- Friday 11 December 2015
Achievements across a wide range of community, environment and economic matters shared the spotlight at Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson’s annual State of the Region address today.
Mayor Jamieson declared 2015 the Year of the Community at the council’s first meeting in January and that emphasis has been to the fore in the successes that have unfolded over the past 12 months.
“We’ve had a really good vision, a really great plan and process to get there and just as importantly, we have taken action to get things done,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“I travel the length and breadth of this region and I encounter people who are really optimistic about their future and that of their families, and the work that council’s elected representatives and staff are doing to shape a positive future for our region.
“Finalising council’s Social Strategy has been one of the key achievements in 2015.
“At the heart of that strategy is ensuring the community continues to thrive and enjoy the lifestyle that sets Sunshine Coast apart.
“It’s also about ensuring people are included and treated with respect and that opportunities are available to all.
“Due to our prudent fiscal management, we are in a strong financial position to support our community through a wide range of facilities, programs and services.
“This year council provided more than $3.5 million in grants to community organisations to help deliver improved services, programs and facilities for our residents.
“We know we live in one of the most beautiful locations in Australia and enhancing our lifestyle, preserving our environment and creating a strong economy go hand-in-hand.
“Getting that balance right is what our Council continues to be focussed on in everything we do.
“In the four years of this council, we’ve acquired 15% of the total environmental land owned by the Sunshine Coast community. That program has been in place since the 1990s, with 2761 hectares of land now being conserved.
“With more acquisitions under negotiation, this Council will have added more land to our conservation estate than any of its predecessor councils.
“This provides an enduring environmental legacy for generations to come.
“We have 866 Land for Wildlife members managing 6374 hectares of retained habitat and restoring a further 596 hectares - the largest local government-managed program of its kind in Australia.
“This council is also working closely with our neighbours in Moreton Bay to jointly advocate and convince the State Government to preserve the regional inter-urban break on both sides of the boundary.”
Mayor Jamieson said the economy was a critical challenge for the council at the beginning of this term.
“However the wheels of positive change have gained traction and Sunshine Coast is on the move,” he said.
“We are now the second highest performing regional economy in Queensland and we are on track to deliver our $33 billion economy by 2033.
“This council has taken an assertive approach to getting a lot of projects off the shelf and out of the ground – SunCentral Maroochydore, Caloundra South and Palmview, to name a few.
“The Sunshine Coast Solar Farm will start next year and it is hoped the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project will move forward so we can deliver a new runway and the associated benefits.
“The airport has continued its positive growth trend with six consecutive months of year-on-year growth in passenger numbers and a third consecutive month as the fastest growing major airport in Australia.
“Ultimately the measure of our economic performance is creating employment opportunities.
“In the last week alone, with the support of Council, three companies – Country Chef, Auto and General and Rivershore Resort – have announced new or expanded developments which will create up to 320 full-time equivalent positions.
“Earlier this year council was delighted to announce with Youi their intentions to establish their global headquarters at a purpose-built facility at Sippy Downs.
“We secured opportunities for local residents during the Sunshine Coast University Hospital construction program, with 807 people finding employment through the Work Shop.
“That innovative job placement project, a joint venture between council, The Hornery Institute and Lendlease, has added $115 million in wages and salaries into the economy which can only boost local businesses and services.
“The Sunshine Coast has again recorded the highest level of business confidence of any region in Queensland.
“And today, I’m also proud to announce the latest Sunshine Coast survey confirms that business confidence locally is at its highest since the survey began in 2009.”
Mayor Jamieson said ratepayers could take pride in their council’s financial performance.
“Council has achieved the second highest financial sustainability rating available for a local government – and no other Council in Queensland is higher than us,” he said.
“And council has received the seventh consecutive unqualified audit report from the Queensland Audit Office – giving confidence to ratepayers about the financial management of Council.
“As I move about the region, I detect a sense of excitement in the air,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“This has been a year of achievement, building on our efforts since 2012 as we concentrated on shaping our future.
“I doubt you’ll find another region in Australia that has a future as exciting as the one we have here on the Sunshine Coast.
“We have a story other regions would give their eye teeth to be able to tell and one that is squarely about the Sunshine Coast and our vision to be Australia’s most sustainable region.”
Shaping our Future highlights
- $1.18 billion in building approvals across the Sunshine Coast in 2014/15– the third consecutive year to exceed $1 billion.
- Starting work on the $20 million Evans St, Maroochydore upgrade
- Constructing the new $1.65 million Eumundi Rage Road Bridge, scheduled to open to traffic before Christmas
- The $2.4 million Coolum Sports Complex expansion
- The completion of the Maleny Community Golf Course
- The $3.2 million Sippy Downs Drive upgrade which opened at the beginning of the school year
- Starting construction of the $1.1 million Roys Road upgrade.
- $2.1 million spent on environmental management activities
- $3.5 million in grants to community organisations to help deliver improved services, programs and facilities for our residents
- The Sunshine Coast Region has been ranked the healthiest in Queensland
- About 640,000 people enjoyed 4300 events at Council-owned venues
- Sunshine Coast Airport experienced a 13.2% rise in domestic and regional airline passenger numbers as well as a 32.4% increase in international travelers in the year ending September 2015.