LOCK IT IN: Should Nambour be home to Coast's prison?
A PRISON could form part of a bold new future for the Sunshine Coast hinterland, as a high-profile lawyer moves to entice major industry back to the former cane capital.
Peter Boyce, director of Butler McDermott Lawyers and the newly-appointed chairman of Reimagine Nambour Incorporated, is determined to stimulate development, investment and pride in a town which has clawed back from its fair share of blows.
Mr Boyce will lead a team of volunteers whose priorities in the short term - six months to a year - are to improve safety and bring business back to Currie St, particularly by capitalising on the Special Entertainment Precinct designation with bars, restaurants and live entertainment.
The long-term goal - within two to five years - is to attract another major industry, which Mr Boyce said required planners to recognise the potential in under-utilised land.
"The major industry can be anything from buses, to cars to agriculture, in different forms," he said.
"It can be, dare I say it, a prison in the hinterland, things that bring a lot of people, and I am the last one to say we need a prison, but the fact is they employ a lot of people 24-seven."
Mr Boyce said the closure of the sugar mill had been the biggest hit in the town's recent history, more so than staff and services moving from Nambour General Hospital to Sunshine Coast University Hospital, or council's imminent move from Nambour chambers to a new Maroochydore City Hall.
The Reimagine Nambour subcommittees are tasked with renewing the CBD; restoring the heritage tram; building a safer town; improving the built environment; developing and retaining events and entertainment precinct; capturing showground spillover; growing industry and boosting business.
The advisory groups will focus on maximising public spaces, attracting investment and improving transport and parking. The project has support from the region's local, state and federal government representatives.
Mr Boyce said members would meet monthly and discuss priorities in broader terms and set short-term goals (six to 12 months), medium-term (12 months to two years) and long-term (two to five years).
Mr Boyce said the consensus for the long-term was to fill empty shopfronts and spaces, ensure the entertainment precinct kicks off and "present the place a bit better".
On that point, Mr Boyce and Federal MP Ted O'Brien acknowledged the community was anxious to spend the Federal Government's $500,000 commitment towards streetscaping.
Mr O'Brien has led the charge on the Reimagine Nambour Project, but said it was time for the community to take full control.
Mr Boyce said the funds were in the final stages of being made available, and needed to be well-spent on Currie St and Howard St along the tramline to entice visitors to jump off and enjoy the town.
He said streetscaping required further planning and for business and building owners to get on board and embrace change.
Mr Boyce identified the Nambour Showgrounds as an under-utilised space, with a proven track record of hosting major events such as the Queensland Garden Expo - 40,000 people over three days, and the Sunshine Coast Agricultural Show.
Mr O'Brien and Mr Boyce said plans for an events centre had been completed, but required funding.
C-Square was an area of safety concern, which Mr Boyce said was unavoidable given the health, mental health and employment services based in the CBD precinct.
Should Nambour be home to a Sunshine Coast prison?
This poll ended on 19 April 2020.
Yes, that's a great idea.
No, what a terrible idea.
I'm not sure.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
But he said safety in the long-term was about working with those people, and said Reimagine Nambour had already strategised with Sunshine Coast Superintendent Darryl Johnson, Nambour Police officer-in-charge Gary Brayley.
He hoped the current increased police presence would become a long-term commitment, and acknowledged more homeless shelters and support were needed.
Mr Boyce is chairman of the Sunshine Coast Turf Club and charity Wishlist, but expects Reimagine Nambour to be one of his biggest challenges to date.
He said he got most of his work done from 4am to 8am, and has survived the ups-and-downs of Nambour's economy through "hard work" and adapting the business model through hardships.
He said he had also benefited from the good name of his mentors and predecessors.