The Difference Between Being Right and Winning

When choosing a way forward on the Brunswick Heads holiday parks issue, we’re faced with a tough choice: dig our heels in, possibly prove ourselves legally right and then likely be left with less than what is currently possible. Or, we can drop the need to be right and get more foreshore access, better ramps, and future wins. Welcome to Councillor’s juggling act!  With getting the best outcome for the community front and centre, most of us will soon choose the option that gives us more.

We are negotiating to get at least 3 times wider public access along the foreshore of each park, better and upgraded boat ramps, a carpark and kids playground for the public and the protection of the memorial cypress trees.

We will not satisfy our desire to rally against and halt the state government’s continued land grabs along our coastal areas. Hopefully our state representatives can help us with this. For me, and for the rest of those supporting resolving this issue, we are locals, working on a local problem, searching and soon to gain local benefits.

So, what will we gain?

Ferry Reserve. 

We all want public access along the foreshore and we want it unfettered of tent pegs, sprawling campsites and from feeling we are encroaching on visitors’ set ups. Instead of the required 3 metre setbacks, we will achieve 10 metre setbacks, and in some areas, around 15 metre set backs- 3 to 5 times more than required. This will allow for koala tree planting and a better chance to re-establish a koala corridor. We will also gain a large public space along this foreshore that will allow for playing, hanging out and meeting friends. This too, is not required, but gained due to courageous negotiations.

We want a decent, upgraded public boat launching ramp that has decent parking and doesn’t make the public enter the park and request permission to use it. We will gain this. We will get an upgraded ramp, with plenty of parking and separation from the park.

So- when considering the two main community demands for the Ferry-unfettered public access along the foreshore and a decent, restored and formal boat ramp- we will achieve these.

Massey Greene. 

Like Ferry, we want public access along the foreshore and again, we want it unfettered of tent pegs, sprawling campsites and from feeling we are encroaching on visitors set ups. Instead of the required 3 metre setbacks, we will achieve 10 metre setbacks.  We want Lot 7005 to be for public use. We will achieve this in part, but the gains are better than hoped. Though we won’t get all of this disputed lot for public use, (traditionally used for informal car parking at peak times), we will get a section of it, and in this section, NCHP will create a formal carpark and children playground-both for the public. Thus, though we wont own it, NCHP will provide public uses that saves Council having to pay for and will provide a great public benefit. On balance, I believe this is a reasonable outcome. We will also gain other benefits: a small craft launching ramp will be upgraded and car parking for public use provided. The boat craft that used to block access to the river will be formalised to one side, opening up the Massey Beach once more. Also, the area along the old Tweed st area, next to the Mexican restaurant will finally go back to become a public thoroughfare, landscaped, free of cars and leading directly to the river.

So- when considering the three main community demands for Massey Greene-unfettered public access along the foreshore, a decent, restored and formal boat ramp and public use of Lot 7005- we will achieve most of these.

The Terrace. 

Like Ferry and Massey Greene, we want public access along the foreshore. And we want it unfettered of permanent residents encroachment and from feeling we are encroaching on visitors’ set ups by having to walk through a camp ground to access town or Simpsons creek. We also want the Cypress Pines, planted as memorials to our fallen Brunswick Heads pioneer young men who fell in WW1.

Here, we have some more work to do, but are very close to gaining what we want. We will most likely achieve the 10 metre set back, either along the whole stretch, or the vast majority of it. We will ensure an ecologist report pre-empts any decision as to how best protect the pines, and are hopeful that the proposed 5 protective zone around each cypress pine will help make this happen. We will ensure that more conversations occur between adjacent neighbours, permanent residents, council and NCHP, and an ecologist who will work towards the best way to ensure the sustainability of permanents, and the pines. We can also achieve 10 metre setback- instead of the required 3 metre setbacks.

And finally, being brave enough to negotiate in good faith within the unfair rules of the game before us can gain us all the benefits in Torakina, the Soundshell area, erosion management and creek management and the stretch all the way to the Bowling club, as all these areas are managed by NCHP. Already our ability and courage to negotiate has resulted in the proposed carpark and resultant tree loss at Torakina scrapped. It has also resulted in the proposed and highly unpopular boardwalk new the kids playground scrapped.

The new motion before us moves us closer to a great outcome for the community- including affected neighbours and permanent residents.

Moving forward does not mean we forget or underplay both the struggles endured and injustice suffered. We have been dudded by successive state governments. Both Labor and the Libs/Nats have systematically, deliberately and ruthlessly taken ownership of these areas from council and we have been scrambling to be heard ever since.  I thank all the community members who have fought this fight, for the only reason we are now set to gain more than we would have normally is because we demanded a decent deal solidly and consistently. However, we won’t get everything we deserve. We won’t get our parks back into council hands, we won’t get the old time camping holiday park style back and we won’t ever get acknowledgement of the injustice we suffered.

This is a legacy issue not created by this council, or even the last two councils, but this council finally has the opportunity to get more for the community than is required to be given by the parks operators. This council can establish an ongoing relationship with the operators to bring benefits for not just the parks, but all the river and creek side areas along Brunswick Heads.

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