YEARS of campaigning by the Whitsunday boating fraternity have finally paid off, with a firm commitment last week to upgrade the VMR/Whisper Bay boat ramp.
Whitsunday Mayor Jennifer Whitney said the Queensland Government had honoured its election commitment of $3 million for the boat ramp, meaning work on the $3.2m project could officially start.
“Council has already undertaken preparatory work for the project and based on the Queensland Government’s agreement to fund the project, we expect to have the new boat ramp completed by the end of the year,” she said.
Cr Whitney said the designs, costings and timeline for the project had all been finalised, with 3D designs available to the public.
She said the council had already prepared 42,000 cubic metres of rock from Foxdale Quarry to build a breakwater to shelter the ramp.
State Government officials were on the ground last Thursday, inspecting the site in preparation for the lodgement of a tidal works application.
Once the permit for tidal works is approved, a council resolution for construction will be sought and tenders for the work will be advertised.
Local boat ramp advocate Greg France said the Improve the Whitsundays Boat Ramp Committee was overjoyed to know the safe harbour would finally go ahead.
“We have fought for nearly five years to make this happen and we and the boating, tourist and fishing community are very grateful to the current Whitsunday Regional Council for their support and hard work behind the scenes over the past few years,” he said.
“It is very impressive to see a State Government deliver on their election promises and this infrastructure addition is nothing but good news for the Whitsundays.”
Passionate fisherman Bob Spees said the boat ramp had been a major issue for him since a little girl nearly died on the exposed facility about five years ago. “That was the start of it all for me,” he said.
“There have been numerous accidents on the ramp and it’s all about the safety of a family going fishing and the kids.”
Mr Spees said he wanted to thank the community.
“Everyone who signed the petition, who got involved in the rally through town – without them it wouldn’t have happened and it just shows what a community can do,” he said.
“And a lot of people doubted it would ever happen, but to have it done in such a short time now is just great news.”
Mr Spees said a special thank you was also due to former State Labor candidate Bronwyn Taha, Cr Whitney and all her councillors, and the Queensland Government for honouring its election commitment so quickly.