Protections for popular coastal reserve

Port Cartwright from the air.

A popular coastal reserve that attracts thousands of people a day will be managed and enhanced to ensure it can cope with its soaring popularity following an August Sunshine Coast Council meeting.

The Council endorsed the Point Cartwright Reserve and La Balsa Park Master Plan after working closely with the community and independent specialists.

They have endorsed a vision for the area, one they believe is much needed and will guide and shape it until 2041 and beyond.

Sunshine Coast Council Division 4 Councillor Joe Natoli said Point Cartwright Reserve and La Balsa Park were growing in popularity, which is why change was required.

“We’ve learned so much since this project started – the Nudibranchs, the Littoral Rainforest, the shorebirds and the cultural heritage sites,” Cr Natoli said.

“It’s truly a unique and special place rich in values and it’s not surprising its popularity is growing.

“Our community through the Environment and Liveability Strategy as well as annual surveying constantly rate our natural environment as its highest priority.

“Council has an obligation to put best-practice management procedures in place to care and protect these values while improving the experience and accessibility of this beautiful place.

“This master plan is Council’s response to that, and I believe we’ve found the right balance in ensuring this is a site enjoyed for many future generations.

“I’m pleased to see my fellow councillors endorse this plan, which has been extensively shaped by community feedback since 2021.

“The majority of feedback showed most people want to preserve or enhance what they already appreciate rather than wanting infrastructure change in the area, and that’s exactly what this master plan contains.”

The plan outlines improvements to pathway networks, upgraded picnic furniture and playgrounds, more shade and landscaping, realigned parking, and viewing platforms.

The key features of the plan are:

Enhanced community safety – ensuring a safer public realm for all to enjoy

Enhanced environmental protection – for areas of significant habitat and sites of significant cultural heritage value identified by our First Nations People.

Enhanced accessibility and recreational opportunities – improved pathway network (wider paths, improved surfaces, improved alignment).

Improved facilities – upgraded park furniture, equipment, improved barbeques and shelters.

More shade – for pathways, furniture, playground, picnic areas.

Playground improvements – including interpretive/educational elements and increased play value.

More interpretive and educational elements – for nature based passive recreation and cultural heritage appreciation

Sustainable pet access – by retaining pet access in the reserve and park (on-leash) without time restrictions and prohibiting pet access to areas of the reserve and park of profound environmental significance. *Note these changes are subject to the local law amendment process and will be subject to a separate community engagement process later this year.

Changes to master plan since engagement

Two key actions and amendments from the community engagement between June and July 2023, showed strong support to remove the proposed dog off-leash extension on the eastern beach due to significant turtle nesting habitat.

Council has also extended the dog on-leash access on the north facing path to ensure an accessible loop and path network.

In addition to this, the barge landing was relocated to mitigate impact on nudibranch habitat and a popular diving site.

Cr Natoli said the plan had achieved a delicate balance between the needs of all user groups, recreational uses, and protecting the environment.

“For this reason, the master plan has provided recommendations to ensure sustainable pet access to ensure the protection of our environment,” Cr Natoli said.

“This was not a light decision and has been vigorously debated to ensure our community, our council staff and our environment are protected.

“The changes to pet access are subject to the local law amendment process and our community will be able to provide further feedback in a separate community engagement process later this year.”

For more information about the master plan, please visit council’s website.

For a full list of engagement activities and amendments please visit Council’s Have Your Say website.

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