As Hervey Bay continues to grow and expand, the locals and visitors aspirations for the esplanade are becoming more diverse and complex. Council is undertaking a two phase consultation process to understand the community’s perspective for the future of the Esplanade.
The Hervey Bay Esplanade is a key community, environmental, and economic asset for the Fraser Coast Region. We are asking the community to help us unpack what the future vision for the Esplanade is that successfully manages the differing needs and uses.
The area is unique in binding together the various villages and communities located along the Esplanade, acting as a linking element for the whole city. The calm waterways, beaches and parks provide opportunities for a variety of activities and a wonderful backdrop for many tourism, retail and hospitality businesses.
This project will assist Council in identifying the community’s values, priorities and vision for the Esplanade for years to come. Therefore, ensuring a future vision for this much loved icon and preserving its unique character and identity for years to come.
The first phase of the process, which included wider community engagement such as an online survey, targeted group discussions and drop-in sessions at locations along the Esplanade has now been completed.
Expression of interest – Observers for community panel days
Phase two: Deliberative democracy process (community panel)
Phase two of the Hervey Bay Esplanade Community Engagement will commence in May.
Deliberative democracy or deliberative engagement is all about placing people (citizens, residents, affected individuals) closer to the affairs of government.
Observers are an important part of any deliberate process as they provide an opportunity for the broader community to view the panel and process in action.
Having observers helps to build understanding and enhance the transparency of the process. Community members who are being represented by the panel can see people ‘like them’ working together to grapple with the issue at hand.
There will be open and closed sessions for the community panel days, much like a court jury process. Observers are welcome during the open sessions and will be asked to leave for closed sessions.
Council is now inviting community members to register to be an observer for the open sessions on the community panel days. Please note, the venue and panel structure mean the maximum number of observers per session is limited to 10 community members. There are approximately four open sessions per panel day for observers to attend, however this may change on a day-to-day basis.
Council asks that residents nominate at least three potential sessions in their EOI so we may accommodate as many community members as possible. Observer registrations will be allocated on a first in basis. Community members will initially be allocated to one session only as it is important as many community members as possible have the opportunity to attend. Once the EOI period closes, Council will look to allocate individuals to more sessions, where possible.
Observers will be provided with a set of guidelines that outlines a ‘code of conduct’. This is important as observers are not to interact with or disrupt panel members, take photos or make any audio or video recordings. The panel is advised of who is in the room at the start of each open session and may call to close the room during their deliberations.
About the Community Panel
The community panel was independently and randomly selected by an external contractor. 14,000 invitations to participate in the panel were randomly sent out across Fraser Coast, evenly distributed across all 10 Council regions.
Those who received an invitation were asked to register their interest to participate, and were placed in a pool. Deliberately Engaging (external contractor) then used census data and key filters to stratify this sample of people who expressed interest. This means that the final randomly selected panel (45 people) is broadly representative of the Fraser Coast Region in terms of age, gender and geography. This is why a panel is often called a ‘mini public’.
Fraser Coast Regional Council and the facilitators (MosaicLab) supporting the deliberations have no influence over the selection process.
The randomly selected panel, will be brought together over 6 full day sessions (in May and June) to discuss and respond to the following remit:
The Hervey Bay Esplanade is a key community, environmental
and economic asset for the Fraser Coast Region.
What is the future vision for the Esplanade that successfully
manages differing needs and uses?
Community engagement approach overview
A deliberative democracy engagement process has been selected to provide an opportunity for the whole Fraser Coast community to be involved to have their say. The engagement includes both community wide (broad) and ‘deep dive’ (Community Panel) processes. This process will assist Council in identifying the community’s values, priorities and vision for the Esplanade for years to come in a meaningful and representative manner.
PHASE 1: Wider engagement (Broad)
This provides an opportunity for everyone to have their say through online surveys, targeted discussions and drop-in open houses. The feedback and information gathered in this phase will be summarised and used as a key input in the second phase of the engagement process.
Open house information sessions were held:
23 March, 2019
Bill Fraser Park, Torquay
9.00 am - 1.00 pm
6 April, 2019
Urangan Pier, Urangan
9.00 am - 1.00 pm
PHASE 2: Deliberative democracy process (Community Panel)
Deliberative democracy or deliberative engagement is all about placing people (citizens, residents, affected individuals) closer to the affairs of government and is different from representative democracy because it puts conversations, diverse perspectives and understanding at the centre of the decision rather than relying on polling and voting.
A randomly selected, small group of Fraser Coast community members (45 people) will be brought together over 6 full day sessions to discuss and respond to the remit.
The panel is independently selected and representative of the wider community demographics. 14,000 invitations will be randomly sent out across Fraser Coast, evenly distributed across all 10 regions. Those who receive an invitation are then invited to register their interest to participate.
Census data is then used to ensure the final panel is descriptively representative of the Fraser Coast Region in terms of age, gender and geography. Panel members (45 people) will then be randomly selected from this group of people who have registered.
Council has no influence over the selection process, and the panel will be broadly representative of the demographics of the wider Fraser Coast community.
What will the panel be asked to do?
The panel will be asked to weigh up and grapple with a range of perspectives, inputs and evidence and respond to the remit:
The Hervey Bay Esplanade is a key community, environmental, and economic asset for the Fraser Coast Region.
What is the future vision for the Esplanade that successfully manages the differing needs and uses?
The panel will consider things that include:
- What are the guiding principles for the Esplanade?
- What is the vision for the whole Esplanade?
- What are the key recommendations for the future of the Esplanade?
Fraser Coast Regional Council has a responsibility to effectively manage the region in an accountable, sustainable and efficient manner. While Council is able to consider most elements, there are certain restrictions that limit the level of influence the community may have.
- Legislative and legal requirements: Any legislative or legal requirement including planning schemes, Acts, legislation, existing contracts must be upheld. This includes:
- Quality and Safety: Quality standards and a safe environment must be maintained and risks minimised in all aspects of Council management
- Sewage infrastructure: All current and future sewage infrastructure will be determined by Council
- Final implementation and timing: Council will determine the final implementation and timing of panel recommendations. We will communicate regularly with updates throughout.
- Service Providers: Council will determine service provider access to the foreshore. (e.g maintaining GPT’s (Gross Pollutant Traps), beach outlets, toilets, pump stations etc).
- Broader Impact: Council has a responsibility to consider broader impacts outside the project area in relation to any recommendations.
Council welcomes suggestions and discussions around a broad range of topics.
What will happen with the panel’s recommendations?
Council will consider all recommendations and outcomes from the panel report at a General Meeting later this year.
Council will then provide a response to all recommendations and will look to incorporate these recommendations into a new Master Plan document. As part of Council’s considerations, members of the panel may be invited to present the final report.
What are the principles of deliberative engagement?
Deliberative processes include six core aspects. These are:
- Clear remit: A clear, plain English challenge or question is placed before a group. This remit goes to the core of the issues and provides a strong and open platform for discussion about the trade-offs.
- Information: Detailed, in-depth information provided from multiple, diverse sources is provided to the participants to help them understand the dilemmas. By doing this the group can move beyond opinion to an informed and more balanced view.
- Representative: A random sample of people affected by the decision are actively recruited to participate. Key filters are used to help stratify this sample to ‘represent’ the broader demographics.
- Deliberative: The processes are built to ensure maximum involvement from all participants. It builds the thinking from individuals, to smaller groups to the whole group. The issues are weighed up and discussed in various ways before final recommendations are made.
- Influential: The panel’s report has weight. It is to be considered at the highest level of decision making and responded to directly. Some members of the group will be asked to present their report and recommendations directly to the decision-makers to demonstrate the gravitas of the report and the role of the process.
- Blank Page Report: All deliberative processes enable the participants to prepare their own thinking and report ‘from scratch’. We will not provide a draft position (or draft Master Plan) for review. This allows people to review the evidence, discuss and dialogue about the options, actively negotiate with each other, and finalise a shared solution for their report. Hence, the panel’s report is a ‘blank page’ - created by the deliberative group themselves – and presented unedited to decision-makers.
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Snapshot of the Fraser Coast
From Fraser Island - the world's largest sand island to the heritage streetscapes of Maryborough; to the rich farmlands of Tiaro, sheltered waters of Hervey Bay, one of Australia's most popular beach destinations, and old mining villages to peaceful seaside retreats set on the shoreline of the Great Sandy Strait, Fraser Coast is a mix of stunning landscapes, islands, cities and towns.
Located 250km’s north of Brisbane, Fraser Coast has been identified as a ‘hotspot’ for population and investment growth. Fraser Coast is ideally positioned on the Bruce Highway with fast, efficient road, rail and air transport corridors to major centres and resource sectors.
The Esplanade plays a key role in driving people to Hervey Bay and is an important economic, environmental and community asset.
The Butchulla (Badtjala) People are the traditional custodians for the Fraser Coast and were the first to call the foreshore home. The foreshores were used as campsites, ceremonial places and burial sites (mouth of Tooan Tooan Creek). The foreshores and adjacent waters are likely to have provided a rich bounty of food resources.
This is confirmed by the presence of stone-walled fish traps and numerous shell middens along the mainland coast of Hervey Bay. In addition, there are cultural landscapes, story places and places with connections to other areas in the region. Dayman Point, for example, is linked to Mt. Bauple (some 60 km to the south-west, near Tiaro) through the story of Yindingi (EPA, 2004, Ulm, 2002).
The area between Urangan and Point Vernon was first settled by Europeans in the early 1860s. By the late 1800s, Pialba was already established as a popular holiday destination with the development of holiday homes and boarding houses.
The branch railway to Pialba was opened in 1896 and extended to Urangan in 1913. The Urangan Pier was opened in 1917. By this time the villages of Vernon, Pialba, Scarness, Torquay and Urangan were well-established.
Picnic trains were run from Maryborough to Hervey Bay. Beach enclosures to protect bathers from sharks were built during the 1920s (Hacker and Gourlay, 1986).
The sealing of the road from Maryborough to Hervey Bay in 1940 provided the catalyst for residential growth, increasing land prices and the emergence of Hervey Bay as a premier destination for affordable family holidays. It subsequently grew in popularity as an attractive retirement centre.
Overview 2015 Master Plan
As the Fraser Coast community continues to change, so do the needs on the Hervey Bay Esplanade. Significant upgrades were made to the Esplanade based on the outputs of the 2015 Hervey Bay Esplanade Tourist Master Plan.
The Master Plan considered four of the Esplanade precincts – Pialba, Scarness, Torquay and Urangan – and their future “look” and “feel”. This included distinguishing clear identities and themes for each of the precincts.
The key issues and opportunities highlighted in the consultation were:
- Improving access between the retail precincts and foreshore
- Appealing aesthetics for community and tourists and a cohesive experience across the Esplanade
- Improving user experience and balancing different groups needs including for recreation, sporting and retail/ business use
- Car parking and pedestrian access
- Large open areas use / greenspace provision
- Clear signage for walks/ paths/ access
- Erosion mitigation and conservation strategies
- Balancing iconic landmarks with user needs
- Environment and Wildlife conservation
The full report and masterplan is located here.
Overview of previous engagement and plans
The Hervey Bay Foreshore Management Plan (2007)
The Hervey Bay Foreshore Management Plan (2007) set out the broad guidelines for managing the foreshore (from Burrum Heads to River Heads), including future use and management of the foreshore - public lands.
The plan’s vision statement outlined the community’s values, image of, role and function of the foreshore parklands for a 10-15 year period. The community identified the foreshore as the “the prime recreational, environmental and tourism feature of mainland Hervey Bay”.
Key elements of the Vision Statement included:
- the retention of linear parkland along the entire coastline of mainland Hervey Bay,
- recognition of the critical role that foreshore parkland plays in protecting residents, buildings and infrastructure from natural hazards such as cyclones and storm surges,
- the important role of the foreshore parklands in helping to meet the legitimate and growing recreational needs of both residents and visitors, and
- recognition of the important environmental and ecological values of the foreshores.
The community survey highlighted the following key observations which relate to the Esplanade:
- more than 30% of respondents visited the foreshore daily and more than 60% visit the foreshores at least twice per week
- the most popular reasons for visiting are walking, relaxation, swimming, fishing, picnicking and cycling,
- the most common user groups are families and friends,
- the most common means of travelling to the foreshore are car and foot – cycling is also popular but public transport is rarely used
Through the consultation the community highlighted the following risks and concerns:
- Gradual and incremental ‘shifts’ in the nature and style of foreshore parks and their management
- Increased probability of natural hazards such as erosion, cyclones and storm surges
- Deterioration in quality of visitor experiences
- Deterioration in natural values of foreshores.
Between Pialba and Urangan issues identified in the consultation included; safety for pedestrians; traffic congestion during busy periods; lack of parking during busy periods; traffic noise; and a general loss of amenity.
For more information visit council’s website: https://www.frasercoast.qld.gov.au/beaches-and-coastlines (located on the right hand side under Downloads)
Parking Strategy 2031
In 2001, 2002 and 2007 surveys were conducted to develop the Parking Strategy 2031. This strategy explains and outlines the supply of, and demand for, parking in the Hervey Bay Tourist Precincts. The consultation highlighted the community’s desire for convenient and efficient parking facilities, whilst also considering the impact of parking on the transport network, and accommodating the competing needs of cyclists, pedestrians and people with disabilities.
For more information visit council’s website: https://www.frasercoast.qld.gov.au/fraser-coast-parking-strategy-2031
Walk and Cycle Strategy (March 2015)
The Walk and Cycle Strategy is the long-term vision for walking and cycling facilities and infrastructure for the Fraser Coast. The consultation highlighted that the community and visitors of the Fraser Coast currently enjoy walking and cycling for recreational, commuting and daily transport purposes. The community also identified scope for the following areas for improvement;
- amenity and vitality
- and cost effectiveness of facilities & condition for these activities.
For more information visit council’s website: https://www.frasercoast.qld.gov.au/publications (listed last under Strategies).
Sustainable Growth Strategy 2031
The purpose of the Sustainable Growth Strategy 2031 is to:
- Establish a strategic framework for the growth management on the Fraser Coast to 2031; and
- Provide guidance and policy direction for the drafting of the first Fraser Coast Regional Council Planning Scheme.
The consultation highlighted the following key observations which relate to the Hervey Bay Esplanade:
- Limited sense of “green” and general absence of trees within many streetscapes
- Infrastructure along the foreshore should be rationalised to provide better streetscape amenity for pedestrian environments
- The character of the area should be enhanced through capitalisation of the natural beauty and renowned internationally for its unique biodiversity and landscape.
For more information visit council’s website: https://www.frasercoast.qld.gov.au/sustainable-growth-strategy
Our Esplanade today
The Hervey Bay Esplanade offers a relaxed and authentic seaside experience, attracting locals from across the region; and tourists that are families, backpackers and ‘grey nomads’.
The Esplanade has a spectacular coastline, and is the prime economic, environmental and community feature of mainland Hervey Bay.
The esplanade is an important asset because:
- it acts as a buffer area which helps to protect coastal property from the effects of foreshore erosion, strong winds and storm surges
- Aboriginal and European cultural heritage values associated with sites and stories of significance to both traditional owners and more recent settlers
- Economic benefits flow from visitors attracted to Hervey Bay, its beaches and parks
- the environmental values associated with the remnant natural vegetation and habitat, the intertidal wetlands and, in some places, turtle nesting
- the social benefits that are derived from public recreational use and education, and
- the aesthetic benefits that are derived from views along the beaches and foreshore and out to sea – this includes vistas of forests and trees as well as panoramic views at Dayman Point that also have cultural significance.
The Esplanade currently offers a wide range of activities, and supports:
- A Fun and Active lifestyle
- Boating and watersports
- Swimming and fishing safely all year round
- Cycling, walking and playing
- Markets, music and theatre
- Fun Runs, Triathlons, Aquathons and Duathlons
- Swim races, paddling and surf club events
- Beach life and tourism
- Caravan parks and holidays units
- Beach style and day to day shopping
- Small scale tourist attractions
- A place to meet
- Coffee by the beach
- Hotels and night-life
- Restaurants and cafes
- A place to live
- Residential - units and houses
The five Esplanade Precincts originated as quaint fishing villages and have emerged over time to become the distinct hubs which are much-loved by locals and tourists (see The Precincts for more details).
Point Vernon is often seen as the “start of the Esplanade”. Home to the beautiful Gataker’s Bay and the Gables (including the offshore coral reef).
There are many options to relax and/or explore the natural shoreline vegetation and wildlife species, including local and migratory birds.
The rocky coastline has spectacular views of the ocean and captivating tidal rock pools to discover. Point Vernon is probably the quietest precincts with mostly residential houses and natural spaces, including parks and filtered sea-views.
The Pialba Esplanade Precinct is the foreshore presence of Hervey Bay’s emerging CBD. Currently providing a caravan park, activity areas and youth facilities, this foreshore precinct presents a very well-utilised space.
Pialba is currently identified as “a place for adventure”.‘Wetside’, Hervey Bay’s flagship tourist attraction, has been a catalyst for activating this part of the foreshore, injecting colour, fun and excitement. Wetside provides a value-add for tourists and also draws local visitation from across the Fraser Coast region.
The Pialba foreshore is also home to the Seafront Oval, a large, functional grassed space where the community gathers for important local events.
Scarness is a place for play, a place where people like to meet and enjoy a relaxing yet fun seaside experience.
Scarness contains a vibrant retail and restaurant strip, the renovated Beach House Hotel sets a fine new landmark with smaller retailers and boutique accommodation options creating a bountiful and fun hub where tourists and locals relax and enjoy life. Scarness is about kids playing and people gathering.
Torquay is the busy centre of the foreshore, a hive of activities set in amongst the ‘green’ overlooking the ‘blue’.
Of all the precincts, Torquay is the largest and has the highest density of development – offering critical mass to future opportunities.
Torquay is currently identified as “a place for health and wellbeing” providing access to recreational space to relax, keep fit, healthy and energised.
Torquay boasts an ideal swimming beach and location for a range of motorised and non-motorised watersports.
There is an existing vibrancy and range of cafes, personal services, shops, and late night dining.
Urangan (To Dayman Park)
Urangan, a fishing village with a rich history associated with its everlong pier – a pier now popular for fishing. The precinct has a rich culture and heritage which is very much a part of the identity of this area.
The pier previously contained a railway that amongst other uses, successfully facilitated the export of coal.
The Pier and associated Pier Park supports an urban fabric with modern resort-style elements along with shops, cafes and holiday units. On a Saturday morning Pier Park comes alive with ‘ParkRun’ joggers and the markets.
There are spectacular sea views at this point of the Esplanade harbour, all the way around to Dayman Park.
Why is Council setting up a community panel to help shape the future of the Hervey Bay Esplanade?
The Hervey Bay Esplanade is one of the best recognised and most loved features of the Fraser Coast, and helps define our identity as a great place to work, live and holiday. As our region continues to grow and expand, the community’s aspirations for the foreshore are becoming more diverse and complex.
The community panel offers an opportunity for 45 randomly selected, representative community members to be provided with enough time and information to dive deeper into the issues relating to the future of the Esplanade.
This panel, in conjunction with a wider community engagement process, will help to provide Council with a clear direction on the community’s values, priorities and vision for the Esplanade over the next 20 years.
What is a community panel?
Establishing a community panel is one method of running a ‘deliberative’ community engagement process.
A deliberative process puts the community and stakeholders at the centre of a decision.
Deliberative processes are about a randomly and independently selected group of everyday people that are broadly representative of the demographics of a wider community coming together to discuss and make recommendations on an issue.
The group will meet over several days, and their discussions are supported by professional facilitators.
The results of the wider community engagement phase will be provided to the community panel for consideration.
These representatives have access to all the information they need to have an in-depth conversation, are given sufficient time to properly consider that information and directly present their findings to decision-makers, having a real impact on the issue or decision at hand.
How will the panel be selected?
The community panel will be independently and randomly selected by an external contractor. About 14,000 invitations will be sent out across the Fraser Coast, evenly distributed across all 10 regions.
The people who respond to this invitation and express interest are then placed into a pool which is used for the next stage of the selection process.
Census data is then used to ensure the final panel is representative of the Fraser Coast region in terms of age, gender and geography.
Council and the facilitators supporting the deliberation have no influence over the selection process. They do not know who the panel members are before deliberations commence.
How will the broader community be involved?
If you’re not selected for the community panel, you can still take part.
Everyone will have an opportunity to have their say and are invited to complete an online survey, or attend drop-in open house events between 11 March and 7 April 2019.
All input and ideas will be collated into a wider engagement report that will be considered by the community panel.
To ensure a diverse range of perspectives and voices are heard and included in the process, targeted discussions will also be held with some groups that are usually less likely to participate in a survey or submission process.
Will panel members be paid?
The panel will meet over six full days (approximately 51 hours) outside of business hours and make a significant commitment in representing their community.
Each participant will receive a small amount of financial support in recognition of their time and to cover any costs associated with participating such as travel and child care.
Similar to legal juries, payment of per diems are strongly advised to avoid excluding participants who may find participation difficult through hardship. This is proposed as $600 per participant in total. Invitations will clearly note payment will be made for time, and meals are provided for weekend meetings.
What will the panel be asked to do?
The panel will be asked to consider the following question:
The Hervey Bay Esplanade is a key community, environmental and economic asset for the Fraser Coast region. What is your vision for the Esplanade and how do we balance the differing needs now and for the next 20 years?
The panel will work together (with the support of professional facilitators) to consider a wide range of inputs, ideas and evidence, discuss this question and decide a response. This response will be detailed in a report that the panel members will create together and present to Council.
Has this been done before by Fraser Coast Regional Council?
This is an exciting new engagement approach for the Fraser Coast Regional Council, and the first time we have included deliberative democracy as part of an engagement process.
We think it’s a great opportunity to work together with our community to weigh up information, make decisions and develop recommendations.