Brisbane City Council pauses bridge, park and bikeway projects in face of $656m flood bill

Two green bridges, park upgrades and a bikeway extension are just some of the projects Brisbane City Council has suspended as it grapples with a $656 million flood damage bill.

The council will contribute $327 million of that total, with federal and state disaster-resilience funding, and insurance payouts covering the other half.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner on Thursday said the cost was far beyond the 2011 floods, and, ahead of the council’s $3.6 billion budget being handed down in June had forced some hard decisions.

“This is a serious flood event we have just been through, and the impacts on our community, the impacts on business, on residents, and on our infrastructure, are ongoing,” he said.

Ferry terminals, bus depots, bridges, bikeways, car parks, footpaths and roads were all heavily impacted by the February floods city-wide.

Community-leased facilities were particularly hard-hit, with more than half of the council’s 640 facilities flood-affected, as well as 106 sports fields and four swimming pools.

Mr Schrinner said it was a “significant hit” to the council budget and restoration work needed to be fast-tracked to ensure repairs were not still being completed by the 2032 Olympics.

“We can’t afford to be building two new green bridges in West End while there are bikeways, roads and bridges that need to be repaired right now, so we’re hitting a pause on that program.”

Two months after the floods, Kedron Brook Bikeway remains a wreck with its expected repairs to cost tens of millions.(ABC Radio Brisbane: Lucy Stone)

Park upgrades for Mowbray Park in East Brisbane will be put on hold, pausing the slated demolition of popular community facility the East Brisbane Bowls Club.

Another controversial $30 million plan for a slew of parks and community facilities through the Enoggera Creek precinct has been permanently cancelled.

The council will also cancel the North Brisbane Bikeway Stage 5 extension through Clayfield, which cyclists have been pushing to progress as a key link through the north of the city.

The multi-million dollar restoration of monohull wooden ferries pulled off the water several years ago will also be scaled back, as will village precinct projects and other council spending.

Rates and revenue

The Lord Mayor refused to be drawn in on whether the upcoming budget will include a rates hike for residents, saying any rates increase will be revealed in June.

“By pushing pause on a number of projects, we’re buffering against those future impacts and that’s the right thing to do. We don’t want to be passing on these costs directly to ratepayers. That is not the right thing to do,” he said.

In its most recent quarter alone, the council lost a $100 million revenue and $100 million in additional costs, Mr Schrinner said.

Opposition Leader Jared Cassidy said all of the projects paused were controversial, or long-term promises not yet budgeted for.

“The LNP mayor is using one of Brisbane’s biggest disasters to take out his trash,” Mr Cassidy said.

“Adrian Schrinner has also refused to rule out a rates hike in the upcoming budget because he knows it’s going to be huge.”

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