Wednesday 16 July 2008

Deputy Mayor signs

The Deputy Mayor of the Cairns Regional Council, Margaret Cochrane, took time out to visit the Cairns Show yesterday.

Margaret was also keen to sign the petition to preserve the historic Yacht Club.

"Of course I'll sign it," she said positively.

Last week all Cairns Regional Councillors, along with the endorsement of the Mayor, voted unanimously to urgently engage the State Government in the issue, with the objective to find a better outcome for the community than what is planned by the Cairns Port Authority. A telephone call to the Mayor's office yesterday afternoon, failed to get a response about what action has been undertaken to date.

The Port Authority aims to demolish the 100 year old Cairns iconic waterfront building in late September, for what is believed to be a residential apartment highrise of up to 20 stories. They have been less than forthcoming with plans for the land and have never responded to any requests for information from those objecting to the impending destruction. The area known as 'precinct 7' on the CityPort Masterplan, is unclear what is planned to replace where the Yacht Club building stands.

"We own this building, not this corporation," says Rob Williams, president of the Dixie Jazz band that has played at the Yacht Club for many years. "This belongs to the Cairns community. There's thousands of stories and important events connected to this property. Residents all over Queensland are horrified at what is going on here," says Rob Williams.

A theme of the day was how culturally significant the building is to the community, especially to Queensland's colonial , wartime and social growth since 1895. Many of those signing the petition at the Cairns Show, recounted stories of their association with the Yacht Club, or the 'Aquatic', as she was known for many years.

"There's a story that many who live around here met, and some no doubt were conceived on that beach in front of the Yachtie," said Mary of Gordonvale.

"I remember dad sailing up the coast from Brisbane when I was 7 years old, and the first stop would be the Yacht Club for a drink when we arrived," said Johnny Bain from the Tablelands.

Many others remembered the regular dances, weddings and the hundreds of bands that often were born and nurtured at the Yacht Club.

"It was a breeding ground for muso's from the 1920's," says Rob Williams, who helped publish 'At the Aquatic' a 90 year history booklet last year, focusing on the social entertainment of the Yacht Club.

"It has hundreds of photos in it of those that danced and played in bands since the very early days," he says. "This is no ordinary old building. It is something that this government needs to appreciate that played an extremely significant role and many thousands are connected to it who still live here."

With a recent push to revitalise the inner-city with entertainment following the advent of PALM Cairns - People Advocating Live Music, the Yacht Club is a venue that fulfils a valuable role to facilitate live performance and music. Local politicians, like the Member for Barron River Steve Wettenhall, who loudly championed the ideas of PALM, need to get behind this campaign.

More than 600 signatures were collected on the first day of the Cairns Show, and another 200 via the Online government site. There was wide community anger and sadness expressed from residents as they remembered their connection with the historic building over the last 50 years.

"If this building was in any other place in Cairns, say Portsmith, Bungalow, or Manunda, we wouldn't be fighting this fight," says local historian Dr Tim Bottoms. "Therefore it shows you that this is simply about making money. Nothing else"

"Why can't they simply gift this tiny parcel of land to the community," said local Susan Russell. "They have a mass of land down there they can use for residential apartments. A re-vitalised Yacht Club would be magnificent there as the area is developed. It would be a real community venue for everyone. I think it's just greed on their part," she said.


Anonymous said...

I am extremely disappointed that Val Shiers has not publicly made her stand known. THere is something stomach cringing about a public figure who waits to see which way the wind is blowing before asserting an opinion.

Anonymous said...

My name is Krystyn James from the Office of Mayor Val Schier

No telephone call, message, email or other contact was made with the Mayor's Office to discuss this matter by you this week or at any other time. Mike, you know that if you contact the Mayor's Office I always respond in a timely, courteous and efficient manner. I would like you to apologise for your misleading comments.

Michael P Moore said...

Michael P Moore said...
Krystyn, one of the members of the PADYC campaign group informed me that they did call, the line at the Mayor's office was busy as asked what was presumed to be the main reception, and left the question there. Appologies if the question and caller's number etc didn't get through to your office.

Anyway, Val and I exchanged emails yesterday wherein I thanked her for her part in leading a different charge in Council on this matter. It is without doubt that this assisted to get the Premier to act on Thursday to seek a review from her Minister. After 5 years, the Council are starting to listen to the majority of the community on this matter.

Anonymous said...

I, too signed the petition at The Cairns Show yesterday. Never doubt it, this issue is a litmus test for Val Shier and her Council.