Council wants Cowes pier as car ferry option
THE Bass Coast Shire Council wants the State Government to pay for another study into the Cowes to Stony Point Car Ferry, this time looking at using the Cowes Jetty as the ferry terminal.
It’s the result of extensive consultation which found that of 4768 survey responses more than 29 per cent of those people wanted the Cowes Jetty to be investigated as a potential terminal site.
The council’s meeting last week attracted around 200 people, including police – in response to threats to public peace – but there were no incidents.
It follows months of community angst, including a protest and many angry emails to councillors and the consultants of the business case EarthCheck over the preferred terminal location – mid-way between Mussel Rocks and the Cowes Yacht Club.
Mayor Cr Pamela Rothfield said the recommendation to investigate the Cowes Jetty as the terminal site had merit.
An amended motion, spearheaded by the mayor, also asked the State Government for an Environmental Effects Assessment on the preferred location for the terminal.
The motion passed, but without the support of Cr Michael Whelan, Cr Julian Brown and Cr Geoff Ellis.
“I acknowledge along the way there were missteps,” Cr Rothfield said, after stepping down as chair for the purpose of talking in favour of the motion.
“But I do feel this recommendation shows the community that we listen, we are not hell-bent on ramming through the development of a car ferry infrastructure in a location to which the community is opposed,” she said.
“I feel that this recommendation shows the community does have a voice and the council has listened.”
The council also vowed to support the car ferry “in-principle”.
“I see this ferry as having potential as being our real public transport option,” she said, prompting scoffed laughs from the crowd.
Council will defer a decision on the business case until an investigation is undertaken of whether the Cowes Jetty is a more suitable location for the terminal, including detailed traffic and parking assessments.
The request also includes an assessment of the potential impacts this site will have on the existing Jetty Triangle redevelopment project.
Work is underway to rip up the car parks to create an open space area at the Cowes Jetty entrance.
There will be a single lane shared road/footpath leading to the Cowes Jetty, but it would surely ruin the open space design if cars are constantly driving down it.
It would be an embarrassing blunder for council and the State Government; considering the state chipped in $900,000 and the council $1.4 million to redevelop that area.
Cr Julian Brown reiterated comments from Cr Bruce Kent that nobody knows the appearance of the terminal structure at the Cowes Jetty.
“Would it be three lanes on the existing jetty? Would it be 10m wide?” Cr Brown asked.
“If it is that large, or larger, do you want that in the sweet spot of Cowes?”
The Bunurong Ward councillor was concerned that council was providing in-principle support without details.
“It’s just common sense to me. You don’t make a commitment until you see the detail.”
He also argued that the council might be stuck with the Mussel Rocks – Cowes Yacht Club location if the Cowes Jetty site doesn’t work out.
Cr Rothfield said the original decision to not include Cowes Jetty as a possible car ferry site was as a result of community feedback against a previous 2010 proposal to develop the Cowes Jetty for a car ferry terminal site.
“We were honouring what the council of the day had heard from the community in 2010, however, it is now evident from the recent feedback we have obtained that many in the Phillip Island community may not be opposed for the Cowes Jetty to be considered as an option again for the car ferry proposal,” Cr Rothfield said in a statement following the meeting.
“Of course, this needs to be investigated as per our resolution. I truly believe that our decision to defer consideration of the business case and requesting the State Government to expand the scope to include the Cowes Jetty is a win for democracy and the community.”
During the meeting, Cr Fullarton said the proposed structure in 2010 was 18m high and would block out the view of French Island.