NEW ERA: The newest instalment of the Sunshine Coast Council, elected on March 19, 2016, gathered at the Caloundra chamber. A new council will be elected when voters cast their ballots on Saturday, March 28.
NEW ERA: The newest instalment of the Sunshine Coast Council, elected on March 19, 2016, gathered at the Caloundra chamber. A new council will be elected when voters cast their ballots on Saturday, March 28.

Council’s found its community spirit far too late

OPINION:

IT'S taken a global health pandemic to spark council's grassroots kindness focus, after years of imposing fines in areas where insufficient parking was approved and ripping up community initiatives such as urban gardens.

Funnily enough, it's come just before an election, too.

The kind council. Sorry, I'm just not buying it.

The Sunshine Coast Council's #covidkindness campaign is great in theory.

But a council whose parking officers were walking around Centrelink offices on Monday morning, hours after so many were left jobless in an instant, whose communities have had to fundraise nearly half-a-million dollars to fight said council for not abiding by its own town plan, undermines any substance this hashtag carries.

READ: 'NO NEED FOR IT': CENTRELINK PARKING PATROLS SLAMMED

It shouldn't take a global pandemic to remind those in the layer of government closest to the people who they work for.

A bit like Scott Morrison trying to lecture people on how to act in a crisis, after jetting off to Hawaii during devastating bushfires, this campaign carries little weight.

This community has been taking care of itself - despite a council more concerned with imposing its will on the community than listening and being guided by its ratepayers - for a long time now.

I've lost count of the number of stories I've written with people who felt harshly treated by parking inspectors or council officers while walking a dog.

The heartache that the Urban Food Street debacle caused still lives strong in the memories of many, as do many drawn-out carport wars.

I remember the genuine outrage at the prospect of the community being bypassed on the issue of a possible 200m rock wall off Cotton Tree.

The same council which had moved to take action then hailed an award-winning community consultation process, which ultimately scuppered the rock wall plans - a consultation process only sparked by the actions of a dedicated community and this newspaper.

Over the past few weeks, as the council election campaign has ramped up, several key themes have emerged.

These key themes are: transparency, or a lack thereof, be it real or perceived; a sense of disconnect between council and its community; and a growing fear that the lifestyle so many cherish here is being eroded by a development-first attitude as infrastructure lags, which many want shifted.

As one woman who saw Monday morning's antics in Maroochydore - as officers viewed cars parked by people stuck at Centrelink trying desperately to sort out their immediate futures - put it to me, now isn't the time to be adding to people's stress levels.

There needs to be a seismic shift in the next council.

Rather than imposing its will, a local government should be guided by its community via genuine consultation that seeks direction, rather than to just tick a box.


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