December 11th 2008
"We don't need to wait to make a better Island"
The Nelly to Arcadia walkway, parking at Nelly Bay harbour, bus sizes and the possible lowering of the speed limit were the main discussion points of a meeting held last week between representatives of various Magnetic Island transport businesses, community organisations and the Deputy Mayor David Crisafulli.
The meeting came after the release of the Magnetic Island Land Transport Study - intended to improve and develop transport options over the next 20 years.
The study was conducted by the previous council in 2006, but not presented to the public until now. Yesterday we reproduced a TCC newsletter based on the community consultation and today we report some of the viewpoints held by those who attended the meeting - namely representatives of Island organisations and individuals who'd made submissions to the study.
Deputy Mayor, David Crisafulli, earlier described the report as, "warts and all" and, with findings such as, "no resident had a good word to say about the Nelly Bay terminal," one could hardly disagree.
Clearly there is much to the report and it was pointed out that the larger and longer term proposals will need to be incorporated into the Local Area Plan which will inform the next City Plan - two or more years away.
With a view to what is possible David Crisafulli told Magnetic Times, "that while there is grant money involved with a number of proposals there are things we can do to get the ball rolling."
On the "number one issue," the Nelly to Arcadia walkway, he said, "It gives us a great opportunity to go to government to say, 'Here you have a community behind a cause government can hang their hat on." Thinking in terms of an upcoming Queensland election and the possible leverage which may be possible to achieve, he added, " The Island speaking as one lends a lot of weight to a cause."
The walkway proposal, estimated at over $4M, has loomed large for many years and it is worth noting that Magnetic Island Nature Care (MINCA) representative, Charlie McColl, added another perspective. Mindful that engineering requirements may well result in an unattractive structure, he suggested that the project be opened to a wider range of options including a suspended structure which sat away from the cliff face. Richard Poutney from Go-Electric and Magnetic Island Bike Hire described this as an, "excellent submission".
On a possible change of the speed limit to 50kph for all Island roads, Cr Crisafulli said there was a willingness (by participants) to go back to the groups they represented and talk about the possibility of a reducing the speed limit to 50kph, and added, rather refreshingly, that, "It's not for a mainlander to tell Islanders what to do," and advised that "the community needs to champion the cause".
Cr Crisafulli said, however, that reducing the speed limit across the Island to 50kph would, "promote the Island's laid-back life style," and that this was an issue that didn't need to wait, like the other longer-term plans for inclusion into the Local Area Plan, which would eventually become part of the City Plan. "My door is open for representations. We don't need to wait to make a better Island." he said.
The lower speed limit is something Magnetic Times has called for already - more than anything because it would help reduce the Island's shocking amounts of road-kill and, with our online poll presently running at 67% in favour of the reduction (see front page, lower right-side column, to vote), there is definitely strong support.
But this issue is more complicated when we try to navigate a good public transport outcome as well. Jan Pranskunus, Manager of the MI Bus Service told Magnetic Times that a slowing of the speed limit would make it very hard for the present number of buses to deliver passengers within the ferry turn-around times. The point is critical to the discussion as the great bone of contention - the lack of parking space at Nelly Bay Terminal - can be very well addressed by more people catching buses.
With MIBS, now under the new management of Transit Australia there is an expectation in some quarters that a number of their smaller buses, as seen in Townsville, may be redeployed to Magnetic. With smaller buses, which would be welcomed on the Island's narrow roads, it is likely that the company would require more services and the need to pay more drivers. And to make the bus service more attractive to a greater number of commuters some have suggested a main arterial express bus service combined with a slower service that collects less agile passengers from closer to their homes. This would again require more drivers.
As for the size of the carpark, Charlie McColl, questioned why there should be extra car parking created when greater use of public transport is required.
This subject also feeds into the wider issue of growth on Magnetic Island. The survey found 77% of respondents to consider it a problem.
MI Community Development Association representative, Peter le Grand saw need for , "policy to determine the limits to growth coupled to complementary policy to address attitudinal change and habit adjustment."
Cr Crisafulli said that parking is an issue that we need to address with all means - from other transport options to freeing up existing car spaces. "Some cars are left for weeks" he said but wouldn't commit to parking meters being installed to prevent this. "I cant say yes or no. We'd need to see strong support."
Bruce Williams is the transport spokesperson for Magnetic Island Residents and Ratepayers Association and, although personally in favour of seeing the speed limit lowered, as MIRRA representative, maintains the present MIRRA position that the speed limit remain at 60kph, saying, "I have learned to respect the anti-case, as expressed by a number of MIRRA members and supporters.
Bruce Williams wrote to Magnetic Times, "Magnetic Islanders who operate businesses and services, including a number of Taxi Drivers have vigorously promoted the keeping of the 60 km/hr, largely because these businesses are confronted by urgencies and emergencies which may not be experienced by the community as a whole. Failure of electrical appliances or supply and the likelihood of missed crucial airflights, appointments or opportunities are just some of the pressing issues which confront business and business operators.
"I respect such realities but have no solutions to them at this stage.
Interestingly, Mr Bill Flavel, who operates the Magnetic Island Taxis was, according to others at the meeting, in support of the lowered speed limit. Magnetic Times has, as yet, been unable to interview Mr Flaven directly.
Bruce Williams, who is also a taxi driver, went on to say, "However I also personally respect and support the lower speed-limit as a "sacrifice" necessary to maintain and to promote an "Island Ambience" which can be seen to be threatened. The accelerated roadkill and the role of rush and haste seems to me to represent a threat to those very qualities of Magnetic Island life which entice both visitors and migrants to these shores. Although it may defy definition, we would all recognise when it has gone. This ambience must be maintained at all costs. Even if the personal or fiscal cost might seem to be excessive, we must keep Magnetic an Island. At the conclusion of the latest MIRRA Survey, I can reveal that many members of the Magnetic Island Ratepayers and Residents Association Ltd are strongly in favour of the change to 50 km/hr."
Bruce Williams is, it seems, very committed to a solution and has since told Magnetic Times, "In order that the MI community might make informed judgments about this (lower speed limit) and other "ambience-related" issues, it is likely that a CBSM (Community-Based Social Marketing) project will be conducted in the New Year.
"I already have MIRRA approval to conduct a CBSM project on the topic of "Road Kill" which, if it were to be linked with "Lowered Speed Limits" seems to be subservient to a larger topic of "Appropriate Road Use on Magnetic Island". I will put that to MIRRA at the February meeting.
His approach is clearly constructive. He adds, " We probably will need to find a creative solution which is unique to Magnetic Island. So what? We can do it if we cooperate."
To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below