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Lake bid sinks

Tuesday, 4th December, 2018

Imperial Lakes in better times. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt Imperial Lakes in better times. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt

By Callum Marshall

A 25in25 Committee proposal to look at how Imperial Lakes could become a community recreation spot, and how the state government could help facilitate that, has been shot down by local MP Kevin Humphries in favour of a Stephens Creek recreational area instead.

With Mr Humphries in attendance at last week’s council meeting, Mayor Darriea Turley asked him whether he supported a meeting with community groups to discuss the Imperial Lakes idea.

He said that the proposed meeting “wasn’t a high priority” of his and that “you need some serious analysis of that water” before discussions could really get under way.

“If it works, and the city looks for a more immediate water recreation area, (then what I would recommend) is Stephen’s Creek (instead),” said Mr Humphries during the meeting.

“There’s no reason why that can’t be considered the recreation area. But I won’t be rushing into any commitments though.”

Mayor Turley said she was “shocked” by that response, given good community support for the proposal and how a meeting between all stakeholders could clear up a lot of underlying issues.

“I thought it was a good option and that the state member should facilitate that meeting given that Imperial Lakes is a state asset,” said Mayor Turley.

“So I was quite shocked that he was suggesting that Stephens Creek could be the new Imperial Lakes.

“There are a lot of issues about Imperial Lakes but unless we have a conversation and some open data around it then it’s misleading the community.”

“Mr Humphries started the debate around the Imperial Lakes so to now say ‘no, Stephens Creek is a better option’ (is interesting because) I don’t even think that lends itself to be a community recreation area.

“There’s already an area for barbecues but what the community is asking for is an open space, an open green space. 

“Council is running a deficit budget, but we would be very supportive of the state government to open Imperial Lakes up. 

“Maybe the option is also about the public-private partnership, where perhaps a caravan park could be on there where the public can actually still access the site. So it’s a business as well as a public space.

“There’s always options, you see this happening along the coast. So let’s have an open and frank discussion to see where it can go.”

Chairman of the 25in25 Committee Peter Nash said expert insight was still needed to establish whether Imperial Lakes was a good option, but admitted that if the local MP was interested more by Stephen’s Creek then that’s where local attention should turn to.

“What we still don’t know about Imperial Lakes is what the problems are. We need to get the (right) people around the table that can say what they are,” he said.

“Clearly, if there’s problems with Imperial Lakes in terms of the safety of the dam wall, which is what I hear unofficially, then that’s not going to proceed.

“(If it became a feasible option then) I would think the local public would jump at the opportunity for Stephen’s Creek.”

“We certainly need to work with what the state member is suggesting because that’s where the money’s going to come from.”

With the BDT last week reporting that 97% supported the reopening of Imperial Lakes within a 25in25 Committee survey, Mr Nash said that result would likely be replicated for Stephen’s Creek were the possibility of reopening Imperial Lakes impossible. 

“If we were to run the same poll but (stating), ‘you can’t have Imperial Lakes, but you can have Stephen’s Creek’, I’d think you’d get ninety seven per cent (support) of that as well,” he said.

“Stephen’s Creek is another fifteen kilometres out and back but it still makes it eighty five kilometres closer than Copi Hollow. 

“I’m not against those facilities, we want them as well, but there is a cost impost these days to travel to Menindee and back.

“Two hundred kilometres is twenty litres of fuel so it’s a thirty dollar round trip just to get your car out there and back.

“So I’d be very supportive of Stephen’s Creek if it ticks all the boxes (for things like) power boats, leisure craft, paddle boards, kayaks, swimming and all of that.” 

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