Water everywhere ...
A MULTI-MILLION dollar industry which could create hundreds of jobs and have major flow-on benefits for Ballina is ‘going begging’ because of the failure to build a marina in town.
Owners of Ballina Slipway and Marine Services, Michael Cocks and Bernie Nichols, said they received at least one call every week from a boat owner looking for somewhere to moor.
“We’ve got nothing to offer,” Mr Nichols said.
“But we know that if we had a marina, more and more boats would come, and this industry could really grow.”
And it’s not just maritime-related businesses that would benefit – restaurants, cafes, clothing stores and other retailers would receive a boost.
A 2005 recreational boating study done by James Foster found that every berth at a marina creates about a third of a full-time job.
A marina with 400 berths would create more than 120 jobs. But Mr Foster said it was frustrating because so few of his recommendations had been implemented.
“There were some things in there, such as more pole moorings, that could have been done quickly and at minimal cost,” he said.
“But we’ve gone backwards.”
Boat owner Bill Payne, of Alstonville, bought a boat for just under $1 million last year and is disappointed he can’t keep it in Ballina.
He now leaves it at the Gold Coast.
“The Gold Coast has a beautiful floating marina with 24-hour security and under-cover parking,” he said.
“It’s well-built and well looked after.
“If Ballina had something that was just a fraction of that, it would make such a big difference.”
Mr Nichols and Mr Cocks, along with Mr Foster and Mr Payne, say they will not give up on a marina for Ballina, which they believe could be funded by a private developer.
Costs for the project vary between $33 million and $100 million, depending on the scale.
“But it would definitely be worth the investment,” Mr Cocks said.
In 2008, the Department of Lands called for registrations of interest to develop the trawler harbour and Regatta Avenue boat harbour sites, which could include a marina, commercial and residential development.
But nothing has happened since.
A spokesman from the Land and Property Management Authority said they were still ‘investigating the feasibility’ of a marina.
He said negotiations were ongoing to relocate the RTA from the trawler harbour site.
“Industry representatives have indicated an ongoing interest in improved marina facilities in Ballina,” he said. “A call to the market could be made later in 2011.”
Mr Payne said research had already been done to prove a marina in Ballina was needed and would be successful.
“State and local governments now have to make this marina a reality,” he said. “They have to meet this demand and give this town the financial and employment benefits that will follow.”