Massive threat to Coast that’s not being fixed
WELCOME to the unprecedented era.
Fires, floods, storms … what was once one-in-a-100 years now seems to be part of the everyday.
While federal politicians and lobbyists argue over the realities or otherwise of climate change and the part that we people play, we need to start accepting our new reality on a local level.
We live in a seaside city and, to quote Seinfeld's George Costanza, "the sea is angry, my friends".
Erosion, rising sea levels, king tides and the threat of ocean inundation means our best asset could one day become our worst enemy.
So what are we doing about it?
Well, in 1967, the State Government approved an A-line seawall running parallel to sand dunes along the entire Gold Coast coastline after several cyclones. The fact is while our weather may be increasingly wilder, it was never all sunny skies.
And yet, after more than half a century, this project remains incomplete.
Council supports the strategy, has completed 80 per cent of public seawalls using ratepayer money, but unless it frames a new law cannot force residents to build their sections.
And, ironically, it is those who have the most to lose who refuse to foot the bill, with almost half of the private properties fronting Gold Coast beaches lacking a certified boulder wall.
An investigation by council officers has found of the 526 private seawalls, at least 215 showed no evidence of certification.
"Based on recent experience, the cost to construct one metre of seawall according to existing designs is approximately $5000, the final figure being largely dependent on sand excavation requirements," the report said.
Councils are reluctant to fix private property walls for fear of "bias" towards beachfront owners, and the State Government does not want to set a precedent by stepping in with funding.
While these property owners continue to argue over who pays for the defence of their own homes, the sea is creeping ever closer.
So what are we going to do?
I hate to quote Trump, but let's build a wall.
Currently we're camping in beautiful Kingscliff, at a holiday park that was once all but swallowed by the sea.
The local council formed a contentious $22 million plan to reinvent the existing caravan park, reclaim some public green space and, most importantly, invest in a massive and literally groundbreaking seawall.
It is 300 metres long and 6 metres deep. Its depth enables it to be covered in sand and when beach erosion occurs, the wall's large concrete steps allow the public to carry on using and enjoying the waterfront.
Our current two-bedroom cabin is guarded by that wall, and enjoys the same million-dollar absolute beachfront position as those mansions on Hedges. The only difference is, alongside the seawall, there is a public pathway just beyond our gorgeous deck. So not only do we get to safely enjoy watching the waves but the people too.
And, quite frankly, this is what we should have across the entire stretch of our Coast.
Sure the Oceanway is again underway, but there is still no clear path of how it will traverse suburbs like Mermaid and Palm Beach, where private residents on the beachfront would prefer to exclusively access public land.
But look, if they're not going to pay to protect their position with a proper seawall, let's take care of it for them.
Let's publicly fund a protective barrier that will allow future generations to safely live beside the beach, but also access it with an accompanying public path.
Not only is it to the benefit of both our environment and our people, it would also ease the perilous paths of Hedges Ave where cyclists, pedestrians and motorists make a dangerous and deadly mix.
If we could make this work it would, indeed, be unprecedented.