WHAT will the Bass Coast Shire Council do next month?
That’s the question on the lips of the Phillip Island community, who at the weekend demonstrated their angst against putting a car ferry terminal on a north-facing Cowes’ beach.
The Save our Beaches (SOB) group, who’ve been campaigning against a terminal on the beach – likely between the Cowes Yacht Club and Mussel Rocks – say more than 500 people attended a rally opposing the terminal location.
SOB spokesperson Kate Mackenzie said it’s “madness” to put a car ferry at a north-facing beach.
“We’ve sent a clear message to the State Government and the Bass Coast Shire Council that this is the wrong location,” she said.
“This is a safe, family-friendly beach that is popular with locals and visitors.”
Following the rally, a peaceful protest was held on a Cowes’ beach.
The council next month will be presented with the final business case for the Cowes to Stony Point car ferry.
The draft case says project’s viable. Although it would cost an estimated $80.3 million, the operator would see a good return and there’s an economic benefit to be made – increasing the number of overnight visitors on Phillip Island.
It would, according to the draft business case, likely bring more people to the area during the off-peak times.
But the State Government faces a substantial community campaign that’s screaming loud for the terminal to be relocated.
Bass Coast Shire councillors reiterated at last month’s meeting that they were elected to represent the community.
So it will be up to them next month to raise issues during the meeting and decide whether they support the final business case.
The SOB group is hopeful that councillors will put a stop to the car ferry business case at the next meeting on March 21.
“If they do not stop the progress of the draft business case at this council meeting then we show strength in numbers at the meeting on the April 18 to ensure they listen to us,” Ms Mackenzie said.
Car ferry discussion
On Saturday night, around 200 people gathered in a Cowes’ hall to listen to speakers regarding the proposed car ferry.
The meeting, organised by the Phillip Island Conservation Society (PICS), included a variety of viewpoints on the car ferry, although most questions were aimed against the proposal.
Speakers included SOB’s Kate Mackenzie, Cr Michael Whelan and Destination Phillip Island chair John Pandazopoulos.
Ms Mackenzie raised many issues, including concerns around community engagement.
“We are genuinely concerned by the lack of consultation throughout the entire process,” she said.
Consultation began in September last year, and the community’s been given six weeks to provide feedback on the draft business case.
“We encourage everyone to write a submission to the councillors and make sure they know how you are feeling about the proposed car ferry terminal on our beaches,” Ms Mackenzie said.
At the end of the meeting, PICS moved a resolution to say the draft business case is “flawed”; socially, economically and environmentally. They also created a car ferry working group.
The final business case has not been released; it’s due mid-April before the council’s monthly meeting, and so the business case could change depending on community feedback.
To provide feedback, go to www.basscoast.vic.gov.au/Business/Cowes_to_Stony_Point_Car_Ferry