A strategy to guide how the Gold Coast can better protect, enhance and manage the funding for the city’s 52 kilometres of beaches over the next 10 years has nearly reached final approval.
The council’s engineering committee has endorsed the 10-year plan, worth $300 million, for full council approval later this month.
The plan follows a period of community consultation which focused on strategic outcomes to ensure everyone can enjoy the area’s major tourist draw, keep the beaches healthy and clean, and safeguard critical coast infrastructure from storm surges and erosion.
The strategy identifies 13 key actions for the council to undertake in order to achieve four chief outcomes, including the protection of beaches and promotion of joint stewardship.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the beaches are a significant asset to the city, delivering social, environmental and economic benefits.
“This Strategy is about meeting the challenges of managing and protecting our coastal environment head on, as well as recognising the opportunities that exist to grow business and recreation activities,” he said.
“The city is investing $10.6 million this year alone on maintaining and managing our 52 kilometres of coastline, with an additional $8.1 million allocated to provide the country’s largest professional lifeguard service."
He said it is crucial that the city works together with other levels of government, businesses and individuals to ensure the beaches were well-managed.
Recent wild weather has significantly affected the Gold Coast’s most prized asset, with the repair bill estimated at tens of millions of dollars according to coastal management experts.
Many Gold Coast beaches have all but disappeared in some areas, replaced by three to four-metre sand cliffs.
Bond University Professor of Environmental Management and Science Tor Hundloe, who is working on a coastal management plan in Old Bar, NSW, where three beachside homes have been lost to erosion, said artificial reefs were the only solution.
"The erosion on the Coast is severe and the council needs to get to work on a plan for the future before it progresses," he said. "It would cost about $10 million to create one to protect a section of beach the size of Burleigh, so it will be costly....but the reefs will help ease the force of the waves, giving council a chance to replenish sand while not ruining surf breaks."
As part of the strategy, development of the Surf Management Plan and Commercial Activity Plan is set to begin soon.
Committee Chair and Councillor Daphne McDonald said the Commercial Activity Plan would assist in decision-making about future beach use.
“It will look at what activity is happening on our beaches; monitor the impact the activity has, as well as guiding consideration of new activity on beaches,” she said. “The Ocean Beaches Strategy has been developed to help to shape the vision for our city’s ocean beaches over the next decade."
The noted the strategy would offer guidelines for funding decisions over the next decade.
The Gold Coast’s combined tourism and surfing industries are worth an estimated $7.6 billion, which means that beachfront development will also be a key source of additional value.