Flood-weary Gympie business owners have joined calls for the central business district to be ‘moved or fixed’ after it was devastated by another flood event, the fourth in three decades.
- Gympie’s Chamber of Commerce is calling for the relocation or major upgrades to the town’s CBD
- Some business owners have backed the calls saying repeat flood events are “not sustainable”
- Gympie’s Mayor says the concept would need to be driven and funded by state or federal governments
The Mary River peaked in Gympie last week at its highest level since the 1890s, flooding the town, stranding travellers, and coating everything with mud.
Local realtor Janzey Pratt said many business owners have had enough and want the CBD relocated or upgraded to prevent future flood heartache.
“Nobody wants to go through this, again.”
Ms Pratt said while some businesses in Mary Street have commenced repairs, there was still water in her store after the flood rose higher than the ceiling.
“Something needs to be done because this just keeps happening over and over again,” she said.
“And it’s getting worse each time that happens.”
She said it was time for all levels of government to seriously consider the CBD’s relocation or undertaking major upgrades.
“It’s a beautiful CBD, but it’s not safe,” she said.
Business chamber pushes for relocation
The head of Gympie’s Chamber of Commerce said it was time to consider relocating the town’s CBD to avoid future flood heartache.
Gympie chamber president Petra van Beek said all levels of government should start discussions about whether the relocation of the street was now necessary.
“Either the street be moved or at least lift those shops up to a mezzanine level and put a car park underneath,” she said.
“So that when we do get the standard floods, they aren’t affected.”
Ms van Beek said she understood either scenario would be a costly exercise.
“If you say ‘okay, we’re just going to turn that into a beautiful parkland and build new shops, somewhere higher up’, your cost options are going to vary,” she said.
“But I think as far as generating finance for it, it’s going to have to be a collaborative effort.”
Gympie’s Mayor Glen Hartwig agrees.
He said the council would not be in a financial position to relocate or upgrade the main street on its own.
“I know as a local government entity we don’t have anywhere near the funds available to do that.”
Mr Hartwig said there would need to be a collaborative approach from all levels of government.
“It would need to be an initiative from the state or the federal government,” he said.
“If that was something they decided we wouldn’t be against it, but it’s not something that we can fund.”
Too little, too late for some
Some business owners in Mary Street have already indicated they would not be reopening.
Charmaine Compagnoni hung a sign in her shop window this week telling customers she would not be reopening her fabric store.
“To the beautiful people … and strangers who helped to get all our stock and fittings out under very difficult conditions you have my heartfelt ‘thank you’.”
Local optometrist of 30 years Glen Horgan was determined to keep operating.
“It’s the fourth time but we’ll be back again,” he said.
But realtor Janzey Pratt said she feared for the future of the CBD if a solution was not found.
“It’s not sustainable,” she said.
Ms Pratt said she was grateful the Chamber of Commerce had started the conversation and encouraged all levels of government to consider relocation, no matter how costly.
“People have got really good ideas,” she said.
“I think the council needs to listen to the voices from business owners.
“Initially it might be a really big cost, but it shouldn’t just fall on the on the shoulders of the regional council.”