Call to shape own future, become Moreton Bay City

Published 12:00pm 24 May 2022

Call to shape own future, become Moreton Bay City
Words by Kylie Knight

With public consultation due to end on May 30, Moreton Bay Regional Council made its case to become a city to local business leaders and owners during a luncheon last week at Norths Leagues and Services Club.

The Reimagining Moreton Bay Business Luncheon, presented by MBRIT, included presentations by Mayor Peter Flannery, urbanist Peter Edwards and a panel discussion taking questions from the audience on May 20.

The event aimed to explain the benefits of the proposal to rename the region, Moreton Bay City, address concerns and provide an insight into what form the city would take.

Public consultation ends on May 30, visit the website to have your say

Mayor Peter Flannery said council was thinking about the future and how it and residents wanted the region to look in 10-20 years’ time.

“Are we going to be a place that change happens to or are we going to be a place that harnesses change to serve its vision?” he asked the audience.

He explained how Moreton Bay Regional Council had formed 14 years ago as local government reforms were introduced across the state.

Mayor Flannery said Moreton Bay had matured since then and had become a region of many places.

| “A city is not a single place like the CBD, a city does not equal a sky full of high-rises,” he explained. |

“We need to think of a city as a network of places. We, the community of Moreton Bay, are the city. We are a region, but we are not regional.”

And that has been the problem he’s noticed since becoming Mayor, when dealing with government officials, politicians and business investors in other states and overseas.

He said they thought the Moreton Bay Region was in regional Queensland, not just up the road from a major city with a big population and bustling urban centres.

Call to shape own future, become Moreton Bay City

Mayor Flannery said the region was at a “fork in the road” and had a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to shape its destiny in the lead-up to the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It also needs to act now if change is to happen before 2026.

The State Government’s Local Government Minister needs to receive an application by September-October this year, so the name can be changed before local government boundary reviews are undertaken ahead of the 2024 council elections.

Mayor Flannery said if the application was not made now, there would not be another opportunity before 2026 – well into planning for infrastructure and investment ahead of the Olympics. We might miss out on key projects and funding as a result.

Call to shape own future, become Moreton Bay City

Why does this matter?

Mayor Flannery said the Moreton Bay Region was not on a level playing field when competing for investment against the seven cities in Queensland - Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Logan, Mount Isa, Redland and Townsville.

| “It’s crazy that we’re not a city. As direct northern neighbours of Brisbane, we should be a city, just like Logan, the Gold Coast, Ipswich, Redland are all city councils,” he said. |

He said city status was more than just a label, affecting the funding an area could apply for and how it was considered by the bureaucrats assessing applications.

As a result, the Moreton Bay Region has missed out of funding available to city councils, but also funding available to regional centres – we’re somewhere in between at present.

Call to shape own future, become Moreton Bay City

Why are we a region and not a city now?

Mayor Flannery said when three councils or more were combined, during amalgamation in 2008, those areas were classified as regional councils.

Interestingly, Redcliffe was a city before amalgamation – only needing a population of 25,000 people and an industrial area to qualify.

“We fell into the (regional council) category. It was put upon us. There were other councils that were called cities back then – Redland became a city through amalgamation,” he explains.

First region to ask to become a city

According to the Mayor, Moreton Bay would be the first region to ask to be reclassified as a city in Queensland.

“The Department of Local Government was pretty shocked when we said about this. No council has ever asked to become a city before. You usually get told you’re a city, so we will be the first,” he said.

“It’s our responsibility to chart a course that enriches all our communities as we evolve.

“Becoming a city would give us a lot of momentum to achieve great things. With the Olympics and Paralympics in 2032, this is a unique moment in time to reimagine our future.”

Call to shape own future, become Moreton Bay City

What would our city look like?

The council’s ideal design is a polycentric city – one with several urban centres, linked to smaller centres/communities using well-connected and varied modes of transport.

There would not be one big central business district (CBD), attracting the lion’s share of infrastructure, investment, productivity and amenity.

These key economic and lifestyle drivers would instead be shared among the urban centres – Caboolture, Morayfield, North Lakes, Redcliffe, Petrie and Strathpine – in a bid to spread employment, business investment and demands on infrastructure such as transport.

Archipelago Founder, award-winning Architect and Urbanist Peter Edwards has been engaged by council to work on the proposal.

He said Moreton Bay was not starting with nothing, with a range of existing economic centres and urban centres that are well-defined and distinctive, and abundance of natural assets on offer from mountains to the mangroves.

Becoming a city was an opportunity to build on these and associated infrastructure.

“If we have a vision of where we’re trying to head, we can shape that infrastructure and expenditure to work for us so we’re able to hang onto the things we love and shape the city of our dreams,” Mr Edwards said.

| “We are in a moment in this city’s history, where we actually get to shape our future by intent, through vision.” |

He said change was coming anyway with the region’s population expected to exceed that of Tasmania by the 2040s.

Call to shape own future, become Moreton Bay City

If council decides to proceed with the bid, Moreton Bay could become Australia’s first sub-tropical polycentric city designed for working, living, learning and pleasure. Its form would be “low-rise, loose fit”.

His and council’s vision is for lifestyle-focused city, allowing more people to work within the region.

This would be supported by more east-west transport corridors, instead of the existing strong north-south transport spine which results in gridlock on the Bruce Highway during the morning and afternoon peak.

These are supported by riparian corridors along our rivers and streams, which could connect centres via bicycle, e-mobility or water-based transport options. The aim is to reducing travel demand, shorten journeys and improve efficiency with e-mobility.

He’d love to see the ferry return from Bribie to Redcliffe, activating bayside villages along the way.

Call to shape own future, become Moreton Bay City

How much would it cost?

Mayor Flannery said it would not be expensive to become a city.

Preliminary exploration would be covered by existing council department budgets and investment would be made in large-scale community engagement ahead of any submission to the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ).

If the decision is made to seek a reclassification and the ECQ approves it, council would change its name.

Mayor Flannery said there would, however, be no need to change street signs overnight and these would be replaced as usual.

He pointed out there were still Pine Rivers, Caboolture and Redcliffe branded signs from pre-amalgamation in the region and these too would be replaced when needed.

| “It would be very nominal, the expense involved. That’s something we’ve looked at and considered,” he said. |

He promised the move would not result in an increase in rates or councillors’ pay and said he would not be a Lord Mayor.

Will council proceed if residents’ survey says ‘no’?

The question was put to Mayor Peter Flannery …

“I’m not going to pre-empt councillors … it’s something we decided unanimously last year this is a path and journey we’d like to explore further,” he said.

“We’ve sent the staff out to look at the information – the facts and figures, the cost process involved – that’s come back to us part of that was to engage with the community. We put the survey out as well. We’ll get that feedback and it will be all part of the information and data that will come back to councillors to form their opinion and make their decision.”

To find out more, head to the website

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