Public Consultation

Thanks to a Notice of Motion being put forward by Cr Joe Natoli on August 20, 2020, The Sunshine Coast Council agreed to undertake public consultation on the mass transit plan before progressing to the 3rd and final stage of the project and handing it over to the State Government. It should be noted, Cr Cox, Cr Landsberg and the Mayor, Mark Jamieson, all voted against public consultation. 

Prior to consultation commencing, the Preliminary Business Cases was rewritten to become the Draft Options Analysis.  This new report released on April 28th 2021, prioritized a mass transit system for  13.6km from Marochydore to Kawana as the main transport priority for the region.  It further outlined 9 transport options for the route.  Densification of the route was also included but no longer quantified.  The consultation conducted by Council focused on the content of this Daft Options Analysis Report and finished on June 22nd.  Results of this consultation are to "inform" the final Options Analysis report that will be voted on by Councilors later in 2021.

The main component of consultation was an online survey.  Feedback indicated residents found the online survey to be complex, difficult to understand and to some “daunting”. We also received feedback that not everyone was comfortable with online participation. It also failed to ask the key questions of  "Is the chosen route right?" "Do you agree with the densification strategy?" and which of the 9 transport options do YOU prefer?

For this reason MTAG ran a parallel community consultation process.  We ran several online surveys and conducted our own pops at markets and other popular locations.  In order to provide ALL residents with the opportunity to have their say, we also provided residents with submission forms that could be returned to Council for inclusion in the final public consultation results.   Results of our consultation are outlined below.

You can still have a say.  There are two petitions still running, Federal and State, that you can sign supporting CAMCOS.

Results of MTAG Consultation

The community feedback MTAG received indicates the recommendations outlined in the Draft Options Analysis Report are contrary to community needs and expectations for public transport on the Sunshine Coast. The major themes that emerged from the feedback:

  • The Community do not want light rail or any other fixed infrastructure transport options such as trackless tram or rapid bus, along the coastal stretch.

  • The community do not want increased housing density (4-6 or 8 storey buildings) along the coastal stretch. Many are even concerned about the privacy impacts of allowing 3 storeys.

  • The Community do want a flexible transport system (mostly buses) that can expand as the region grows.

  • The Community would prefer to see the CAMCOS heavy rail option delivered before a mass transit system along the 13.6km coast corridor.

1. Community issues emerging from the Submission forms

Over 1000 handwritten personal submission, regarding the mass transit plan as outlined in the Draft Options Analysis Report were returned to MTAG for delivery to the SCRC.

Residents were asked to indicate which elements of the mass transit plan they were against:

  • Light Rail or any other fixed transport system for 13km from Maroochydore to Kawana (Stage 1)

  • Changing the Planning Scheme to allow substantial “infill” development along the light rail/beach corridor.

Over 96% of respondents indicated they were against key elements of the Draft Options Analysis as shown in Table 1.

Table 1 Submission Responses to Light Rail and Infill

Source: MTAG Residents Submissions 2021

Respondents were also asked to state in their own words their reasons for their objections above. 

Overall, the three most common reasons stated for objecting to the Draft Options Analysis as shown in table 2, were:

  • Supports heavy rail line/other forms of public transport (68%)

  • Affect the appeal/aesthetic of the region (66%)

  • Do not  want to be like the Gold Coast (27%)

47% of Respondents went further to say they did not want the Draft Options Analysis to be progressed to the State Government.  It should be noted this figure is understated as this question was added mid-way through the consultation period.

Overwhelmingly the community see the recommendations in the Draft Options Analysis as a major threat to the lifestyle and amenity they currently enjoy.  Interestingly they are not saying “do nothing” though. 68% support a heavy rail option and would like to see this developed as a priority before a mass transit system.

Table 2.   Reasons Respondents gave for Objecting to the Draft Options Analysis


Source: MTAG Residents Submissions 2021

Reason Codes

  1. Affects the appeal/ aesthetic that made people move to/ visit the area/ keep things the same

  2. No room for light rail

  3. Will not fix existing traffic and other issues

  4. Too much traffic already/ will get worse

  5. Too much noise

  6. No parking or only paid parking

  7. Supports heavy rail line/ other forms of public transport

  8. Concern about population size

  9. Light rail will not be used efficiently

  10. Do not want to be the Gold Coast

  11. Cause lack of beach access

  12. Council not listening to/ informing the local population

  13. Will be problematic for businesses

  14. Against proposed location of light rail

  15. Cause environmental damage

  16. Do not want high-rises (perceived by some of the community as greater than 3 storeys)

  17. Too expensive/ waste of money

  18. I do not wish the current “options Analysis” to be passed to the Queensland State Government for the preparation of the detailed business case.

  19. Lack of infrastructure to accommodate change

  20. Increase Crime

Responses were received from all SCRC divisions as well as wider Queensland and interstate (Table 3). Over half of the responses were from Division 4 (55%) which is no surprise given it is the Division most impacted by the Mass Transit proposal. The 2nd largest responses came from Division 6 and in particular Buderim. Again this is not surprising as these people are most likely to utilize the beach areas of Alexandra Headlands, Maroochydore and Mooloolaba.

 

Table 3 Submissions received by Division


Source: MTAG Residents Submissions 2021

    

2.  Community Response to 9 Transport Options offered in the Draft Options Analysis Report

The submission responses as shown above indicate the community are against a fixed infrastructure transport system in the coastal corridor and in particular light rail, with 97% of all submissions indicating they do not support this (Table 4).

 

Table 4 Resident’s Responses from MTAG submissions


 

 

 

 

Source: MTAG Residents Submissions 2021

 

As a lead up to and during the community consultation period, MTAG also ran an online survey through our website. Over 380 responses were received. We asked respondents to choose which of the 9 options they would prefer to see implemented. The 4 preferred Council options of Light Rail, wLTR, Trackless Tram and Rapid Bus were the 4 worst performing choices with only 15% of respondents selecting them as their preference. The 5th preferred option, Quality Bus Corridor (QBC), performed the best of the Council’s preferred options but still only received support from 9% of respondents.

Overwhelming (59%) people indicated they preferred a region-wide approach to the transport solution including road network and region-wide bus system upgrades. Combining this with the quality bus corridor response gives a clear indication the community are seeing a bus system throughout the region as their preferred mass transit choice. Many were quick to point out the lack of a region-wide solution that the 4 preferred options presented.

Table 5 Resident’s Responses to the 9 Transport Options


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: MTAG Online Survey 2021

3.  Community Views on Density

The submission responses indicate the community are against increased densities with 96% of respondents saying they were “against changing the planning scheme to allow substantial “infill” development along the light rail/beach corridor” (Table 6).

Table 6 Resident’s Responses from Submissions


 

 

 

 

Source: MTAG Residents Submissions 2021

 

Whilst we did not run a survey specifically on the densification of the corridor, the community chose to include comments about density in their responses to both our surveys and in their submission forms. It is important to point out that descriptions such as densification, infill, urban corridor and urban renewal are not commonly understood amongst the community. However, there is a very clear understanding of the relationship between a mass transit system and the need to increase the population to support it. Many questioned what should come first, the population or the transport? Many expressed the view the density would occur and based on history, no public transport system would ever be built to support it.

To the community there is a lineal assumption, increased population in the beach areas means increased building heights as they recognize the lack of available land to house the increase. They also view it as land grab for developers. The inclusion of a transport network like light rail makes them immediately think of the Gold Coast which has extremely negative connotations. Many therefore expressed their displeasure with higher density living simply by saying “Don’t make us the Gold Coast”. This does not mean they are thinking 20 story buildings. High-rise to this community is seen to be anything over 3 storeys. They also recognize that once 3 storeys are  allowed, there is every likelihood developers will seek further increases in heights, irrespective of what the Planning Scheme allows.

Many expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the current array of new 3-7 story developments that are occurring on the Sunshine Coast, that are clearly built way beyond what the planning scheme intended. As a result, the community hold grave fears for their amenity and lifestyle should any additional higher density rezoning occur. There is a massive distrust of the Council and the capacity of the planning scheme to protect their privacy and amenity. The phrase “developers just get what they want and the Council allows it” was commonly heard.   All responses are shown in Appendix 1, 2 and 3 

 

4.  CAMCOS

Our conversations with residents indicate CAMCOS is not so much about a preference for “Heavy rail” per se, as a desire for greater connectivity throughout the Sunshine Coast and to Brisbane. The allure of a transport system that would enable a reliable, and easy alternative to getting to/from Brisbane with stops at key centres along the way, is seen by many as the answer to traffic congestion issues not only around the Coast but on the Bruce Highway and one they would be willing to use if it was available. The connectivity of the CAMCOS corridor to major development centres such as Aura, the future Beerwah East and the new Maroochydore CBD is seen by many to offer the means to service a greater proportion of the current and future population’s transport needs. This direct Brisbane to Maroochydore connection would also support the tourism industry providing an alternative to highway travel.

In 2018 the Sunshine Coast Daily asked readers, “Which is the greater priority: CAMCOS or the Caloundra to Maroochydore light rail?  CAMCOS was overwhelmingly preferred (Table 7).

Table 7 Sunshine Coast Daily Survey 2018


Source: Sunshine Coast Daily

 

This need for greater connectivity was again confirmed in a Courier Mail Survey in 2020. Over 8000 responses were received with 50% giving priority to a SEQ fast rail network (Table 8).

Table 8 Courier Mail Survey 2020

Source: Courier Mail 2020

MTAG, through this website, ran our own survey in 2021.  We asked:

Which of the following Mass Transit Options would you prefer to see happen on the Sunshine Coast?

  1. Fast rail from Maroochydore to Beerwah (via the CAMCOS corridor) integrated with a modern bus system

  2. Light Rail initially from Maroochydore to Kawana (stage 1) then from Kawana to Caloundra (Stage 2)

  3. Neither

With over 260 responses, our results were consistent with the previous two surveys (Table 9).

Table 9 Resident’s responses to Choice of Fast Rail, Light Rail or Neither 2021


Source: MTAG Online survey 2021

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