When it comes to liveability, Cairns ticks all the boxes, thanks to the delivery of much needed community, sporting, cultural and recreational facilities over the past two terms of Council.
Coming into office in 2012, the Unity Team was clear in its mandate to provide many more community facilities to advance Cairns’ reputation as one of the most liveable cities in Australia.
Seven years later, the runs are on the board with the development of major sporting facilities, the rapid expansion of the city’s walking and cycling network, the construction of state-of-the-art cultural and performance facilities, and establishing or renewing playgrounds in most of Cairns parks.
The annual Capital Works program has typically been structured to provide the “lifestyle” projects that enrich the lives of our residents and make Cairns a region of choice – a place where people want to live, not a place they have to live.
We know that liveability is a key influencing factor in where people now choose to live and work – in this age of technology, any business can be run from anywhere, so young entrepreneurs are seeking out cities that can offer the lifestyle they desire.
Here are just some of the projects and services that have been delivered under a Unity Team Council.
- 90 newly established or renewed playgrounds and new fitness stations throughout Cairns suburbs including major new playgrounds such as Nature Play at Centenary Lakes and Goomboora Park at Brinsmead.
- Progression of the Northern Beaches Leisure Trail with the link from Clifton Beach north completed and Holloways Beach foreshore section.
- Yorkeys Knob foreshore works, including a new 3-metre wide all abilities pathway, handrails and additional seating; new covered picnic BBQ areas and park furniture; upgraded pathways; new playground; additional foreshore car parking; and a new toilet block facility with CCTV.
- Major refurbishment of Esplanade Lagoon and amenities as well as the replacement of the Esplanade Boardwalk decking.
- Construction of the purpose-built Watkins Munro Martin Conservatory at Cairns Botanic Gardens.
- Southern Cycleway (from CBD to Woree), including two bridges installed over Moody and Chinaman creeks.
- Cycle/walking paths connecting the city through to Freshwater, Brinsmead, and Redlynch.
- Major upgrade to Babinda Boulders including replacement of four pedestrian bridges and two viewing platforms, new viewing platform constructed near the main picnic area and all-abilities water access ramp.
- 2.4km Yellow Arrow and 3km Green Arrow Walking Trails established, and major upgrade for Ivan Evans Walking Track.
- Foreshore Improvement works at Holloways Beach including new foreshore pathway, upgrades to BBQs, seating, furniture, playground and shelters.
- Stage 1 of the Redlynch Sport and Recreation Parkland Master Plan Project including extension of an extensive walking and cycling path network through and adjacent the rainforest riparian areas of Freshwater Creek, picnic facilities and the planting of 25,000 trees.
- Major upgrade of Green Patch into a formal camp ground and day use area including a new amenities block, internal roadways, signage, internal pathways, supply of potable water, lighting, picnic shelters, BBQs, and a flood warning system including siren, flashing lights and emergency signage.
- The $23.7 million redevelopment of the Tobruk Memorial Pool, including a 50m pool built to FINA specifications, an artificial wave rider, a toddler waterplay pool, and 25m program pool.
- Establishment of the Walker Road sporting precinct including fields for softball and baseball, associated amenities and lighting, parking areas and sealed access road, underground services, drainage improvements and landscaping.
- Redevelopment of Petersen Park, with two new rectangular playing fields established, new clubhouse, amenities, lighting and car parking.
- Major upgrade of the Martyn St Netball Reserve including replacement of six existing courts, addition of a further 10 courts, new roof over courts, improved lighting, formalised car parking and a new clubhouse.
- Upgrade of Gordonvale’s Alley Park with expanded fields, combined clubhouse, activity space, improved parking and drainage.
- Major upgrade of Endeavour Park at Manunda with additional fields providing 1.8ha of extra playing space, reconfiguration of playing fields to accommodate five cricket ovals, including a turf pitch with year-round access, and three senior soccer fields, car park and driveway access, and improved drainage.
- Upgrade to Barlow Park including re-surfacing of synthetic running track, upgrade to air conditioning in change rooms, main scoreboard, flood lights and TV broadcast lights installed, upgrade to permitter fence and amenities, and BBQ renewal.
- Construction of the new Cairns Performing Arts Centre to provide with the city with a state-of-the-art facility including a 941-seat main auditorium incorporating balcony seating, a foyer, bar area and public amenities, a studio theatre that can double as a 400-seat performance space, rehearsal and warm-up area, improved back of house facilities, including more change rooms and toilets, a cross over, higher and covered loading bay, a deeper stage, more spacious wings, higher proscenium arch, higher fly tower and more fly lines, a much larger orchestra pit, and improved acoustics
- The redevelopment of Munro Martin Parklands including lush landscaping with tropical plantings (63 trees, nearly 7000 shrubs and ground covers, and 275 vines), dramatic vine-covered arbours and pergolas featuring exotic and native species, a history trail telling stories associated with the park, and an open air entertainment space for hosting community events, festivals and musical performances.
- Refurbishment of School of Arts building and museum fit-out including extending the building on the Shields Street side to provide two full floors plus a mezzanine level for the museum, restoration of the Art Deco awning and façade at the northern end of the Lake Street part of the building, new mechanical and electrical services, replacement of the air-conditioning system, and an upgrade of the ground floor space for commercial use.
- Purchase of the historic Cairns Court House and the commencement of a major refurbishment to restore the building to its former glory as part of the planned Cairns Gallery Precinct.
- Stages 1-2 of the redevelopment of Shields Street ($18 million) completed providing urban parklands, indigenous public art pieces and contemporary lighting. Stage 3 will commence shortly.
- $2.2 million upgrade of the Tanks Arts Centre providing increased audience capacity and seating, climate control, dressing rooms, permanent stage and bar facilities in Tank 5 as well as the conversion of Tank 3 into an alternative performing arts space.
- Creation of the Zhanjiang Friendship Garden at Freshwater Lakes in the Cairns Botanic Garden precinct.
- Hosting of free movie nights in local parks throughout the Cairns region, attracting thousands of people.
- The commencement of the annual Children’s Festival which attracts around 4000 people each year.
- Millions of dollars in grants awarded to groups to support arts and cultural activities, local events and improved community infrastructure.