Sections of the Tweed to Byron Rail trail line.
Sections of the Tweed to Byron Rail trail line. Scott Powick

Parking, rail, art: Council to debate controversial topics

BYRON Shire Council will hold its June ordinary meeting today, and it's an agenda full of interesting and controversial topics.

Parking, rail trail and art in the shire is sure to spark some debate.

Former Byron hospital project, Belongil Catchment drainage and issues investigation and plans for a BioEnergy Facility are also on the table for discussion.

Here's a preview of today's meeting agenda:

1. Brunswick Parking

Protesters will wear red and hold signs for the town of Brunswick, in a stance against paid parking at council chambers today.

Say NO to Paid Parking Brunswick Heads has organised a rally.

At the council's May 23 meeting, they resolved to postpone any decision in relation to the Brunswick Heads Parking Scheme Performance Review for one month.

The decision was postponed to enable staff time to consult with community groups and analyse infringement data in a more comprehensive manner.

The recommendation for today's meeting is the council undertake an expanded Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) survey of the Brunswick Heads parking scheme, undertake an economic assessment of Brunswick Heads to understand the existing economic conditions, where visitors come from and how many of visitors are tourists versus locals, and investigate options to help increase compliance monitoring.

This includes options such as increased patrolling and the introduction of parking technology, such as in ground parking sensors and parking meters.

It is recommended teh council integrate results and recommendations from the above items and report back to the council by May 2020 on recommended options to modify the parking scheme.

2. Byron Rail Trail

Today the council plans to evaluate the Arcadis Final Report on the Multi Use of Byron Shire Rail Corridor - Bangalow to Yelgun - and request a further report outlining next steps to go to the council later in the year.

Byron Shire Council does not own or have any management rights on the rail corridor but has set a budget of $230,000 available for the Multi Use Rail Corridor Feasibility Study project.

Arcadis's investigations conclude that there is a community and economic need to reactivate the corridor to address a number of transport challenges in the shire, a council report states.

"The engineering inspections highlighted that the corridor is in reasonable condition and, although the existing trackform, alignment and structures will not support high speed heavy rail without significant reparation, the engineering condition assessment concluded that it has the capacity to support very light rail vehicles at moderate speeds.”

The report listed a number of variable options, including:

1. Very light rail (VLR) - trains with axle loads equal to or under 4 tonnes;

2. Hi-Rail - passenger vehicles utilising the rails that are adapted to also run on roads - i.e. can convert between rail and tyre wheels;

3. AV vehicles/ driverless pods - requires removal of existing rail infrastructure to construct a road within the corridor;

4. Guided busway - requires removal of the rails and construction of new pavement.

5. Active transport, cycle, mobility scooters and walking - looking at two solutions - one that removes the existing rail structure and another that leaves the rails in place.

3. Art in the Shire

A Public Art Panel meeting was held on May 9 to consider seven reports, including the lighthouse project on Bayshore Drive roundabout.

Due to time constraints, several matters were not finalised and an extraordinary meeting was recommended to be scheduled within two months to make further decisions.

During the council's meeting today a recommendation will be put forward that the council convenes an extraordinary meeting of the Public Art Panel within two months to make further decisions around art projects including railway park and the lighthouse project.

During a art panel meeting in May it was revealed it would cost an estimated $32,000-$45,000 to complete the work.

"The estimate assumes completion takes five days and includes traffic control, site safety and supervision, elevated work platform and contingencies. The upper estimate range includes the cost of an experienced arts consultant,” the report states.

The report also identified funding would be able to be drawn from either the Byron Bay town centre reserve or the Rural South Catchment reserve by resolution of the council.

The second (and free) option was to leave the sculpture as is.