Major projects department to deliver Redland City Council’s economic vision

Redland City Council says it will establish a new department “dedicated to advocating for and delivering major projects for the city”.

Mayor Karen Williams said the time was right for this operational change within Council.

“The new department will lead and manage the coordination of strategic and major projects, ensuring Council is well equipped to meet future demands and deliver on the economic development vision for Redlands Coast” she said.

Creation of this department will include a new position of General Manager, Advocacy, Major Projects and Economic Development.

This could be a good idea says Redlands2030

With the right person appointed to this new role, the Council’s performance in promoting economic development should be much improved.

Over the past decade, while Karen Williams has been Mayor, many of the Council’s efforts have fizzled, floundered or flopped while provoking community outrage.

Here are some examples.

Capalaba State College Market

Capalaba State College Market traffic in 2014

In 2014 the popular Chandler markets, needing a new home, were relocated to Capalaba State College.

Mayor Williams played a “crucial role” in bringing the markets to Redlands the Redland City Bulletin reported.

Koala trees were felled, bitumen was laid and power was installed. The markets got under way with a temporary permit until a development approval was granted by the Council.

Locals were dismayed by the enormous increase in vehicle traffic on market day, as discussed in Redlands2030’s story: Capalaba State College Market

Within a few months, the markets closed down.

Chefs Inc debacle

Major projects such as Chef's Inc. have been poorly handled by Redland City Council.
Closed for winter in June 2019

Another market failure occurred when the Council thought it would be a good idea for a food market to operate in the car park behind the Cleveland Library.

After operating its food market in the Cleveland Library car park for just 15 weekends, Chefs Inc. folded owing 28 creditors an estimated total of $753,578.

The story of this dud project is told in: Open for business closed for winter: Chefs Inc.

Holey Moley

Major projects like Holey Moley have provoked community outrage.
Holey Moley film set under construction in Thornlands

Someone in the Council thought it would be wonderful to have a golf game show filmed in the Redlands, on a site next to the animal pound where wallabies roamed.

A three year lease was signed secretively, koala trees were felled and equipment installed.

Yet again, the Council repurposed public land without community engagement.

Redlands2030 broke the news in: Holey Moley TV game show to be filmed in Redlands

For a couple of weeks in 2020, local residents in Thornlands were kept up all night (until 4:00am) by loud noise during film production of Holey Moley in front of a live audience.

Local residents petitioned Redland City Council to find a new film site.

The show was not a great ratings success and it did very little to promote Redland City.

Priority Development Areas

Mayor Karen Williams signing PDA agreements for major projects in 2014
Mayor Karen Williams signing PDA agreements in 2014

In June 2013 Mayor Williams said development would be fast-tracked at Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek following the State LNP Government’s declaration of priority development areas (PDA).

The Council and State Government made Walker Group the preferred developer for the Weinam Creek PDA in 2014. But in 2018 the Council announced that Walker Group would not be involved and that the Council would “step in” to develop the precinct.

Since then, the Council has bought land and built a car park – things which it could have done without a PDA being declared.

A master plan for development has been approved by the State Government and the State Government is developing a ‘satellite hospital’ in the area.

Nothing has happened in the Toondah Harbour PDA where preferred developer Walker Group is proposing to build 3,600 apartments on Ramsar wetlands.

More than 48,000 people, so far, have signed a petition opposing the project.

Cleveland surf life saving centre

The proposed surf life saving centre of excellence in Cleveland – RCC news release

Before the 2016 local council elections, Redland City Council was fascinated by the idea that other levels of government would jointly drop $60 million on the table for a surf life saving centre of excellence at the Cleveland Aquatic Centre.

No grants were offered, so in July 2019 Surf Life Saving Queensland killed the deal.

Olympic dreams

Community consultation about Birkdale Community Precinct in April 2021 - but major projects such as a white water sports facility were not mentioned.
Dotmocracy consultation about future uses of Birkdale Community Precinct

Redland City Council then announced that it was investigating plans for an Olympic standard whitewater rafting and kayaking facility.

A confidential business case (including financial
feasibility study and economic impact assessment) and a desktop site assessment were endorsed by Council on 18 December 2019.

This resulted in the Birkdale Community Precinct being earmarked as the preferred canoe slalom venue for the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

When the community was finally consulted about options for future use of the Birkdale precinct in April 2021 there was little support for the Council’s Olympic dreams. Most respondents said they want the site’s environment and heritage values respected.

Doing major projects better

All too often Redland City Council’s economic development initiatives over the past decade could only be explained by what’s known as the streaker’s defence: “it seemed like a good idea at the time”.

It’s likely that the Council’s poor performance has root causes such as:

  • Objectives not established, clearly;
  • Costs and benefits not evaluated, properly;
  • Due diligence not undertaken, thoroughly; and
  • Community engagement not done, genuinely.

If the new General Manager can lift the Council’s game in these areas, then Redland City’s residents and ratepayers may get some real benefits from chasing major projects.

The new General Manager could usefully start work with a report to Council about learning from past mistakes.

Confidential officers’ report now publicly available

The decision to set up the new department was made, without discussion, at the Council meeting on 16 February 2022.

A resolution to include a new General Manager, Advocacy, Major Projects and Economic Development as part of the Council’s Executive Leadership Team was passed 9/2 with crs Wendy Boglary and Paul Bishop dissenting.

Council also decided to make the previously confidential officers’ report publicly available as soon as practicable. This report (Item 19.1) is in the meeting minutes.

General Manager Advocacy, Major Projects & Economic Development will report to the CEO

Redland Investment Corporation

It’s not clear at this stage what the Council will be doing with its property company the Redland Investment Corporation.

“This new structure recognises the importance of the city shaping projects being managed by Redlands Investment Corporation as a partner for selected strategic projects” said Mayor Williams in the Council’s announcement.

A loss of $228,244 was reported by Redland Investment Corporation for the 2020/21 financial year according to documents published by Redland City Council, recently.

Redlands2030 – 20 February 2022

0 thoughts on “Major projects department to deliver Redland City Council’s economic vision”

  1. Sadly the mindset is development and more development you would think they leant their lesson setting up Redland Investment Corp and the over $1million cost a year staffing it and in many years made a loss. If only Mayor Williams realised that many who come for the Olympics also come to enjoy our environment and native wildlife. Trashy Toondah Harbour will be nothing more than a blot on our beautiful coastline and views across the Bay. As I took many overseas tourist across the bay to Straddie i explained the plan to destroy our Marine Park and not one could believe the poor decision by all levels of government.

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