Redland council says canal levy is legal despite resident's challenge

THE old Redland Shire Council was negligent in its original approvals for Raby Bay canal building and the current council has no right to charge residents for repairs, says resident George Harris.

CANAL DISPUTE: Raby Bay resident George Harris says Redland City Council should not charge resident for repairs on structure that it approved many years ago.

CANAL DISPUTE: Raby Bay resident George Harris says Redland City Council should not charge resident for repairs on structure that it approved many years ago.

Mr Harris said approvals for canal works occurred from 1983 to 1986 – which had led to a series of revetment wall failures – and council should be held accountable for its decisions.

A canal resident for 25 years and past Raby Bay Ratepayers Association member, Mr Harris said failures first arose while canals were being built and consultants were called in.

Their reports raised concerns about the potential for further failures.

“It would appear (council) threw away the reports without heeding the advice given,” he said. “...While council was in possession of advice that the construction methodology was flawed, (it) continued with its approvals.”

A council spokeswoman said Section 94 of the Local Government Regulation (Local Government Act) allowed councils to make and levy a special charge on land identified as enjoying a special benefit.

This allowed council to collect money to pay for works needed to maintain canal and lake waterways.

“Special charges are not unique to Redland city,” she said. “Other councils also levy them.”

She said the waterways at Raby Bay, Aquatic Paradise and Sovereign Waters were major structures, some built more than 30 years ago and needed maintenance and repairs.

Mr Harris said a particular problem for council and Raby Bay residents was that as time rolled on council staff changed and corporate knowledge was lost, leaving people making decisions with little insight into what had gone before.

He said if any other engineered structure failed due to poor design, construction or oversight, it was highly unlikely that any council would get away with charging owners for repairs.

A major issue was that fill material placed in tidal zones was of a coarse size which allowed tidal water to penetrate properties.

This was not best practice when the canals were built and not best practice today.

The council spokesperson said staff movements were something every organisation had to deal with and council had no issues in regard to it.

Cr Peter Mitchell said he was a relative newcomer and not familiar with historical issues to do with the development.

“What I am really positive about are the panel talks (with residents) under way,” he said. “We keep them at arms length and they are robust but I’m really positive about the outcomes.”