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New Yorkeys boat ramp

by Paul Aubin/CAREFISH 6 Mar 23:25 UTC
Yorkeys Boat Ramp new close up © Paul Aubin

Yesterday I attended a meeting on site at the new Yorkeys boat ramp site, along with reps from TMR, the Golf Club, the Boat Club, the YKBRAG and a CRC councillor. Thank you Adrian for organising this.

The Golf club supplied buggies so we could access the area, which was appreciated. The site has now been surveyed and we were shown the boundaries and were able to walk around and get the lay of the land, although we didn't manage to get right up into the lagoon creek (southern) end where the access road will have to cross the creek coming off Buckley Street stormwater, (ie the street to the Boat Club and existing marina boat ramp).

The strip of State owned property, where the access road will need to be, above the high tide mark between the Golf and Boat Clubs is mostly around 25 mtr wide with a pinch point of about 23 mtr up near the northern end. You could call this area 'scrub' that you can walk through fairly easily, joined by the thick mangroves on the southern end nearer to Buckley Street. The access road will be 2 lane at 4 mtr each plus shoulder and a pedestrian/bike lane making 11 mtr total. The State also owns a strip of roughly the same width out into the marina.

The knoll where the new ramps and car parking will go is quite large and mostly sparse. The dredge operators have knocked a rough track through to do their service work and a lot of it has been slashed. The new ramp site is adjacent to the marina north breakwall, the water there was calm and well out of the current flow of the Moon Creek. It was approximately a low tide of 1 mtr with a run in, and whilst it was hard to judge the depth, it appeared to deepen to around a metre.

This is a very pretty spot, currently it is inaccessible to the public other than Golf and Boat Club patrons. It will need to be deepened and the reclaimed sand will be used to create some of the car parking which will be at least 90 car/trailer spaces.

The CRC will eventually own this and the recreational fishing and boating public will be the new neighbours and this will be a vital and long overdue asset. I believe the overwhelming community will very much appreciate this facility.

Unfortunately, judging from the past and yesterday's discussion, we will not be made welcome by the Golf and Boat Clubs or the YKBRAG.

1. The Golf Club believes it will destroy their amenity and claimed that insurance issues would force them to close the 14 th fairway, making it a 17 hole course. They also claimed that they were losing members and that potential new members from the failed Paradise Palms Club were not joining because of this new ramp.

2. The Yorkeys Knob Boat Ramp Action Group (YKBRAG) stated they would continue to oppose it. I would invite them to state their reasons to me so we can discuss.

3. The Boat Club continues strong opposition claiming it will make parking in the area worse. One said that their car park was regularly full of single cars from early in the morning and that they were accompanying cars to the trailer boats. They claimed the ratio was 1.5 single cars to each car/trailer. They claimed that the new 90 or so parks would not be sufficient and that the new ramps would attract far more traffic making their Club and Buckley Street and Varley Street worse off and that this new ramp would be outstripped by demand within 3 years. They claimed there was no economic benefit to Yorkeys other than for the fuel station.

The CAREFISH position has not changed either. We are very aware of the overall communities' strong need for additional ramp facilities around Cairns, particularly the Northern Beaches. We believe the location chosen is the best out of the 3 possible options that were identified during consultation some years back.

1. We disagree with the Golf Club. We don't believe they'll have to close the 14 th fairway. We note that almost all golf clubs everywhere have to deal with the build up of urban density and the required amenities that go along with that and engineering solutions exist. They may request a security camera be installed to negate insurance claims upon their club. There are a great many clubs that were once remote from built up areas but are now suburban. The strip of land in question is not their property and the property owner (the State) has rights as well. We also don't believe it will substantially affect their membership but it should be noted that their negative campaign of how this new boat ramp will destroy their Golf Club would not be helping their own plight. Having said that, we would encourage the TMR to be respectful of the main area of contention which is near the 14 th hole. It would be preferable to us that parking did not approach this boundary and strongly suggest this may relieve some tension. We suggest that it would be preferable to have less car parks initially and measure usage. This may be left as an option for the future if there is no other solution - why create a problem trying to solve a problem that doesn't or may not exist?

2. We aren't sure of the YKBRAG current issues as they have had a change of chair. We would appreciate correspondence and note that it has become more respectful and we would encourage others to be the same.

3. We don't agree with the Boat Club. We strongly believe the existing 50 car trailer spaces plus the new 90 or so will rectify the current parking mess and we believe this will resolve that mess for at least a decade. In the mean time, there are other potential ramp and parking solutions that ought to be pursued. The Gaspaley property on the Trinity Park side may be required to include a smaller ramp in the future, perhaps this could be a commercial operation for larger boats but note this may be a decade away. We also understand there is advanced application for development at Taylor's Point and that a smaller ramp would be part of that application. We also see the Palm Cove site as having potential. These would all be part of the solution and should be studied. The new Yorkeys ramp does not have to fix everything.

We also disagree with their claim that their car park is being filled up with single cars associated with the trailer boats using the existing ramp, yesterday claimed as 1.5 to 1 and previously claimed as 3:1. We refer to the attached sat pic of Bluewater ramp which clearly shows the relationship more to our observation at less than 10% and definitely not affecting the Bluewater Tavern car park. Regular observation clearly demonstrates that the cluster of cars parked early or overnight in their car park are almost entirely around the western marina gate entrance strongly indicating these cars are associated with the marina boats from which the club receives considerable rent. There are also commercial day boat operators taking guests out and many of those guests arrive separately by car. The Boat Club has indicated they will be soon chaining their car park and installing boom gates and this was reconfirmed yesterday.

CAREFISH would strongly advise that this should not in any way interfere with the already poor function of the marina ramp or allocated parking facilities. We would also request associated authorities pay close attention to this, as it is very clear to us that this location is a raw nerve to the public and has been mismanaged for a decade. As to economic benefit, those claiming that there is none for Yorkeys businesses might want to attend the fuel station, convenience store and bottle shop on days when the weather encourages large numbers of boaters to get out. From our enquiries, a large percentage are happy to spend around $300 per boat buying fuel, bait, ice, food and drinks on their way through Yorkeys. They may also ponder that their own organisations are businesses too and their hostility might be affecting their own trade.

The Boat Club did agree however that the existing walkway on the existing ramp was a big problem and ought to be removed to recover the existing lost ramp lanes and CAREFISH wants TMR to revisit this as a matter of some urgency too.

Finally, CAREFISH would strongly recommend that the neighbouring parties might do a lot better if they adopted a more positive approach and look at this development as an opportunity to negotiate a good deal for their members. The negativity has gone on for several years and yesterday's vows of renewed resistance was not welcome by us. We would also suggest that time is ticking and the time for getting something beneficial out of it for their organisations, members and the community is passing by.

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