City prepared for next population influx

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

IT seems Gladstone has learnt from past planning mistakes and is ready for an expected influx of people in the next two years.

Three project announcements have hit the headlines in the past week, with all planned to be completed or near completion by 2009.

Add to this a number of industrial projects we are currently waiting on, such as the Aldoga aluminium smelter and Comalco stage two and there appears to be a boom on the way.

The Gladstone Nickel plant, inland rail project and Wiggins Island coal terminal, are expected to bring about 2000 construction jobs.

The Aldoga aluminium smelter and Comalco stage two, which we are still waiting on, could boost that number further, with the possibility of it all happening around the same time.

Community advisory service family support worker Veronica Laverick said social infrastructure struggled during construction of Comalco stage one, resulting in forward planning this time around.

'We really struggled last time, so we went to Gladstone City Council and they included social infrastructure in their corporate plan,' she said.

'So we are being pro-active this time, which is good.'' Gladstone mayor Peter Corones said an infrastructure planning group was formed around the time of the Comalco project to deal with such an issue.

Cr Corones said the group gathered representatives across the region to plan for all forms of infrastructure including the road network.

'I have every confidence that we will be ready and will come through it with flying colours,'' Cr Corones said.

Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited (GAPDL) chief executive Danial Rochford said a growth management strategy had been put in place to help plan for such an influx of people.

Mr Rochford said lessons had been learnt during the last major industry boom to help prepare them for the expected upcoming influx.

'Every time there is a major construction, we learn from it and I think it is fair to say that we are in a better position now,' he said.



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