Council queries harbour funding

Colac Otway Shire Council wants to know if the State Government will help pay for Apollo Bay Harbour work.

CIVIC leaders have called on the State Government to reveal whether it will pay for an Apollo Bay harbour redevelopment without private investment.

Colac Otway Shire Council is unsure if the State Government will help fund its proposed redevelopment if a private investor is not part of the precinct.

The precinct could include a hotel, swimming pool, shops, restaurants, a new sailing club and an indigenous interpretation centre.

Mayor Brian Crook said the council had heard private investment might be necessary for government approval of the harbour redevelopment’s planning scheme amendment.

“We’ve been told verbally that there has to be some private investment down there to warrant the public investment in the harbour in terms of some of the upgrades there,” Cr Crook said.

Cr Stephen Hart proposed at last week’s council meeting that the council seek written confirmation from the State Government as to whether it needed private investment for the plans to go ahead.

Cr Hart said seeking confirmation would delay the amendment’s progress, but he said it was “the price you pay for democracy”.

“A PSA would take up to two years to complete and a delay of one or two months should not be a problem,” he said.

The council approved Cr Hart’s proposal five votes to two, with Cr Crook and Cr Frank Buchanan the only objectors.

Redevelopment objector and Otway Forum spokesman Peter Fillmore said the result was a minor victory.

But Mr Fillmore said he was concerned the council was ignoring residents’ concerns after a phone survey revealed two thirds of Apollo Bay property owners supported the master plan for the redevelopment.

Of the 300 respondents, 62 per cent were non-residential ratepayers and 37 per cent lived in the town.

The respondents were evenly split, 45 per cent apiece, on whether they would prefer the project to go ahead with privately-owned facilities.

Mr Fillmore said he questioned the survey’s legitimacy.

“The telephone survey of 300 ratepayers was a highly contrived exercise in push polling, which relied on hypothetical assumptions and resulted in contradictory figures,” Mr Fillmore said.

“It still showed a hung result with 45 per cent for and against a resort-based redevelopment.

“The option to have a redevelopment of the Apollo Bay harbour, without a resort was not put to the residents and ratepayers,” he said.

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