Managing a much-loved area

Migratory Shorebird - Sooty Oystercatchers.

Hand-in-hand with the community, Sunshine Coast Council is looking to manage and enhance one of the region’s most loved areas, one that holds enormous environmental, recreational, and cultural heritage significance.

Council has been working closely with the community and independent specialists to gain ideas to guide the development of the draft Point Cartwright Reserve and La Balsa Park Master Plan. The draft master plan is a vision for the future, from now until year 2041.

Proposed improvements include: Enhanced community safety – ensuring a safer public realm for all to enjoy; sustainable pet access – by allowing dog on-leash areas, prohibiting dog access in some areas and allowing dog off-leash beach access; enhanced environmental protection – for areas of significant habitat or cultural heritage; enhanced accessibility and recreational opportunities – improved pathway network (wider paths, improved surface, improved alignment) for all ages and abilities; more interpretive and educational elements – for nature-based passive recreation and cultural heritage appreciation; Improved facilities – upgraded park furniture, equipment, improved barbeque and shelters; more shade – for pathways, furniture, playground, picnic areas; playground improvements – including interpretive/educational elements and increased play value.

Division four Councillor Joe Natoli said that due to the area’s significance, combined with the increasing popularity of the reserve, it was vital that a diverse range of community voices and independent experts helped shape its future.

“Commencing in 2021, Council sought extensive feedback from residents, community groups, businesses, experts and key stakeholders on their values and vision for the Point Cartwright Reserve and La Balsa Park area,” Cr Natoli said.

Environment and Liveability and Place Development and Design portfolios Councillor Peter Cox said in addition to the feedback, consideration had been given to the environmental protection of all flora and fauna, with special attention to some species such as the Nudibranch sea slug, nesting loggerhead turtles and endangered migratory shorebirds who call our Sunshine Coast home each summer.

“We also considered the numerous recreational activities the reserve and park area are used for and ensured the profound cultural heritage importance was taken into account,” Cr Cox said.

“The plan seeks to improve accessibility and recreational opportunities via wider paths and improved surfaces, deliver improved facilities like furniture and shelters, plus create more shade for all to enjoy.

“Another strong focus is making sure environmental protection is enhanced with additional trees and an increase of vegetation.

“We also want to create a sense of place for all who visit. More interpretive and educational elements will aid nature based passive recreation and cultural heritage appreciation.

“All these components have inspired and shaped the draft master plan, and we now want to find out if community aspirations have been captured and translated into the draft.”

Have your say

After translating your feedback into the draft master plan, Council is now asking the community to have your say by 2 July.

Cr Natoli said the draft master plan strived to strike a balance and a blending of views, ensuring environmental and cultural protection well into the future.

“Your feedback will help identify the community’s priorities, guiding future staging and funding opportunities for the project,” Cr Natoli said.

“I encourage our community to be part of Point Cartwright Reserve and La Balsa Park’s future. Go online and discover what we have learnt, explore the guiding strategies and proposed improvements and then tell us, via a survey, if the master plan will deliver on our agreed aim.”

The community can provide feedback by completing a short survey online at haveyoursay.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au until July 2. Following this consultation, the master plan will be finalised, and projects identified for future budget consideration and delivery.

Proposed changes to pet access

The draft master plan community engagement identified significant and opposing feedback about pet access (mainly dogs) in these areas. Some shared how much they enjoyed the reserve and park with their pets, while others had concerns about safety and the environmental impacts of pets, particularly on endangered migratory shorebirds and other vulnerable flora and fauna.

This feedback, along with specialist reports and Council’s civic responsibility to ensure a safe public place and environmental protection, means that some changes to pet access are proposed in this area. It is proposed that pet access remains available in the designated areas of the reserve and park at all times as long as they stay on-leash. Time restrictions will no longer apply.

New areas of environmental and cultural protection will be in place. These areas include the rocky foreshore, north facing beach, and vegetated areas and will be prohibited to pets.

These changes are subject to Council endorsing the draft master plan, followed by a local law amendment process which requires a separate community engagement process.

More information about the proposed changes to pet access is available on Council’s have your say webpage.

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