In 2019 public feedback was sought through a workshop and a ‘have your say’ online survey for a Strategic Mission Beach Master Plan of which the Village Green upgrade was the major component.
The community feedback received was unambiguous including; "Keep it natural" "Maintain the character" "Built areas should not detract from nature" "Present World Heritage areas these should dominate the landscape" "Iconic wildlife and trees" "Green up the village green".
The sentiments are consistent with decades of public consultation and workshop outcomes. They are reinforced in a key principle of the master plan project outline. The document claims a "vision that establishes the priorities and focused direction for projects within the Mission Beach town centre" . " A key principle of the plan is to reflect the values of the adjacent Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage areas as these natural wonders are at the core of what makes Mission Beach so special".
There was no consideration at all by the landscape architect or project manager for the existing trees in the village green to be saved and replanted to provide essential natural shade.
So far the project has involved a community 'workshop' two council project teams, two landscape architects, project managers, a marketing firm, a community reference group and three rounds of community feedback - on three different designs.
The Town Centre revitalisation Reference Group (RG) was only formed once the final plans were ready to be presented to the community. While some members were appointed, others were chosen through an expression of interest process. It was not clear what the selection criteria were for the members of the RG. MBC EOI here.
Mission Becah Cassowaries position has been consistent;
- Natural shade (native trees) as opposed to shade shelters. Additional shade trees to be mature trees. We would like expert advice on the feasibility of removal and replacement of all the existing trees as a priority option. If it is possible and if there is not enough in the budget, community members have expressed the willingness to fund raise for this.
- MBC position on any other additions to the whole village green, including design and placement of rubbish bins should first consider how it will blend with the natural environment, be a unique design reflecting the cultural and environmental values of Mission Beach and suit the existing village character.
At no point in the process was an overarching vision or set of guiding principles developed. Consequently, some of the members of the ref group appear to have had no idea from the start of what was required. As a reference group member, MBC has repeatedly drawn attention to the need for a set of key points to guide the direction of the project.
The lack of clear direction has allowed apparent intolerant behaviour from some of the RG members toward other members and has led to a rejection of and refusal to discuss any suggestions provided by some members. This behaviour culminated in an unbridled tirade of abuse aimed at a member during the Nov 7 Zoom meeting. (Meeting minutes here)
Instead of initiating constructive discussion, the concepts (below) have been ignored.
MBC is committed to having input in any decision making that will help retain the Mission Beach unique character based on the natural 'points of difference' and not for it to become, or look like, 'just another place".