Creating a safer, secure future for our community with an emphasis on support and local recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is at the heart of Sunshine Coast Council’s $816 million 2021/22 Budget.
Mayor Mark Jamieson said the Budget would continue council’s efforts to provide the right response for the Sunshine Coast in the wake of the greatest challenge the world has faced in a century.
“As we welcome the energy and activity returning around us – in our suburbs and in our local businesses – we must never lose sight of how this pandemic has impacted so many people in so many ways,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“The reality is that for many in our community, the personal toll of the pandemic on so many fronts, has been unquantifiable.
“With this in mind, our council Budget has been framed recognising the needs of our community across the board, but in the knowledge that in the context of the pandemic, we are not out of the woods yet.
“You only have to see the recent interstate lockdowns, transmission alerts and our own experience earlier this month to understand the vulnerability of the recovery process.
“To this end, council will continue to deliver for our community the essential services they require, while reinforcing the foundations for our region’s recovery and, through our efforts, build confidence across the region that we will not only recover, but be even stronger than before.
“In this Budget, our council is continuing to look both to the needs of our community now and to the needs of the region in the future, as we balance our investment in our environment, our community and our economy.
“As we did last year at the height of the pandemic, council’s budget has again acknowledged the critical work of our community organisations.
“It is impossible to place a value on the work they do, which is why it is important we look to help these organisations when they are most at risk of being unable to assist other community members.
“A further $2.9 million will be invested in grants to community groups in 2021/2022, including $1.6 million through the Community Grants Program to help organisations deliver projects and events, benefiting many residents across our region.
“Within this allocation, council will also commit $1 million to community partnerships with organisations such as coastguards, chambers of commerce, regional museums, community halls and neighbourhood centres.
“Our support for the services that our community values runs much deeper however.”
This year, $54 million will be allocated for council galleries, community facilities, libraries and lifeguard services.
This includes $400,000 to progress the design of a new library and community centre at Sippy Downs and another $1.9 million will go towards the continuation of the Caloundra Centre Activation Project and design of the new Caloundra district library.
Community Portfolio Councillor David Law said building capacity in our communities to be connected, resilient and to respond to local issues echoed our key goals in the Sunshine Coast Community Strategy.
“Most of the community organisations that receive support from council either by way of grants or access to facilities and services are operated by volunteers, so building their capacity and skills is a win-win for council and for our residents who rely on these services,” Cr Law said.
“This is why our extensive commitments to community grants, facilities and services is such an important priority in our council’s Budget.
“We also know our residents love to come together at important times of the year – and that this proved a significant challenge for communities everywhere this past year.
“With the easing of some of the public health directions and the ability to now host events under COVID Safe plans, we are responding to what matters to our community by increasing our investment in the Festive Season program to $900,000.
“The Festive Season program includes Christmas, News Year’s and Australia Day events and an opportunity will now exist for community groups delivering well-established festive events to apply for multi-year funding.
“This will enable groups to identify, plan and lead events in their own neighbourhoods and continue connecting people neighbour-to-neighbour, street-to-street and community-to-community.
“Horizon Festival, a celebration of our region and our creative talent, returns in 2021 with 10 days and nights of visual art, music, theatre, dance, film, ideas and creative workshops from August 27.
“The festival, which attracts more than 30,000 people to the intimate, free and ticketed events held across the region, is a key opportunity for our arts and creative sector to showcase and learn.
“The acclaimed Caloundra Music Festival will also return to Kings Beach in October 2021 with a revised three-day format and the safety of patrons, artists, crew, volunteers, vendors, staff and the community top of mind.”
Deputy Mayor and Community Portfolio Councillor Rick Baberowski said council recognised the health, wellbeing and social benefits for residents, young and old, when participating in sport and active recreation, so this would continue to be a high priority in our budget.
“Council has allocated just over $12.5 million towards a number of exciting projects across the region, including commissioning the Nambour Splash Park and water slides and the Kawana Aquatic Centre Master Plan review and Stage 1 detailed design,” Cr Baberowski said.
“Council’s budget also commits $5 million to progress the new Honeyfarm Road Sport and Recreation Precinct at Meridan Plains, while signage and the trail along the Glass House Mountains Regional Trail will also be upgraded.
“The Sports Field Maintenance Program helps sporting clubs produce the best competition-grade fields so council will invest more than $790,000 in that program this year.
“This is excellent news for grassroots sporting clubs, mums and dads who run the club tuckshop on the weekends, people who want to stay fit and healthy and also for professional sporting organisations who benefit from large-scale competitions and meets.”
Cr Baberowski said heritage, the arts and culture continued to play an important role in the social fabric of our region and would also receive attention in Council’s budget.
“Council is investing more than $832,000 in the Caloundra Regional Gallery so it can continue to provide exciting exhibitions and programming as the regional hub of the Sunshine Coast arts scene,” Cr Baberowski said.
“This includes the prestigious Sunshine Coast Art Prize which attracted more than 400 entries from across Australia this year, thanks to its growing reputation, increase in prize money and high-profile sponsors.
“Council’s $1.9 million Heritage Levy, which will remain at $13 this year to resource the new 10-year Sunshine Coast Heritage Plan, will enable council to continue to support new research into regional stories and explore innovative options, to engage the community with our heritage through digital initiatives, such as the award winning virtual reality experience telling some of our region’s First Nations story.
“The Levy will also continue to help conserve our region’s heritage assets, including the State Heritage-listed Bankfoot House and its nationally significant collection, as well as supporting our region’s community museums and heritage organisations through grants, practical workshops, professional development, community programs, collaborative marketing and events.”
Connecting our communities and making it easier to get around – whether it be to work, to the shops, to access facilities and services or simply to visit friends and family – is an integral objective of council’s Transport Levy.
“The Transport Levy will not be increased this year, remaining at $44 and forecast to generate approximately $6.5 million which will be directed towards numerous projects to improve connectivity between communities,” Cr Baberowski said.
The proceeds of the Transport Levy, which is paid by every ratepayer, will be utilised for:
- finalising the options analysis for the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit project
- implementing the five-year travel change behaviour program
- improving safe walk-up and cycle opportunities to selected bus stops
- supporting and monitoring the new trial Ridescore Active Schools Program at selected schools
- supporting the Council Link service for eligible persons travelling to their nearest centre
- continuing Flexilink services
- maintaining the Kenilworth Community Transport Service.
Budget highlights to help our communities thrive:
- $5 million to progress the new Honeyfarm Sport and Recreation Precinct
- $2.9 million for grants to community groups
- $1.9 million will go towards the continuation of the Caloundra Centre Activation Project including the detailed design the new Caloundra district library and community facility
- $1 million towards commissioning the Nambour Splash park and water slides
- $1 million in community partnerships with organisations such as coastguards and chambers of commerce, regional museums, community halls and neighbourhood centres
- $900,000 for the region’s Festive Season program
- $832,000 for exhibitions and programming at Caloundra Regional Gallery
- $790,000 for the Sports Field Maintenance Program
- $575,000 for carpark upgrades at Mooloolah Valley Sports Complex
- $550,000 for the Kawana Aquatic Centre Master Plan review and Stage 1 detailed design
- $410,000 upgrade to the equestrian arena at the Nambour Showgrounds
- $400,000 to progress the design of a new library and community centre at Sippy Downs
- $300,000 towards implementing football infrastructure across the region
- $150,000 to continue to refurbish library branches.
- Did you know Sunshine Coast Council’s eight branches and two mobile libraries welcome more than 1.4 million visitors and loan more than 2.2 million items every year
- Our online eLibrary continues to grow, and never more so than last year, due to the impacts of COVID-19, when the e-collection and our digital programming provided social and intellectual connection thanks to free online resources such as eBooks, music, movies, programs and audiobooks