Shaun Phillips tries his surfing skills at WetSide.
Shaun Phillips tries his surfing skills at WetSide. Karleila Thomsen

Water park won't lead to rate rise

THE BIG question has finally been answered and the news is good.

Our water rates will not go up to cover future operational costs of Hervey Bay’s water education park, WetSide, and no extra taxpayer money was spent on building the tourist attraction.

The Chronicle met with Wide Bay Water Corporation CEO Tim Waldron and communications manager Christina Maynes this week to discuss the cost of WetSide.

When asked whether ratepayers’ money had been used to fund the project Mr Waldron replied a resounding no.

Mr Waldron also confirmed water rates were not going to rise to cover the ongoing operational costs of WetSide.

“Despite outgoing operational costs, there are also incomes from the FlipSide BoardRider, WetSide Coffee Shop, merchandise and private functions such as weddings, birthdays, school party functions, business functions and group private hire,” he said.

“It is intended that this income should more than balance the outgoing money items and contribute to WetSide’s improvements over the years.”

Mr Waldron said already WBWC had been inundated with inquiries about hiring the park for weddings and was in discussions with businesses keen on sponsorships.

Ongoing operational costs have been estimated to be around $360,000 a year but Mr Waldron said that was a ball-park figure. He also said WBWC took a percentage of revenue from leasing the coffee shop. In regards to the cost of outfitting of the old boat shed, George Kotis has covered that, spending at least $300,000.

WetSide cost just under $12 million to build with the State Government contributing $4.95 million. Mr Waldron revealed WBWC was negotiating with the State Government for future funding.

He has also silenced critics of the BoardRider, who believe $5 for five minutes is too steep and the price should instead be $5 for 30 minutes like it is for Dreamworld’s FlowRider.

After comments were made in the Chronicle on Tuesday Mr Waldron pointed out the Gold Coast theme park charges $72 entry for adults (off-peak) and $47 for children.

“I think we’re a lot more family friendly,” he said.

When asked about critics who could not see the value in WetSide, he replied: “We deliberately designed the park to suit all cross-sections of society ... school classes but at the same time grand-dads.”

Mr Waldron expected WetSide to have a flow-on effect with tourist dollars pouring into local accommodation and restaurants. He also said the Pialba site was chosen because the area was dying and he hoped WetSide revitalises Main Street and gave visitors a good first impression of the Fraser Coast.

Initial forecasts of the cost of WetSide were $12 to $13 million. Entry into the park is free.

Ms Maynes is asking WetSide cynics to reserve their judgement until they visit the park.

This week Wide Bay Water Corporation provided the Chronicle with a partial breakdown of the $11.88 million it costed to build WetSide.
  • $5.25 million – design, building, civil and electrical works (including the timber boardwalk)
  • $3.5 million – environmental costs
  • $420,000 – public artworks (the play area, whale tail and dolphin)
  • $372,000 – architecture
  • $241,000 – landscape and restoration (including 15,500 plants)
  • $154,000 – planning approvals
  • $150,000 has been budgeted for the mother whale currently being built
  • Ongoing operational costs are estimated to be around $360,000 per year

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