Becoming Australia’s most sustainable region
  • Thursday 13 November 2014
environment levy

Delivering a new planning scheme, setting the scene for the new Maroochydore City Centre, attracting almost 500,000 people to performances and events at council venues and acquiring 400 ha of environmentally-significant land - these are just some of the highlights of the Sunshine Coast Council’s 2013-14 Annual Report adopted at today’s Ordinary Meeting.

Deputy Mayor Chris Thompson said council had worked hard to deliver schemes and programs which balanced building the economy with attracting investment, securing key infrastructure, protecting and enhancing the natural environment and delivering community services.

“It may have been one of the most challenging years in the Coast’s history due to de-amalgamation and an organisational re-structure, but with those challenges came a commitment to getting on with the job of becoming the most sustainable region in Australia – vibrant, green, diverse,” Cr Thompson said.

“Our quality of life is dependent on a strong economy and in 2013-14, Council launched the Regional Economic Development Strategy which plans for the next 20 years.

“To guide that strategy’s implementation and help transition to Sunshine Coast’s new economy, an Economic Futures Board was also established.

“Meanwhile, a new Sunshine Coast Events Board will promote the region as a perfect destination for events.”

Cr Thompson said council was committed to protecting and enhancing the quality of our environment for current and future generations.

Environmental highlights include reducing carbon emissions.Sunshine Coast Airport became the third major airport in Australia and the first in Queensland to be internationally recognised for mapping its carbon footprint and for its commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

“Council shortlisted submissions for the design, construction and operation and associated retail energy services for the proposed solar farm at Valdora which will save council many millions of dollars in the future,” Cr Thompson said.

“We also purchased land to protect the natural environment including sites at Verrierdale (252ha adjoining an existing nature reserve), Cambroon (27ha) and Ilkley (87ha).

“This Council has the largest Land for Wildlife program delivered by any local government in Australia, with more than 850 actively-engaged landholders and we are very proud of that achievement.

“The Pumicestone Passage and Catchment Management Plan was adopted and provides tailored management responses for these highly-valuable assets.

“Just as valuable, is a culture of innovation and creativity and we started on our own home-turf, reviewing council operations and practices to ensure the community received excellent service delivery.

“Significant improvements were made by centralising our customer and call centres and continuing to roll out field-based computers to allow staff to do ‘business on the go’.

“More than 20 art exhibitions were held across the region and council administered funds of $182,000, supporting projects of more than $1 million through the Regional Arts Development Fund.

“Our venues hosted more than 7000 performances and events, attracting almost 500,000 people and the Sunshine Coast Art Prize brought some of the best contemporary art to this region.

“The Caloundra Music Festival was attended by 25,000 people over four days and the event is now recognised nationally on the festival calendar.”

Accessibility and connection programs included investigating transport solutions through light rail, and committing $1 million to deliver initiatives such as FlexiLink and Council Cabs.

Council allocated $6.2 million towards streetscape enhancement across the region, including Beerwah, Palmwoods, Alexandra Headland and the Coastal Pathway.

Major capital works programs included allocating $47.7 million for transportation and projects at Coolum, Conondale, Nambour, Maroochydore, Landsborough and Kenilworth.

Planning and works were completed in parks across the region including Peregian Beach, Diddillibah and Mary Cairncross Reserve.

Other highlights during 2013-14 were in the areas of health and well-being with $14 million allocated to aquatic centres and sporting facilities; assisting community sporting groups obtain $1.2 million in grants; establishing an emergency Operations and Recovery Team; and major reforms in animal management including cat registration, dogs in outdoor dining areas and dog off-leash areas.

 “Managing growth on the Sunshine Coast positively contributes to the diverse lifestyle choices available to our community and is high on Council’s agenda,” Cr Thompson said.

“The Maroochydore City Centre Priority Development Area development scheme, to be delivered over the next 20 years,  was approved by the State Government.

“The Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme was launched and will provide the framework for economic development and prosperity within the region and provide for the right developments to take place in the right locations.

“To encourage growth, development and create employment opportunities, Council introduced free pre-lodgement meetings, capped development assessment fees, maintained and reduced fees for all commercial business and industrial land uses, and introduced the Build and Benefit Scheme which offers up to 50% reduction in infrastructure charges.

“Council also expanded the Fast Track Assessment Program to provide a consistent approach to progressing low-risk applications.

“But one of the achievements this council is most proud of is receiving an unqualified audit report for the fifth consecutive year.

“This is an outstanding result, given the accounting challenges associated with the former Caloundra, Maroochy and Noosa Council amalgamation and recent de-amalgamation.

“To continue to receive clean, unqualified audits, in this most recent year in particular, shows prudent financial management, aligning to council’s commitment to achieving a strong financial position.

“This in turn sets the platform to develop council’s long-term financial plans, to optimise resources and align with council’s strategic priorities.”

To review the full annual report, visit: http://bit.ly/1uour2X

 

Fast Facts - The major achievements for the year include:

Building economic sustainability

  • Capital works program to the value of $109 million
  • Launched Regional Economic Development Strategy 2013-2033
  • Launched a new planning scheme
  • Started works for building Maroochydore City Centre
  • Developed international relations with China and Japan
  • Process underway to establish a solar farm to supply council electricity
  • Expanded Air New Zealand flights to half-yearly seasons (from 2015)

 

Building environmental sustainability

  • Acquired almost 400 hectares of environmentally-significant land at a cost of approximately $5.7 million
  • Supported 26 not-for-profit community groups through the Community Environment Partnership Program
  • Established 15,000 native plants along Maroochydore/Alex Beach to rehabilitate the coastal dunes
  • Awarded more than 100 landholder environment grants to improve and protect environmental values on private properties
  • Commenced the largest fauna monitoring project to be undertaken in council’s environmental reserves to improve conservation management practices.

Building a sustainable community and lifestyle

  • Consolidated three customer contact call centre locations into one, with significant improvements in service
  • Major reforms to animal management: cat registration, dogs in outdoor dining areas, dog off-leash areas, and the drafting of a Domestic Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Strategy
  • The 2013-2014 Festive Season offered more than 80 family-friendly activities
  • Our venues played host to more than 7000 performances and events, attracting almost half-a-million people
  • Community Grants Program of $4.4 million provided to support community organisations