Renee Cluff

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Dining precinct not included in Cairns Council’s project fast-track plan

Cairns Regional Council will take advantage of the quiet time in the CBD by bringing forward a range of construction and maintenance projects, but the Esplanade Dining Precinct has been excluded.

The city has resembled a ghost town since covid-19 movement restrictions were enforced last month.

Today, the new-look Council held its first general meeting since the recent Local Government elections and endorsed new initiatives to assist the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Businesses in Cairns are doing it extremely tough right now,” re-elected Mayor Bob Manning said.

“Rather than being a busy time for us with visitors bustling along our footpaths and filling our shops, our city is almost completely devoid of activity.

“The initiatives Council has endorsed today will help to keep businesses open today, and provide a foundation for when we come out the other side of this crisis.”

Projects to be fast tracked include:

• The building of a rock wall minimise erosion on the Esplanade
• Renewal of the plaza area between the Lagoon and the Esplanade
• Renewal of footpaths on Abbott, Grafton and McLeod streets
• Replacement of commercial water metres and water main

Councillors did consider bringing forward the Esplanade Dining Precinct work but because the concept design hasn’t been approved and more consultation is needed, it was decided the project couldn’t proceed in the short-term.

The project is expected to cause significant disruptions to restaurants and hotels along the southern end of the Esplanade when construction begins.

Councillors also agreed to waive rental payments for lessees of Council-owned and/or managed facilities that have been negatively impacted by the crisis.

The fees will be waived from April 1 to June 30 in response to the Federal Government’s new mandatory code of leasing principles for small and medium businesses.

It was also revealed that the Council’s announcement in February of a three month extension for rates payments has left the organisation with an outstanding rates balance of $44 million, double the amount compared to this time last year.

The deadline for payments is next month.

In all, the coronavirus support measures are expected to leave Council with a shortfall of $20 million for this financial year.