Bringing visitors back to the CBD a major focus of this year’s Cairns Regional Council budget
A new City Place Manager charged with overseeing a renewed push to attract people to the CBD will be employed by Cairns Regional Council.
It’s one of several measures aimed at ‘activating’ the city centre, as outlined in the 2019/20 budget handed down this morning.
Mayor Bob Manning said increasing visitation to the CBD is the Council’s top priority.
“We have responded to traders' concerns,” he said.
“Council has set aside funds in this budget for an activation program for the CBD and for the appointment of a CBD Place Manager to proactively work with traders and other stakeholders.”
Major CBD projects partially funded under the budget include the Esplanade Dining Precinct, which will receive $3 million this year and a further $13.5 million next financial year.
The Court House refurbishment will be funded to a tune of $3.6 million dollars, while an upgrade of Florence Street to connect the CBD to the Cairns Performing Arts Centre and Munro Martin Parklands will receive $10 million in funding.
The Mayor said the works will be carefully planned to minimise pain during construction.
“Council will need to manage and progress these works in close consultation with various businesses and other stakeholders so as to minimise any disruption to business operations,” Cr Manning said.
The Mayor also pointed out the Council’s re-introduction of free Sunday parking in the CBD is helping attract weekend shoppers, but also announced parking costs will now rise by 20 cents per hour to help pay for a new parking station in Cairns North.
The Council also didn’t increase its tourism promotion spending, however Cr Manning acknowledged the impact a downturn in tourism has had on CBD traders.
“What we really need is a half a billion more legs traversing the CBD, in other words, we need to boost tourism numbers,” he said.
“We are all acutely aware of the challenges currently confronting regional tourism in Queensland and which has been exacerbated by concerns about climate change and its effects on the reef.
“In recognition that tourism is the driving force behind the Cairns economy, Council has again allocated 3.4 million to fund tourism promotion.”
Council’s also set aside $850 thousand to support events, including Targa Great Barrier Reef, Chinese New Year and the Cairns Ironman.
Cr Manning also called on the other two tiers of Government to take more responsibility for tourism development.
“There’s a growing need for State and Federal Governments to reconnect to regional tourism,” he said.
“A successful future for Queensland tourism rests with the development of regional Queensland product and its rich diversity including the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics and the Outback.
“To not do this would well hold back the development of Cairns and north Queensland in regard to investment, jobs, population retention and opportunities.”
RATES, CHARGES AND FEES
- 70% of ratepayers can expect a rate increase of 1.5%, down from a 1.7% last year to counteract the State Government’s land value increases.
- Sewerage, cleansing and water access charges will also rise by 1.5% while residential water use charges will rise by $1.21 per kilolitre.
- Parking costs per hour will rise by 20 cents.
- The business waste levy (a State Government initiative) is now in effect, starting at $75 per tonne.