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Council gives go-ahead to controversial Mooloolaba seawall project

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A terraced seawall will be built at Mooloolaba after the Sunshine Coast Council gave the green light to the project yesterday.

A motion endorsing a report and approval of the design of stage two of the Mooloolaba Revitalisation Project was passed by the council six votes to three.

Mayor Rosanna Natoli and her husband, Councillor Joe Natoli, who represents Division 4, which includes Mooloolaba, were forced to exclude themselves from the discussion due to conflicts of interest.

Mrs Natoli said she had received a voucher for five nights accommodation from the manager of the Peninsula apartments as an election campaign gift in February, and the resort could potentially benefit or be affected by the project.

Mr Natoli said he could also have a conflict of interest as a person close to her.

The seawall has been the subject of debate within the community, with some locals vehemently against it. The Beach Matters group posted immediately after the meeting that it was “totally gutted”, while the state member for Maroochydore Fiona Simpson said businesses could suffer during the construction period.

Related story: Start date for foreshore project work pushed back

Councillors Terry Landsberg, Christian Dickson and Taylor Bunnag voted against the motion to endorse the report and design, which was supported by councillors Jenny Broderick, Tim Burns, Winston Johnston, Ted Hungerford, David Law and deputy mayor Maria Suarez, who chaired the meeting while the mayor excluded herself.

Cr Dickson said he was “stuck” on the loss of beach space involved with stage two of the project, saying “once that happens, you can’t get it back”.

He sought an amendment to have stage two redesigned so there was no loss of beach space but was advised he could only seek this in an alternative motion if the vote was lost.

Cr Burns said he was heartened to know the project would improve disability access so that people of all abilities could enjoy the beauty of Mooloolaba.

The proposed design of the Central Meeting Place.

The project had been endorsed at a previous council meeting but councillors had requested a report be prepared before awarding a tender.

During the meeting, councillors received an update on the community engagement history, key project drivers and the design and delivery of the project, focusing on stage two of the project, which includes what is referred to as a Central Meeting Place and the southern seawall.

Stage two of the revitalisation project follows on from the completion of the award-winning first stage, the Northern Parklands

A council statement released after the meeting said works were expected to start in February year.

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Yesterday’s meeting also approved a draft business activation plan developed by the council, the Mooloolaba Business Activation Group and the Mooloolaba Stakeholder Interest Group, to assist local businesses during the construction phase.

Ms Suarez said in the statement she was pleased the business community had been given extra time to prepare for the project, which she said would continue to ensure Mooloolaba remained a key tourism drawcard.

She said the council was focused on ensuring the business community was supported during construction and shared the future vision for the project.

An artist’s impression of Mooloolaba Beach, including the seawall and parkland.

“We have been listening through these forums and it is apparent that there will never be absolute consensus about this project, but it is vitally important to present the facts and give our businesses and community certainty about when this project will occur,” she said.

“The revitalised foreshore will ensure Mooloolaba remains an attractive and competitive destination, whilst also playing an important role welcoming visitors, spectators and athletes attending the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Council stated, via the media release, that the key drivers for the project, especially the effects of erosion, had not changed are there was a need to invest in the project now.

It stated that the Loo with a View must be renewed to reduce public risk, and the foreshore must be made climate resilient with a new seawall that can withstand the predicted coastal conditions for the next 50 years and beyond.

It stated that there would be efforts to minimise disruption to local businesses and the community and that the revamp would assist the local economy for years to come and provide a fresh look for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

But Ms Simpson said local businesses could suffer, and local operators had expressed concerns to her.

“We all want a beautiful Mooloolaba, with the best protection for the beach and also support for business,” she said.

“Sadly, council’s decision has not taken into account over the incursion of the proposed structure into the beach zone, but also the impact upon businesses’ continuity over the nearly two-year construction period.

Mooloolaba is a tourist hub.

“Many in the business community are unhappy with the decision as they are warning it will kill their businesses and cost jobs if people can’t access the beach or their establishments.

“Council has provided no assurances or information to business about how customers will be able to access their businesses and the beach.

“Without a business continuity plan with proper access, car parking and awareness of the issues local businesses face, this will kill jobs and businesses.

“If it’s not done right the so-called business activation strategy is just a PR job without substance.

“Mooloolaba Beach is a tourism jewel of the Sunshine Coast and it must be protected.”

A council spokesperson told Sunshine Coast News full costing for stage two works were still to be determined.

“The cost of the stage two Central Meeting Place and southern seawall will be determined as a result of a successful construction contractor being appointed,” they said.

“The construction contract is currently in probity environment and therefore is commercial in confidence at this time.

“The revitalisation project including the replacement of the seawall is funded by council’s 10-year Capital Works Program and the Federal Government.

“In June 2023, it was announced the project would receive $7.95 million in funding from the Federal Government’s National Emergency Management Agency Disaster Ready Fund toward replacing the seawall.”

Council has a FAQs page on replacing the existing seawall.

Do you have an opinion to share? Submit a Letter to the Editor at Sunshine Coast News via news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au. You must include your name and suburb.

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