War on Noosa waterfront over bill for wall maintenance
RESIDENTS of an exclusive Noosa estate face a multi-million dollar repair bill to fix subsiding revetment walls fronting many of the estate's 450 waterfront homes.
Noosa Waters Residents Association president Gary Trevithick said yesterday something had to be done before the situation worsened.
Home owners contend that a failure by the council to maintain the bottom profile of the waterways had weakened support battering for the revetment walls, causing them to subside.
Sunshine Coast Council says it is not its responsibility.
Part of the substantial general rates paid by Noosa Waters residents helps fund maintenance of canal systems at Noosa Sound, Mooloolaba and other parts of the Sunshine Coast.
But the council contends that although Noosa Waters looks like a canal system, it is not and therefore does not come under its control.
"The Noosa Waters water body was transferred to the crown as a Common Lake Area under the Land Act," the council said in response to questions.
"This Act specifically prescribed that a "common lake area" does not constitute a canal under what was then the Canals Act. As such Noosa Waters is not a canal as prescribed by the Coastal Protection and Management Act."
That in effect means that the water in front of residents' homes has the same status as an elevator in a multi-storey building.
While unit owners are members of a body corporate that funds maintenance and repair through levies, people buying into the Noosa estate do not become part of a body corporate and have no knowledge of their liability.
Member for Noosa Glen Elmes, who will meet residents today, said if council did not consider itself liable it should refund the exorbitant rates it charges waterfront home owners.
The residents' association said it first alerted council of problems in July last year, but it was not until October this year that they were told council did not consider itself responsible for canal maintenance.
Mr Trevithick said in all discussions up until then there had never been a question about council's responsibility.
There is 7.8km of revetment wall within the Noosa Waters estate, more than half a kilometre of which fronts public parks and easements.
Mr Trevithick said owners accepted their responsibility for maintaining walls which are inside property titles.
"We damage, we repair, we understand that," he said.
However he said that did not extend to maintaining the full canal system.
"Failure of the canal component creates problems that the ratepayer can not solve," he said.
Earlier this year the council engaged the Port of Brisbane Authority to conduct a hydrographic survey of the system. That data was analysed and by May the association had requested council budget for soil testing, a geotechnical investigations report including solutions to fix the problem, and money for immediate remedial works. In July it was advised money was available in the budget.
The association attended a meeting on October 30 expecting that study results and solutions would be available for inspection and discussion.
Instead, Mr Trevithick said, council made the without prejudice claim that it was not responsible for maintaining the canal bed, slating that home to either the land owners themselves or the state government.