MONEY from the sale of Sunshine Coast Council land will be reserved to help bring a convention and exhibition centre to the new Maroochydore CBD.
A new facility is expected to cost about $200 million and the council commitment is intended to encourage state and federal contributions.
The commitment was made in a confidential session of the most recent council meeting after a motion moved by Cr Jason O’Pray was successful with seven votes for and three against.
Mayor Mark Jamieson, Cr Tim Dwyer and Cr Peter Cox opposed the motion.
Cr O’Pray could not release details of the yet-to-be-sold property or how much money would be raised but said he thought making the financial commitment, on top of providing the land, was a positive step in achieving a suitable facility.
He said he took advice from council officers in making the plan.
“I had tossed and turned about this for quite some time when I knew we were selling land in Maroochydore,” Cr O’Pray said.
“My main reasoning for quarantining this money was because I’m absolutely certain we will need state and federal backing on this.
“It is really important to me to see the CBD has its own convention centre.”
He said securing a private backer would be “even better” than relying on government funding for the project.
“Council can clearly not afford that (cost) on its own.”
Cr Jamieson was contacted for comment but declined to publicly detail his reasons for opposing the motion, with a council spokesman saying the mayor did not disclose matters discussed in confidential session.
The spokesman said the council would contribute to a convention and exhibition facility by providing the land on which it was developed and in all likelihood, having to cover the ongoing annual maintenance and other costs.
“The ratepayers of many other regions across Queensland have not been required to contribute towards the cost of developing their convention and exhibition centres,” the spokesman said.
“The cost to construct such facilities in many of these locations has been borne by the State Government.”
He said a new functional brief and specifications for a new convention and exhibition centre had been completed.
Consulting firm PG International was engaged by the council in March last year to complete the work.
“The functional brief and specifications will inform the development of a business case and preliminary design, which will be done if and when, funding becomes available.”
A Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning spokesman said the department didn’t currently have any funding allocated for a convention and exhibition centre on the Coast.
However, he said the minister for the department and the former director-general wrote to all local governments on March 12 inviting submissions for the Maturing the Infrastructure Pipeline Program.
He said the grant program was available to all local governments through a competitive process to undertake strategic planning for infrastructure and develop business cases and detailed design.
Submissions close on April 9.
“Sunshine Coast Council could make a submission for potential assistance in developing its business case for this project,” the spokesman said.