By Lillie Hull and Isabella McGrath
Debate over development impact on the environment is dominating the campaign for the Division 8 election.
Division 8 has two candidates running for office, with Cr Jason O’Pray fighting to keep his title against activist Kathryn Hyman.
Cr O’Pray has supported the Sunshine Coast Airport development plans and has rebuffed concerns around the safety of expansions water run-off.
“I want to reassure the people of the Sunshine Coast, this is rain water (airport water run-off), this is fresh water… it’s safe for our environment… it is actually safe for… human consumption,” says Cr O’Pray.
Mrs Hyman,is well-known for her work with community groups Twin Waters West and Surrounds Inc and Organisation Sunshine Coast Association of Residents (OSCAR).
These groups focus on town planning schemes, infringement on these plans and the effects it has on residents of the region.
Mrs Hyman has been lobbying for the council to be more open surrounding the new airport development and its controversial water run-off.
After issuing a Right to Information (RTI), Mrs Hyman says she found that the water run-off was 10x the safe PFAS water limit.
“The water trapped in the underground garage was polluted with diesel and other contaminants – much confusion ensued…” says Mrs Hyman.
“Then it was reported that the contaminated water could be diluted by half, making it safe, and could be released into the waterways – which is what happened and this time no one stood in front of a camera drinking this water claiming it was safe.”
About the division
Division 8 of the Sunshine Coast council covers a large stretch of the Sunshine Motorway and its surrounding suburbs, which includes First Avenue Maroochydore to Coolum West.
These suburbs are:
- Coolum Beach
- Point Arkwright
- Mount Coolum
- Pacific Paradise
- Twin Waters
- Coolum West
The boundaries have changed since the previous election in 2016, the south Maroochy River area, including Cotton Tree were removed from the division and now Coolum Beach, Yaroomba and Point Arkwright are now included.
The key issues for Division 8 involve the environment, new airport expansion, noise pollution, residential issues and general development of the towns.
Throughout the recent years the Sunshine Coast has seen many new developments, including the Sekisui House Yaroomba $900 million sustainable village plan – a contentious issue for Division 8 residents
Sekisui House Yaroomba is a village development that was given Council approval in 2018, the site is set to be a seven story 5-star resort.
The development was highly opposed by residents who raised $400,000 to challenge its approval.
A decision on the appeal from planning and development court is expected in the next few weeks.
Mayor Mark Jamison said the new council would have the opportunity to reveal the full legal costs behind the defence of the appeal to shut down the development.
Sekisui House is still set to start development this year, if approved.
Meet the candidates
Cr Jason O’Pray says his main issues are:
- The communities call for the council to uphold and to protect the town plan
- The continuation of the airport and its new runway,
- The erosion of the coast
Kathryn Hyman is known for her work to help amend the flood prone and damaged land of Twin Waters West on the Maroochy River where a Stockland residential community is set to be developed.
Ms Hyman says she is looking to achieve balance between the town plans and development while keeping the nature and environment safe.
Ms Hyman is aiming to create a sustainable future for our children and ensure vulnerable communities in the division have a strong representative, by working with the Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy (CHAS), she will be helping make sensible visionary planning practices.
Ms Hyman also wants to open all council meetings to the public to ensure transparency between councillors and residents of the coast, as she says the council has had over 200 private meetings since its formation, compared to Noosa’s 16 private meetings.