Airlie Beach and Coastal Waters are Choking

The corals are dying and coastal waters suffer from diminishing visibility due to soil run-off, exacerbated by over-spraying of herbicides.  The council chops down shade trees and replaces a few of them with shrubs that die due to lack of regular watering.  Concrete is spreading like fungus and Airlie Beach is looking more like a glorified truck stop, with endless traffic spewing toxic fumes down the middle of its tourist precinct. 

Developers provide less than half the car parks required in the tourist precinct, so congestion will soon be gridlock.  Why would anyone want to come here with ugly high rise as well? 

Councillors’ Responsibility

Our councillors and town planning staff, as infrastructure managers of this tourist destination, have a duty of environmental and urban care.  They are required to be fully conversant with “Tourism Carrying Capacity” when considering development applications.

This is defined for areas that have aesthetic value by Middleton and Hawkins Chamberlain (1997) as the level of human activity an area can accommodate without the area deteriorating, the resident community being adversely affected or the quality of visitors’ experience declining..  

At this point the level of tourism is likely to decline, then jobs are lost, the resident population shrinks and bankruptcies increase.  Airlie has already suffered from too many badly planned developments.

How could our Council get it so Wrong?

Airlie does not have the miles of beaches, huge parklands and gardens associated with tourist destinations elsewhere.  In fact it does not have adequate infrastructure to cope with the many thousands of tourists that rampant high rise would require.  Airlie relies on low-key tropical ambience.

Despite repeated widespread condemnation, our councillors welcome high rise for unsustainable tourist accommodation and to provide job opportunities, not so much for locals, but for high rise crews from down south and low-paid itinerant service staff.  They risk destroying the very essence of Airlie by replacing ambience with ugliness, as high rise spreads over the acres of land waiting to be developed. 

Our council even donates public land and subsidises the building and infrastructure costs from our rates, with profits leaving town – or even Australia.

Democracy Stifled by Council

The public have had no opportunity of a “Your Say” page on these projects at the council’s website.  There is no public debate.  The deputy mayor intimates that he will push for high rise regardless.  Petitions are rejected.  Letters of objection must be in a technical format that lay people cannot comprehend.  Assisting people with pre-printed letters of submission for them to sign is rejected by council as coercion. 

This pre-determined resolve and dismissive behaviour of council is democratic injustice.

This is the Last Chance we have

Developers must be made to realise that they cannot keep trying to increase the heights on their development applications, simply to improve the value of their properties.  This delays for years the opportunity to get on with building to appropriate heights. 

The effects of this stagnation are widespread.  Many over ambitious projects have failed leaving bankruptcies.  We need appropriate development now, lead by a council that understands tourism carrying capacities and the serious risks caused by rampant high rise.

People come here to get away from high rise and toxic traffic, so our council must work on that and make it better.  Greenspace before greed.  Quality before quantity. 

Build on our tropical ambience – not innumerable pigeon holes for budget tourists.  Stop polluting coastal waters.  Plant shade trees and tropical vegetation.  Create more and better parks and gardens, linked by walking trails.  Re-route non-essential traffic around the bypass, that was built to allow Airlie to breathe from a shared zone down Main St and Airlie Esplanade. 

Everybody can see this, except the developers and our council.  I wonder why?

Photographs depicted are artists’ impressions from development applications.   They may be built even higher and uglier.