Big ambitions: Mayor outlines bold plans for 2017
TOURISM, rates and solar. These are the three major goals Fraser Coast mayor Chris Loft wants to focus on for 2017.
Amidst a booming population that thrives on tourism, Cr Loft said it was his ambition to see numbers increase to 1 million in Hervey Bay and 200,000 in Maryborough over the year.
The key, he insists, is "using what we've got".
"We've got a beautiful location in Hervey Bay, we've got beaches, we've got Fraser Island ... we've got so many things that appeal to families. Then Maryborough offers a complementary experience; we're investing $1.2 million in Mary Poppins to make that an iconic tourist attraction," he said.
"We're family friendly Fraser Coast; we're looking to bring families here."
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His ambitious vision for the Fraser Coast to become "the solar capital of Australia" - one not too far off with the announcement of three solar farms across Susan River, North Aramara and Teebar - is one he hopes to see by the end of the year.
While he could not guarantee a specific date for any the projects to be complete, Cr Loft hoped they would be completed by Christmas.
"Some of those might drizzle over into the following year, but we're hoping they'll all get started and finished," he said.
"I'd love it if they were finished by the end of the year ... it's not a council function to inquire in depth about when they'll be completed, but ... (to) throw a date, let's hope they're all finished by Christmas time."
However, there was one guarantee he could make; keeping the rates as low as last year which he said was a declaration made by himself and councillors "in their promises to the ratepayers".
Last year, the Fraser Coast Regional Council delivered one of the lowest rates increases in its history at 1%.
Cr Loft was confident that the budget would continue the trend.
"Last year we did a $67 million capital spend - the biggest spend council has ever done.
"Councillors have their input into the various projects (in the budget) and what they would like to see happen. Some of the projects might be a bit too dreamy, but we've got to live within our means.
"We've got a great year coming up ... I hope to see a prospering economy by the end of the year; house values rising, employment opportunities rising, and all within our budget. It can be done."
What would you like to see council achieve in 2017? Join the discussion and tell us below.