautiful Straddie on the top of their “to do” lists. As well as helping fellow Redlanders, it is sure to be a wonderful experience.
I have written to Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey asking the Government to help in the immediate recovery phase by making available funding for an integrated “open for business” marketing campaign.
I pointed out that the fires had a significant impact on the island economy and that the government had stepped in previously to help out in times of need with such campaigns. I hope to have a response soon.
While the effort on the island is now in recovery-mode, services are being fully restored and we are assessing potential risks and working to ensure sick or injured wildlife are cared for. Visitors will barely notice the impact of the fires with Straddie’s beaches as stunning as ever.
These fires, which burned for almost two weeks after being sparked by lightning on the night of December 29, also graphically underscore the importance of Council’s emergency planning and just how vital it is for all residents to have their own disaster plans and kits at the ready.
It was clear that many Straddie residents had heeded the message and were prepared. Well done all.
Council’s Disaster Management Plan: Part II – specifically tailored for islanders, the City’s most isolated residents – proved itself a valuable resource for coordinating the firefighting effort.
A quick and easy guide to preventing, preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergencies, I urge anyone who has not read it to do so. You will find it through the Disaster Hub on Council’s website at www.redland.qld.gov.au.
While we reflect on how fortunate we have been to come out of this crisis relatively unscathed, we need to remain vigilant with storm season well upon us.
Keep up to date with potential severe weather events and the fire situation through Council’s and the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ websites, Facebook and Twitter pages.
See the PDA plans
You can now view the draft plans for the Redlands’ two most important and exciting new projects.
The Proposed Development Schemes are a significant step in the transformation of Cleveland’s Toondah Harbour and Redland Bay’s Weinam Creek Priority Development Areas into integrated transport, tourism, residential and business hubs.
The draft plans are the result of extensive consultation with the community and businesses and that process will continue.
Redland City Deputy Mayor Cr Alan Beard said the draft plans heralded an exciting new era of growth and promised a massive and much-needed boost for business, jobs and community facilities.
“I encourage all residents to have their say on these plans during the public notification period which continues until 24 February,’’ he said.
“A range of community improvements, such as waterfront walkways and cycle paths, as well as long-standing community concerns about car parking arrangements at Weinam Creek, are among the features being addressed as part of this planning process, so we urge all to be involved.’’
The next round of community information forums on the Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area will be held on:
• Saturday, 1 February, 1-3pm at Island View Cafe, Toondah Harbour Ferry Terminal.
• Friday, 7 February, 3.30pm-5.30pm at Island View Cafe, Toondah Harbour Ferry Terminal.
• Saturday, 8 February, 1-3pm at Dunwich Community Hall, Dunwich, North Stradbroke Island.
Community information forums on the Weinam Creek plan will be held on:
• Thursday, 30 January, 5-8pm at Redland Bay Community Hall, Redland Bay.
• Thursday, 6 February, 5-8pm at Macleay Progress Hall, Macleay Island.
The draft plans can also be viewed at the Cleveland Customer Service Centre, Cleveland Library, Capalaba Customer Service Centre, Capalaba Library or Victoria Point Library, Russell Island Library and Bay Island Community Services on Russell and Macleay islands until 24 February.
Next round of grants opens soon
The next round of submissions for grants for individuals and community groups working to make the Redlands a better place will open on January 27.
Applications, designed to help deliver projects of community benefit, will close on 28 February.
The program is an expression of Redland City Council’s commitment to ensuring the delivery of essential initiatives and projects across the arts and cultural heritage, the environment, community development, enterprise development, and sport and recreation.
Over the years these grants have supported initiatives such as helping junior sporting clubs provide much-needed opportunities, restoring wildlife habitats, rebuilding community clubs and supporting cultural exhibitions.
Grant categories this round include Organisation Support, Project Support and Conservation.
Grants are also available under the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF), an Arts Queensland and Redland City Council partnership to support local arts and culture.
For more information or to get an application form, visit www.redland.qld.gov.au/CommunitySupport or contact the grants team on 3829 8911.
Save Ziggy’s mates
The sad case of Ziggy the koala – which survived the Straddie firestorm only to be mauled by dogs – is a message to all dog owners to ensure they act responsibly and observe the laws.
The family pets which attacked Ziggy were roaming free despite the fact that, by Redland City law, they were supposed to be restrained with a leash or enclosed in a yard.
As North Stradbroke Island continues to recover from the massive bushfire sparked by lightning on December 29, Ziggy’s tragic end underscores the need to ensure dog laws are observed at all times throughout the Redlands.
Redland City councillor Craig Ogilvie – whose Division 2 takes in North Stradbroke – said dog attacks were all-too common on the island and it was now even more critical for owners to ensure native fauna had a fighting chance.
“This is nothing more than what’s required by law but it’s even more crucial right now because a lot of wildlife has moved to new habitat and is highly vulnerable to attack,” Cr Ogilvie said.
Redland City’s Animal Management Committee spokeswoman Cr Wendy Boglary said Council officers would continue their increased presence on the island to reduce risks to wildlife and the public generally.
“It’s important that everyone does what they can to help Straddie heal,” Cr Boglary said.
“People can avoid a fine of $220 by ensuring they exercise their dogs on leads, except in designated off-leash areas.”
Home Beach is the only off-lead beach area. Dogs also can be run at Skatebowl Park at Dunwich between the skatebowl and the fenced area at the eastern end of the park.
Wildcare Straddie spokesman Greg Grimmett said uncontrolled domestic dogs caused horrific and heart-breaking injuries to native animals.
“A significant number of injuries we deal with are a result of domestic dogs not being under control,” Mr Grimmett said.
“People particularly should keep in mind that off-leash areas do not mean people do not have to have their dogs under control.
“If people are camping they need to control their dog 24 hours a day, especially at night – just because it was curled up outside the tent when they went to bed does not mean it didn’t wander around searching for prey.”
Mr Grimmett said visiting pet owners should ensure accommodation providers claiming to be pet-friendly were also “wildlife friendly” and offered enclosures.
“We get too many animals that are torn to bits because of dogs – a bit of common sense would go a long way,” he said.
Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) chief executive Cameron Costello urged people to “care for country” by respecting Straddie’s flora and fauna.
“We encourage people to come and holiday, to enjoy our beaches and everything else we have to offer … but also to be mindful that we are in recovery-mode,” Mr Costello said.
“We ask people not to wander from established tracks so our plants can regenerate and seeds can germinate, and our cultural sites are not disturbed.’’
Report injured wildlife to Wildcare Straddie on 0407 766 052.
Fluoride a State responsibility
The fluoridation of Redland City’s water supply is a State Government responsibilitry, Council has agreed.
Council in late December 2013 resolved unanimously to write to the State Government urging it to amend legislation to protect councils which want to remove fluoride from water supplies from the high costs involved.
Mayor Karen Williams said fluoridation was a health issue and as such was the responsibility of the State Government.
“The cost of removing fluoride is prohibitive to councils – an estimated $32 million in Redland City’s case – so we cannot afford to make the call, even if our community tells us it wants out of fluoride,’’ Cr Williams said.
“This is an expense we are not willing to force on ratepayers.”
Cr Williams said it was important to take into account that fluoridation was forced on councils by the State.
“The former Government mandated fluoride in our water without reference to councils, so we believe the current Government should decide whether or not fluoride should stay and bear the cost of removing it should councils make that decision on behalf of their communities,’’ she said.
“We will be asking Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle to give local government the choice of accepting non-fluoridated water without cost to councils.”
Sign of the times
New signs with digital messages may soon welcome visitors and residents to Redland City.
Council is investigating the installation of eight new signs at key entry points to the City.
The vision is for the signs to carry digital screens supporting the message that Redland City is the best place to live, work and do business, as well as important community service announcements.
These could include the promotion of major events and storm or fire warnings.
It is suggested signs would be installed at six major roads into the city as well as at the two Priority Development Area (PDA) sites at Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek, which are the major marine transport points for tourists.
The proposed locations for the signs are: Longland, Mount Cotton, Broadwater, Moreton Bay, Old Cleveland and Rickertt roads, Toondah Harbour (Middle Street) and Weinam Creek (Hamilton Street).
The calling of expressions of interest is the first step in the process.
Redland City Council will be closely watching development of Barro Group’s extension of its Mt Cotton quarry operations.
The extension’s approval by the Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning follows the Government’s formal decision to “call in’’ the quarry application after its rejection by Council last June.
Local Division 6 councillor and Planning and Development spokesperson Julie Talty said while the Minister had placed conditions on the approval, it was not yet clear how strict or effective they would be.
“Council and residents will be looking very closely at the detail, particularly those areas highlighted by Council as the grounds for rejecting the proposal in its detailed submission to the State Government in August this year,’’ she said.
“But until we can assess the detail, it is not possible to judge the full impact of the Minister’s decision.
“This includes noise, dust and traffic impacts and significant impacts on existing environmental habitats, with close proximity to existing rural residential houses and local businesses such as nurseries, cafés and guest houses, as well as road safety concerns.’’
As the Minister’s decision is final, Council has no choice but to accept the Government’s ruling and work with all parties to ensure the conditions placed on the approval are met by the applicant in the best interests of the residents.
Things to do
Redland City Council offers a range of interesting holiday activities for local youngsters. With school set to resume from Tuesday 28 January, head to our website and check out what’s happening.