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Councillors back push for Broadwater to be reclaimed to build Labrador foreshore park

Councillors are backing an investigation into a “Broadwaterway” which will see a new foreshore parkland to cater for the Gold Coast’s booming population.

The City’s Labrador foreshore investigation, these plans show potential work upgrading a boardwalk linked to Len Fox Park.

Councillors are backing an investigation into a “Broadwaterway” which will see a new foreshore parkland to cater for the Gold Coast’s booming population.

But their unanimous support — at a lifestyle committee meeting on Tuesday — occurred after Mayor Tom Tate stunned his colleagues by sending an overnight email urging caution.

The site to be investigated extends about 1.7km along the Marine Parade foreshore in Labrador, between Loders Creek and Harley Park Public Boat Ramp near Charis Seafoods.

Mr Tate said he was concerned the Gold Coast Waterways has specific policy which generally opposes land reclamation.

“So I’m concerned that we are proposing to spend $100,000 on further engineering and planning studies given the report indicates that land reclamation is the preferred option,” he wrote.

“I believe the GCWA Policy does outline that land reclamation can be considered in some specific circumstances, but in my view we should first be undertaking thorough consultation with GCWA to ensure any investment of ratepayers’ funds is well targeted and capable of leading to a successful outcome.”

Deputy Mayor Donna Gates also cautioned about ratepayers money “going down the gurgler”.

“I think the costs will be astronomical. I don’t think we will see this project any time soon,” she said.

But planning committee chair Cameron Caldwell supported area councillor Ryan Bayldon-Lumsden arguing “we can do better for the residents living in this area”.

Senior officers said it was a “transformational project” and “we are thinking 20 to 30 years ahead here”. The existing boardwalk as an asset was reaching end-of-life.

The five metre wide “Broadwaterway” would be surrounded by shaded trees and include a terraced boardwalk with waterfront views.

Councillors were unanimous at committee in backing $100,000 for a report on best options.

Save Our Broadwater leader Alan Rickard, when the idea was first floated in 2022 said reclamation was non-negotiable, given the Broadwater resembles a marine version of the M1.

But Cr Bayldon-Lumsden maintains “community infrastructure” allows for reclamation.

“This project is really needed. The area hasn’t had any embellishments since the early 1990s despite how much the suburb and surrounding areas has grown,” he said.

“The walkway there is packed, despite having obstacles, telegraph poles, edging hazards. During consultation this had universal support from residents and park users. I’ve never seen so much support for something before.”

A report backs land reclamation as the way to proceed due to lower costs. About $10m will be needed in the next decade for the project.

A technical group which undertook public consultation found the Labrador foreshore lacks green space, is very narrow in sections and creates safety issues for walkers and cyclists.

The three options investigated included:

* converting Marine Parade to one-way traffic flow (northbound) between Central Street and Labrador Boat Ramp to create more space – but this failed to address the lack of parkland.

* a boardwalk over the Broadwater which could provide a mix of open space amenity areas – however, it would require further environmental and engineering studies.

* the reclamation of land within the Broadwater providing an extra 1.6 hectares of additional waterfront open space – creating a new area of foreshore parkland at lower costs.

Officers warned acquiring more parkland is difficult and expensive along the coastal corridor.

“Pressures on existing parks will escalate with the South East Queensland Regional Plan and the City Plan indicating that 80 per cent of the city’s future population growth is forecast to occur in urban consolidation areas such as Labrador,” an officer’s report said.

Current development activity and high land prices limit the ability of council to buy land.

“Based on the 2041 population forecast, there will be a deficit of 23 hectares of district parks within the immediate Labrador catchment if the parks estate is not increased,” the report says.

“At this stage, land reclamation is the preferred option to progress as it responds to both the open space deficiency and active transport issues, however it does present the most engineering and environmental challenges of the three options.”

Author: Paul Weston

Originally Published in the Gold Coast Bulletin

9 May 2023