Capalaba MP Don Brown has urged his own government to hold off on building the Olympic whitewater centre at Birkdale until after next year’s council elections amid opposition to the facility from mayoral hopeful Jos Mitchell.
Mr Brown said he would work with Redland City Council on an alternative to the whitewater centre if Ms Mitchell was successful at the 2024 polls.
That is despite councillors voting 7-4 during a general meeting in March to adopt the Birkdale Community Precinct (BCP) Master Plan, which includes the Olympic whitewater facility.
Mr Brown said he would ask Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Planning Minister Steven Miles to hold off on the build until after the election – but the whitewater centre would still go ahead as planned if mayor Karen Williams was re-elected.
“It’s council’s land, so you would want full confidence about putting millions into infrastructure on that land,” Mr Brown said.
Plans for a whitewater centre in the BCP have been met with opposition from sections of the public who have questioned its ongoing financial viability and fear it will become a “white elephant” like some previous Olympic venues used for water sports.
Cr Williams declared in adopting the BCP Master Plan earlier this year that the precinct would become Queensland’s “best park” and said she hoped it could be the “ultimate example of Olympic legacy”.
The 62-hectare property off Old Cleveland Rd East will be transformed over two decades and include hubs for conservation, entertainment, innovation, culture, recreation and food.
Cr Rowanne McKenzie, who presented the final BCP plan at the March council meeting, has urged Ms Palaszczuk to honour the state government’s Delivery Partner Arrangement with Redland City Council.
She said there was strong support for a Recreation and Adventure Sports Hub in the BCP, with community engagement results showing almost 70 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with its inclusion.
“I urge you to honour the agreement that your government has entered into with Redland City Council and read for yourself the public engagement reports that show the overwhelming majority of respondents support the master plan for the Birkdale Community Precinct, which includes the Olympic facility,” Cr McKenzie said.
Mr Brown was confident the state government could manage any changes to the current plan but conceded it would add a level of complexity to arrangements with the International Olympic Committee.
“We have gone to the IOC with the master plan saying it will be there [at Birkdale], and they don’t really like any changes to that …,” he said.
“But not all the sports are settled until 2027 … so there is going to be changes required because we don’t know the final make-up of the sports anyway.”
Ms Mitchell said her opposition to the whitewater centre was based on community concerns that the facility would cause further costs to ratepayers.
She said other infrastructure needs in the Redlands should take priority over the whitewater centre and voiced concerns about a capital-intensive project being carried out while many residents were struggling through a cost-of-living crisis.
“The rise in just basic things like food, it’s all having an impact,” Ms Mitchell said.
“If you are paying rates, and even if you’re paying rent, it’s having a big impact on daily living costs.
“Some people are really struggling and you can see it, so it just seems ludicrous that we are talking about major projects when we’ve got basic livability issues.”
When asked about alternatives to building the centre at Birkdale, Mr Brown said one option was placing it on more suitable land within Redlands. “We know Logan put in for it as well, so I think it’s one of those things where we’ve got those years to cross that bridge when it comes to it,” he said.
“I can see the apprehension, especially from a candidate that doesn’t have the inside running on all the dollars and cents of it.”