Coffs Harbour City City Council's Director of Sustainable Infrastructure Mick Raby says the whale trail grant was given based on the car park and path upgrades.
Coffs Harbour City City Council's Director of Sustainable Infrastructure Mick Raby says the whale trail grant was given based on the car park and path upgrades.

Whale trail funds: something fishy indeed says Council

There's "mischief making" going on in relation to claims about the allocation of funds for the long-anticipated whale trail at Woolgoolga, says a Council director.

A $1.1m Federal Government grant has been allocated to the project which will see the construction of a whale-watching trail linking Woolgoolga Beach Reserve with the Solitary Island Walk and the headland.

Crs Tegan Swan and Mayor Denise Knight and Kevin Hogan MP announced $1.1m grant for the Whale Trail in April 2019.
Crs Tegan Swan and Mayor Denise Knight and Kevin Hogan MP announced $1.1m grant for the Whale Trail in April 2019.

A group of locals say Council should not be using these funds to build a footpath and car park in Pollock Esplanade.

But Coffs Harbour City Council's Director of Sustainable Infrastructure Mick Raby says two upgraded carparks were part of the original project grant submission to the Federal Government and have been funded on that basis.

"The project simply doesn't work without them and furthermore both these community and business groups are aware of that fact. They have been fully briefed," Mr Raby said.

"In addition to the Federal Government grant of $1.1 million, Council is putting in just over $142,000 to contribute to road widening."

The Northern Beaches Residents Association (NBRA) and Woolgoolga and Northern Beaches Chamber of Commerce have both raised concerns about the project.

"It appears for whatever reason this is a bit of mischief making and indeed fishy," Mr Raby said.

Concept designs for the $1.1m Woolgoolga Whale Trail. Coffs Harbour City Council.
Concept designs for the $1.1m Woolgoolga Whale Trail. Coffs Harbour City Council.

Council is currently calling for feedback on the proposal on its 'Have Your Say' online portal, posing three questions:

- Please provide your feedback on the Whale Trail concept plan

- Which pathway would you prefer? Along the car park or the grassed area?

- Where on the Whale Trail would you most like new seating?

The NBRA and local chamber of commerce say safety is the critical issue at the Carrington and Pollack St junction and that the walkway should go through the vegetation for a short distance to ensure maximum pedestrian safety.

They say the access pathway adjacent to the carpark on Pollack Street is Council responsibility and should not be funded from the Whale Trail grant.

They are also adamant that the trail continue around the grassed area at the edge of the headland and not the car park.

In 2015, the Federal Government's National Whale Trail initiative identified Woolgoolga Headland as a key site, one of only 11 in Australia.

The aim of this initiative is to develop a national whale watching network to encourage knowledge sharing among locals and visitors on the habits of migratory whales and coastal conservation.

Public submissions will be until January 29.

You can make a submission on Council's Have Your Say website.



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