Bold river plan

BALLINA has launched plans to become the boating capital of the Far North Coast with a new feasibility study ticked off yesterday.

The plans would centre around a new marina Ballina Shire Council hopes would attract recreational boaties from around Australia.

The marina would also revitalise the town's boating community and become the hub of a river-based tourism industry stretching up the Richmond to Lismore.

The study has won strong backing from local boaties, the Ballina Chamber of Commerce, and from the shire's councillors who yesterday unanimously endorsed the plan.

But first the council has to prove Ballina has sufficient demand for the new marina.

The council's strategic planner, David Kitson, said the study would investigate the boating needs of the Lower Richmond River.

"The whole purpose is to identify what's needed and the potential options for meeting those needs," Mr Kitson said.

Mr Kitson said a consultant company had been appointed to investigate the needs and requirements in the area, and the works and actions necessary to establish Ballina as the region's top recreational boating destination and service centre.

The study is expected to run for six months and identify infrastructure requirements, potential tourist links and marketing plans.

The consultant company will soon be calling for public submissions.

Ballina Deputy Mayor John Felsch said a new marina could 'put us on the map' as a boating town.

However, any new marina would have to be about three times the size of the previous one and be built closer to town.

Ballina Chamber of Commerce chairman Don Conson said the study was excellent news for the town.

"The chamber will certainly support any venture that backed a marina venture," Mr Conson said.

Peter's Bait and Tackle co-owner Steve Dansey said the river was the lifeblood of Ballina.

"People come here to fish and use the beaches," he said.

"A marina would bring more fishers to the area. A lot of visitors are amazed we don't have a marina."

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