by Naveen Razik
One of Brisbane’s most polluted waterways is set to be transformed into a thriving parkland precinct, under a new master plan released by the Lord Mayor.
Councillor Graham Quirk on Thursday launched the draft master plan for the Oxley Creek Transformation project, pledging $100 million in funding over the next 20 years to create “something that Brisbane people can be very proud of”.
Oxley Creek was rated South East Queensland’s worst waterway in 2006 and its health only worsened after it was contaminated by raw sewage during the 2011 floods.
Now the Council is hoping to undo decades of damage to the waterway.
“There’s been a lot of agricultural, industrial and landfill use along the creek corridor, hence the water quality along Oxley Creek has had difficulties through its history,” Cr Quirk explains.
“What we’ve been doing gradually over the last few years is to change the uses. We now need to go out with a vision for the future.”
Oxley Creek Transformation chairman Nigel Chamier says the proposal is “a truly unique opportunity”.
“As our city grows, we have to create more parkland, more natural environment for our wildlife,” Mr Chamier says.
“We have to encourage younger generations to come and investigate, to be inquisitive and to get some more exercise as well.”
Drone footage of the Oxley Creek Catchment (Supplied: Brisbane City Council)
In addition to undertaking extensive work to restore the creek and surrounding environment, the council plans to build a number of sporting and recreational facilities throughout the 20-kilometre corridor.
Among the priority projects listed include a ‘Nature-based Adventure Parkland’ near Logan City and a ‘Greenway’ trail system that will span the length of the catchment.
“We’ll be creating walkways, bicycle tracks [and] horse trails. I can’t think of anything better to have a canoe and a kayak and just explore Oxley Creek,” Mr Chamier says.
Environment, Parks and Sustainability Committee chairman Councillor David McLaughlin, summed up the plan as a “20-year journey to rehabilitate this wonderful corridor”, but admits the proposal is already facing some “big-picture issues”.
The Brisbane City Council owns just 30 per cent of the land covered by the master plan and will have to negotiate with private landowners and the state government to get the master plan off the ground.
The launch of the project wasn’t without confusion, with the Lord Mayor forced to walk back promises of a new city cat terminal mentioned in the planning document.
“It is there in the plan as a discussion point, [but] it’s very difficult because of the topography of the river [and] issues of erosion,” Cr Quirk admits.
Bird watchers welcome plans to preserve “world-class birding destination”
The draft master plan has been warmly received by local environmental groups, who regard restoring the catchment as an important investment in Brisbane’s future.
Friends of Oxley Creek Common presidentSteve Gray describes the catchment as “a largely unrecognised Brisbane treasure”.
“[Despite being] just seven kilometres from the CBD, 208 species of birds have been identified on The Common,” Mr Gray explains.
“Few if any cities in the world could boast such bird numbers so close to the city centre.”
The Friends of Oxley Creek Common support the draft plan “with minor reservations”, and urge community members to have their say on the proposal before the May 27 deadline.
“At this stage, the draft fulfils our desire to preserve and enhance Oxley Creek Common as a world-class birding destination which will return significant income to the community of Brisbane,” Mr Gray says.
“The public consultation process undertaken [so far] has been generally very positive and we look forward to further participation as the master plan is finalised.”
Mr Chamiers says Council is looking forward to engaging with local environmental groups during the planning phase to “make this a better place for our city.”