Magnetic Island North Queensland
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October 12th 2004
17,000 pop. top for Magnetic?

Magnetic Island's projected population level has been a hot topic for Island discussion and with more information coming to light, an Islander with a strong interest in the subject, Margy Gaynor, has learned of the existence of a Townsville City Council/Citiwater-commissioned report she believes will confirm some of the worst fears Islanders might have for population growth. Margy writes below:

It is unlikely that 19,000 (1994 Town plan) persons will live/stay on the island - ie the total population allowed by the island's current zoning. However, it is very likely we will have a population between 13,500 and 17,000 persons in the next decade or so, because this is what's being planned under our new town plan, City Plan (2003). This is clearly stated in a private engineering report by John Wilson & Partners Pty Ltd, which was quoted in a Citiwater submission to the Federal Governmenrt, about the probable population under our new town plan. The projections are further confirmed by the population the new sewerage treatment plants in Picnic and Horseshoe Bays are being designed for.

Horseshoe Bay is targeted to grow from 750 to at least 4,500 persons. The new sewerage treatment plant is designed for 2,600 persons in 2006, and 5,200 on demand after that. This is to support the new resort at Radical Bay (400 to 500 persons), and the rest in Horseshoe Bay - plus many day visitors! The Picnic Bay plant, now for 2,000 persons, will be expanded to 7,200 persons on demand. Vast areas will be needed for effluent irrigation, and ocean outfall is still possible.

It's a bit hard to imagine all this, because we now have only about 5,500 persons on the island (residents and tourists) at the height of the season, and lots of lowland bush. Council has repeatedly indicated that it supports a planning horizon of about 5,000 to 6,000 persons. Firstly in 1996, following extensive community consultation about sewerage infrastructure upgrade, and later in 1999 and 2003, in preparation for the new town plan, City Plan. Both of these processes involved island residents, and are documented.

However, the 2003 Wilson report has very different figures about the island's population, which were not made public for City Plan. And there has been no consultation with island residents about very expensive infrastructure, and the vastly increased population, which will produce higher annual charges, much higher density development in all of our bays, and lots of soggy irrigation paddocks instead of bush. Lots of new development is also in the planning and/or approval stages (about 3,400 new beds, mainly for tourism, at last count in June 2004).

If anyone has any queries about future population figures, please contact the Council via the CEO, Mr Brian Guthrie, or Councillor, Jenny Hill, or read the reports listed below, mostly available through the Council (phone 47279000). And if anyone can get a copy of the John Wilson 2003 report, please let me know ASAP.

Margy Gaynor
Environmental Coordinator
Heritage, Infrastructure and Planning Working Group
Magnetic Island Community Development Association
07 47581009.

To help readers gain their own insights into the leap in population now apparently in the pipelines Margy suggests the following sources - if you can get hold of them!

1.Magnetic Island Wastewater Strategy Planning Report, Townsville City Council, 1996 (in particular, see the final strategy and the recommendations, which were formally ratified by Council in 1996).

2.Townsville City Plan Statement of Proposals, Townsville City Council, 2003 (see Section 3.3.1: Infrastructure - Waste Water and Water Supply).

3.Magnetic Island Settlement Analysis and Context Report, Urbis (on behalf Townsville City Council), January 2003 (see Section 5.2 - Population and Growth Management).

4.Townville Draft City Plan (2003) - the Effects of the Ultimate Population of Magnetic Island and Implications for the Irrigation of Reclaimed Water, John Wilson & Partners Pty Ltd (on behalf Citiwater, Townsville City Council), October 2003.

5.Horseshoe Bay Sewerage Treatment Plant and Water Recycling Scheme Planning Report, GHD Pty Ltd (on behalf Citiwater, Townsville City Council), June 2004.

17,000 pop. top for Magnetic?
October 13th 2004
These numbers will come as quite a shock to all those people who still rely on the Census figures which tell us the resident population is about 2,500. It's hard to believe that there are about the same number of tourist beds already in existence - but just ask the people who change the sheets and you'll soon find out! About a year ago the breakdown of beds was as follows: Holiday houses rented through agents(750), Magnetic International(200), Tropical(120),Arkies(300),Maggies(120),Sails(60),Shaws(40),Tropical Palms(40),Dunoon(50),Coconuts(200),Geoffs(200),Travellers(150),Dandaloo(30),Magnetic Haven(50) TOTAL 2355. At the same time the planned developments including Bright Point, Nelly Bay Harbour, Picnic Bay pub units, Radical Bay and Arcadia Village totalled a further 2085 beds. Now add to that the day trippers - which can sometimes be more than a thousand (or even two thousand) each day and it's obvious that at certain times, maybe for short periods, the Island's "resident" population ie. the one that sewerage plants and water supplies are built for, is already way over 5,000 and quickly heading for 10,000. Each new planning approval is adding beds and demand for further infrastructure. Very soon these developments will be demanding newer, wider roads, more parking and more services. They will be delivered sure - but at public expense and with an environmental cost. The promises are being made now and the delivery is in the pipeline. We know what we've got and we'll miss it when it's gone. Ho hum.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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