In response to Mr Newling’s letter in Echonetdaily, Byron Shire Council wholeheartedly agrees that public amenities within the shire need to be upgraded.
Unfortunately many of the toilet blocks are past their infrastructure ‘use by date’ and need replacing. For whatever reason, previous council administrations have not invested sufficiently in cleaning and maintaining amenities in keeping with the demands of a busy tourist destination.
This council has been progressively reviewing our asset renewal budgets and has begun to invest in new facilities. In determining council’s asset maintenance and replacement program council is reviewing the location and usage of current facilities to ensure that future investments of public funds into the program provide optimal outcomes for the community. With respect to the specific references made in within Mr Newling’s letter:
Torakina toilets sit on Crown Land and cleaning options (currently twice a day) are limited by the budget provided to council by the Crown. Additional funds have been requested from the land managers and the upgrade of these poor quality facilities is listed within the Plan of Management for the Brunswick Heads Foreshore Public Reserves. Unfortunately it is unknown, at this time, when additional funding might become available.
The Pilgrim Park toilets usage has significantly dropped since the Pacific Highway bypass of Brunswick Heads. Given the very poor state of these facilities and the absence of funds to upgrade them a decision was made to close the toilets pending a broader review.
In Mullumbimby, the roofs over the picnic tables where removed due to age and the asbestos material. New seating was provided along with a BBQ that is electricity run, not gas. Providing shade structures will be considered when funds become available.
In Byron Bay, we have placed a new, relocatable, fully automated, self cleaning Exeloo toilet block at Main Beach (Apex Park) to replace the dilapidated toilets formerly located at the adjoining surf club. Whilst we have had some teething problems, council has had significantly fewer complaints over the new toilet block by comparison with those formerly located at the Surf Club that have now been replaced with clean change rooms with storage lockers. Council anticipates that new state of the art amenities will be built in this location in coming years following the adoption of the soon to be completed Byron Bay Town Centre Master Plan. At that time, the relocatable facilities will be moved to another location.
At Railway Park, council will soon demolish the old toilet block and install a relocatable amenities block similar to those recently installed at Apex Park. Once again council expects that new state of the art amenities will be developed in this location in the years following the adoption of the Master Plan at which time the relocatable facilities will be moved elsewhere in the shire to replace older facilities. council’s strategy is sound and provides new, clean facilities now where they are most needed and the prospect of the progressive replacement of similar outdated facilities elsewhere within the shire.
The community can be assured that toilets remain a high priority and we appreciate all feedback as we aim to reprioritise funding for maintenance and upgrades.
Ken Gainger, GM, Byron Shire Council