Redlands mayor Karen Williams has rubbished suggestions the Olympic whitewater centre earmarked for Birkdale will become a “white elephant” after the Games and has backed the venue to anchor council’s 62-hectare Birkdale Community Precinct (BCP).
Cr Williams told Redland City News she was confident the whitewater venue would succeed and said it was currently the most likely place within the BCP that council could generate revenue.
She also defended council’s decision to rebrand the facility as the Redland Resilience Training Centre, saying the move would help create further partnerships with stakeholders and enhance the venue’s legacy opportunities.
The state and federal governments have committed funding to build the whitewater facility, but Redland City Council will be responsible for its ongoing maintenance.
A council report published alongside the BCP Master Plan says there is “well-defined need and demand” for both the whitewater centre and Redlands Resilience Training Centre, and due diligence indicates all elements “can and will operate at a breakeven or profit generating level” upon delivery.
Cr Williams said the centre was “the most likely place where we will be able to generate revenue”, but also reiterated that a large part of the plan for attracting an Olympic venue to Redlands was to kick-start vital infrastructure upgrades.
“Based on the information we’ve been provided, a lot of it [the profitability] will rely on what the state decides as far as what the whitewater facility looks like,” she said.
“We’ve got the disaster management element, the urban channel, which is really important.
She said the south-east Queensland climate meant the Redlands whitewater centre would operate differently to the venue built for the 2000 Sydney Olympics at Penrith.
“It is an hour out of Sydney and it’s in a climate that doesn’t allow it to open for three months of the year, so our location and climate – and the associated uses that we’ve got around that – is what will make it successful,” Cr Williams said.
“If you were to put it there on its own, then sure [it would be challenging]. But it’s much broader than that – it’s the whole precinct.
“They will actually feed off each other as far as supporting the business case for the training and resilience centre and whitewater centre.
“From the beginning, we were working with QFES because we knew they needed a facility like that, so they’ve had input into what we’ve currently put forward as a design.”