PUSH FOR PORT: Councillor Keith Williams is talking about ideas for a
PUSH FOR PORT: Councillor Keith Williams is talking about ideas for a "Port of Ballina" aiming to develop the town’s marine industry. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Ballina ‘needs port projects’

A PROPOSAL for a Port of Ballina concept has been put forward by Councillor Keith Williams, who says the town is missing out on a multi-million dollar marine industry.

He said the town was pursuiing a number of marine related projects.

But he believes more could be done to encourage interest and possible government funding.

Projects being discussed include the dredging of the bar and North Creek, replacement of the Marine Rescue tower, the possibility of a commercial marina, support for the fishing and tourism industries, development of the marine industrial precinct, refurbishment of the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum and improvement of the health of the Richmond River.

"At present all of these projects are being pursued, but progress is slow and frustrating to many participants," Cr Williams said.

"As a consequence, stakeholders have formed the Port Ballina Committee to integrate these projects into an overall strategy."

Cr Williams said the committee wanted to develop a clear plan of action and an economic model.

"The rationale behind linking these projects is to highlight the potential economic importance of the port to the local and regional economy, build momentum and provide a focus for an investment strategy attractive to public and private stakeholders," he said. The first stage of the project would include the dredging of the bar.

Cr Williams said the lack of a safe passage over the bar was the "single greatest obstacle to further development in the port".

A pilot dredging program was essential, he said.

The first stage would also include investigation of a site for a commercial marina which would bring vessels and visitors into Ballina; the replacement of the Marine Rescue tower; addressing issues to ensure the health of the river and the refurbishment of the maritime museum.

Stage two of the Port Ballina concept would include the construction of the marina and ongoing dredging works.

Cr Williams said he realised it was an ambitious project.

"But we have to try to package this up because these are very important issues for our town," he said.



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