Bay island residents are calling for more parking at Weinam Creek, with the issue front of mind for many locals as the SMBI population climbs and activity ramps up inside the Priority Development Area.
Macleay Island resident Gayle Nemeth, who has lived on the islands for more than three decades, said the parking situation at Weinam Creek was creating anxiety for all island residents.
“I stood on the jetty a few months ago and counted the people coming off the boat to go to work, and I counted over 1300 people,” she said.
“This doesn’t line up with the amount of parking they have to offer at Weinam Creek.
“Nobody is able to get to the islands, including relatives, as they just cannot find a park.
“Even our doctors can’t make it to work because they can’t find a park, as well as school teachers who are ringing the headmaster for the same reasons.”
Ms Nemeth said islanders were concerned they would be trapped on the islands because the barges were not coping with the increase of people since COVID.
“The islanders are at the stage where they are not going to be pushed anymore,” she said.
“We feel isolated, cast adrift and ignored.”
She feared new development in the Weinam Creek Priority Development Area (PDA) would take away public parking and leave residents having to instead pay for parking through commercial operators.
“People come to the islands for the cheap land and the cheap homes, people cannot afford to pay for parking,” Ms Nemeth said.
A council spokeswoman said the delivery of more car parks for island commuters was a key element of the Weinam Creek PDA precinct development.
“Stage one, which was completed in October 2020, delivered more than 500 new parking spaces within the Moores Road car park,” she said.
Hundreds of residents attended meetings on Macleay and Russell islands in July to voice their concerns about parking at Weinam Creek.
Joanne Racine said the consequences were “brutal” for commuters who were unable to find a park.
“They have tow trucks dragging cars away, they are marking tyres, fining us and they have got the parking guy going around and around,” she said.
“People are freaking out because they know what is coming if they cannot find a park.”
Ms Racine said construction in the PDA had already impacted on parking availability.
“Our parking situation is already dire and what they are doing is taking away some of our only parking we used to have,” she said.
“We had people renting their backyards for parking, but these areas have gone due to construction and there is still more to go.”
A council spokeswoman said during the next construction stages, more than 140 car parks would be provided in a temporary car park on Banana Street.
The additional space is set to open in December, subject to approvals and weather constraints.
“The temporary car park will provide easy access to the ferry terminal and will also help lay the foundations for the future commercial precinct, where the multi-level car park will eventually be located,” she said.
“Council is committed to providing as much parking as possible while the project progresses, and further temporary car parks will be created to support future stages.”