Recent instruction to remove a number of canoes from island sites on Karragarra, Macleay and Coochiemudlo has been likened to “destroying a men’s shed on water”.
Southern Moreton Bay Island Community Outriggers spokesman Peter Hayward said the advisory notices and abandoned vehicle stickers on six-man outrigger canoes had stirred the islanders who used the canoes for community use for more than a decade. There is one canoe on Karragarra, one on Macleay and two on Coochiemudlo.
“After enquiring why this had been issued after such a long time, we were simply told that this was public land and to move them. If not, they will be removed,” Mr Hayward said.
“Council gave no reason other than this, no meeting or anything to try and sort out an amicable and reasonable solution for us all.”
Mr Hayward said the canoes were left on small sections of land that he believed had no other use.
“No vegetation is harmed and we all look after and maintain the areas. The Karragarra site is also a designated Redland City Council canoe launch area,” he said.
“Hundreds of men, outrigger women, children, schools, visitors, indigenous and community groups have all had a paddle in these canoes over the years and every one of them returns with a smile on their face.”
Mr Hayward said he believed the use of the canoes promoted fun, fitness, friendship, mental and physical health.
“We have the Olympics coming and Redland City Council is trying to get an aquatic centre approved for paddling,” he said.
“Yet it is stopping our community from paddling. We don’t have a great deal of area and facilities for exercising on the islands, like the mainland, but we do have lots of water to use.”
Mr Hayward said the island paddlers had been offered support from residents, groups and businesses, including the ferry and RSL which used the canoes in ANZAC ceremonies.
He said discussions were also under way for the canoes to be painted with indigenous artwork as part of a youth project.
A Redland City Council spokesperson said the notices were a response to a number of recent customer complaints about watercraft being stored on public land and foreshores on Macleay, Karragarra and Coochiemudlo islands and a desire to see the area regenerated.
The spokesperson said a dragon boat stored on the Macleay Island foreshore had been removed by the owner, and council was currently investigating an outrigger stored on the Karragarra Island foreshore.
On Coochiemudlo Island, council will also be removing a small number of abandoned vessels and is working with island residents to encourage them to store watercraft on private property instead of along the foreshore.
The spokesperson said there were more than 40 water craft permanently stored in multiple sites on Coochiemudlo Island, occupying more than 60 metres of the foreshore, contributing to adverse foreshore erosion, impacting dune vegetation and presenting safety hazards to users of the foreshore.
Redland City Council is engaging with community stakeholders to explore potential solutions, with recognition that appropriate storage of outriggers and canoes/kayaks along the foreshore reflects its unique 335km Redlands Coast and a community keen to engage with this coastal lifestyle.