The 5 most controversial decisions by Gympie’s new council
Owing to the nature of politics, a change in Gympie Regional Council's elected officials in March did not signal an end to controversial decision-making.
These are the top five decisions from the new council that sparked uproar from corners of the community in 2020.
1. TLPI no more
When it comes to controversies it is impossible to not tackle the one that sparked protests and a petition.
Councillors voted 6-2 to repeal two temporary planning laws adopted by the previous council in February on the grounds they clashed with acceptable development across the region.
This was disputed by former council staff and councillors who helped craft the laws, and led to protests from local conservation groups, shocking and offensive cartoons and comments, and an online petition signed by more than 36,000 people worldwide asking State ministers to step in.
2. Dog registration
Social media lit up in anger in October after owners of chipped and desexed gogs were slugged a $15 fee.
The decision was made as part of the council's 2020-21 budget, but was met with cries of "bull----" from some online.
Division 4 councillor Bruce Devereaux defended the new charge as necessary to cover the growing processing and operating costs associated with managing the region's 7000 registered dogs, and pointed it out was still less than half that paid in other areas including the Fraser Coast and South Burnett.
3. Water hike
Gympie region residents living off the town water grid will be feeling some in their wallets in February thanks to a decision to almost double the cost of water at refill stations and stand pipes.
From February 1, next year the cost of a kilolitre of water will jump from $2.90 to $5.50 at the stations following a 7-2 vote.
Council staff before the vote there were a number of reasons the price rise was needed including financial sustainability, and to stop water carriers from other council areas taking the region's water due to its cheap price.
4. Bella Creek motorsports park
A controversial motorsport park at Bella Creek in the Mary Valley was given approval by the slimmest of margins as Gympie councillors wrangled with the plan for almost an hour.
Developer Scott Canty's proposal had been a thorn in the council's side for almost a decade owing to court action and multiple refused applications.
But this time the council found itself with little choice but to make a controversial decision: either approve the development despite continuing objections from residents near the land, or refuse the proposal and risk it being appealed in the Planning and Environment Court.
5. Ambassador no more
The decision to sever ties with celebrity chef Matt Golinski after five years as Gympie's Food Ambassador served up a storm of controversy for the council in November.
Mr Golinski's contract was up for renegotiation but a lack of information about performance measures and other options gave councillors enough pause to vote 8-1 not to renew it - a process which Mr Golinski said left him feeling like a scammer.
Questions were also raised about what exactly had been promised by the council to Mr Golinski in the latest contract; Communications manager Sharna Rowley told councillors they did not have the resources to deliver on the council's end of the bargain.