ALL was quiet in the leafy enclave of Goode Beach on Tuesday night as 50 locals tripped into town to protest a luxury resort that Albany City councillors were later to endorse for State approval.
At an animated council meeting, 10 of 57 people in the gallery rose to slam a plan for 51 units, cafe, swimming pool and function centre between the squeaky white sand of the beach and the snake-infested banks of Lake Vancouver.
Goode Beach resident Roland Paver was rebuked by Mayor Dennis Wellington after saying a report on which elected officials were set to base their vote reflected “a level of bias that is unacceptable in quasi-judicial proceedings”.
“Mr Paver, Mr Paver, Mr Paver!” Mr Wellington interjected.
“You have two choices right now – to temper your words in a polite and reasonable manner … or I will shut you down.”
Asked by Mr Paver what words the mayor disliked, Mr Wellington nominated the charge of bias, which he said was “manifestly incorrect”.
“You are very sensitive about it,” Mr Paver retorted before continuing.
He said the report by City planners argued a coastal study prepared by the resort’s proponent had been accepted by the State planning department.
“This is a thoroughly misleading statement because it may encourage Councillors to believe the Department of Planning has approved proposals in the structure plan that the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has criticised and described as negligent,” he explained.
“Councillors need to be disabused.
“The Department of Planning has approved nothing.”
Mr Paver was referring to a striking submission by the State that asserted: ‘For the proponents … to dismiss State policies and instead state that they will plan and manage for a 50-year sea level rise is negligent to future owners and investors … as well as local and State Government authorities that may be expected to protect the infrastructure from erosion”.
The submission was later remarked upon by Cr Anthony Moir who moved, contrary to a recommendation put by the City’s planners, that the project not be supported.
Cr Moir’s motion was defeated 10 councillors to three, with only he and Vancouver Ward councillors John Shanhun and Tracy Sleeman in support.
Ultimately, the same three councillors were defeated when they voted to oppose and 10 of their colleagues supported the plan.
At the start of the meeting, project proponent, paediatrician Cherry Martin, spoke in support of her resort.
Dr Martin said she had been a tourism operator in Denmark for the past 22 years, and the Goode Beach development would create jobs long after construction finished.
She reprimanded “small minority groups” she said had misled with incorrect assertions, and the changing nature of their objections.
She said this would discourage investment in Albany, and that a 10-chalet project already endorsed for the site would have a “much larger” footprint than the one now she now proposed.
Her plans will now be considered by the Western Australian Planning Commission. If approved, the project may advance to detailed assessment by a State convened panel, meaning any resort could still be years away.