Council campaign for Inland Rail Trail has gone off track
NORTH Burnett Regional Council has stepped away from its financial involvement in the preservation of a disused rail corridor between Gayndah and Taragoola in a twist that could see the tourism project come to a screeching halt.
Gladstone Region councillors were informed at Tuesday's general council meeting that "North Burnett Regional Council will only proceed on a cost-neutral basis and won't be providing any ongoing financial or human resources for the project".
The implication of North Burnett Regional Council's disinterest in the project is likely to come to a head today when the Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail group holds its monthly meeting at the Ubobo Discovery Centre from 10am.
One item definitely on the group's agenda today is its move to become an incorporated body - a move that will see Cr Desley O'Grady step down as group chair to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Cr O'Grady had previously been Gladstone Regional Council's representative at the monthly meetings.
As it currently stands, ownership of the rail corridor would remain with the Department of Transport and Main Roads, however, all responsibilities regarding maintenance, management and public liability would become council's responsibility if it entered into a lease.
Any potential lease would be dependant on the undertaking of a $100,000 feasibility study funded by the State Government's Queensland Cycling Action Plan with GRC footing any costs exceeding that figure.
Cr Goodluck said during Tuesday's meeting the latest development had raised some "red flags" for him, as it differed from the three resolutions agreed on through a notice of motion at a previous council meeting on March 20.
He was one of many councillors concerned with NBRC's perceived lack of interest.
"If we look at the initial notice of motion, Point 1 says GRC would join with North Burnett Regional Council," Cr Goodluck said.
"The fact that we already had North Burnett on the journey was a reason for myself, and I'm sure other councillors, being in favour for it.
"Now that they've pulled out... Point 3 - which I was strongly in favour of - was that GRC supports the ownership of the assets remaining with DTMR and it not become the burden of ratepayers and it's clear to me that's now not possible.
"So there's two out of the three and that basically undermines the intent from myself when I supported that notice of motion.
"I also remember a meeting we had here between North Burnett Regional Council representatives and some of DTMR reps... It was quite clear to me from that meeting that DTMR was very intent on offloading that liability to council.
"I think that needs to be taken into consideration with how we progress in this matter. If we progress with the feasibility study we need to accept this is a project that council is going to take ownership of, or we need to decide here and now that this isn't something the ratepayers of our region need to foot the bill for."
Gladstone Region councillors decided to defer the matter until its next meeting on June 19 so attendees at today's Ubobo meeting could be informed regarding the latest developments.
"From my view we should only be looking at a feasibility study for our region and not to Gayndah," Cr Goodluck said.
"That's going to have an impact on the outcomes the Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail group are seeking so we need to talk to them about what their expectations are now that North Burnett isn't interested."