Tradies vs retailers: Tempers flare over parking quagmire
TEMPERS flared as traders in the Toowoomba CBD met with Grand Central developer QIC at a meeting to deal with the "QIC quagmire".
Traders, QIC, building company Probuild and Toowoomba Regional Council representatives discussed issues with parking which were affecting retailers as the $500m development proceeds.
About 35 people attended the meeting.
Former Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Greg Johnson chaired the meeting.
"There was some 'warm' dialogue during the meeting - and I understood their frustration and concerns," Mr Johnson said.
"Some of the traders were quite passionate.
"These people are investing their lives into small business and shopping strips - and they need things to go their way."
The CBD stakeholders are hoping Mr Johnson can replicate the success he had dealing with similar problems in Jellicoe St and during the construction of the Outer Circulating Road project.
Mr Johnson said it was impossible to resolve the more than 100 suggestions raised during the meeting.
A working group was formed which comprised representatives from council, traders, QIC, and Probuild.
Mr Johnson said with Gardentown gone and part of Margaret St out of bounds, along with Victoria St, parking in the area had become a problem.
He said part of the problem was that staff were parking in the two hour central lane car parks.
"I've always said there's something fundamentally economically stupid about that.
"They're depriving their bosses of having a customer in the shop so they can pay their employees.''
Workwear Discounts owner Bernie Baz said he identified there would be a problem with parking with the demolition of Gardentown and the moving of the library when that was first planned.
But he remains positive about the QIC project.
"For those of us who survive the next two years well - the QIC project will make Toowoomba the best regional shopping hub in Australia."
He said many of the people who were parking in Gardentown and the library shouldn't have been there.
"For the best part of over a year we've had a number of traffic disruptions, because of the drainage works and this is just another chapter of the ongoing story of revitalising the CBD," he said.
"It's been tough down here for quite a while.
"We've responded by concentrating on our corporate and online customers.
"We're doing okay but I do worry about those small businesses around us that don't have the marketing budget that we have - to attract people downtown to shop."
He said staff parking in the central spots had been a problem for 15 years.
Councillors Tait, Williams, Glasheen, Gouldson and Taylor and Infrastructure Services general manager Mike Brady represented council.
A QIC spokesperson said QIC lodged the development application for the project in March 2012, and in line with the statutory approval process, the community was able to review and comment on it.
After the development application approval in 2013 the works associated with the project have been comprehensively planned for over a number of years in close consultation with Toowoomba Regional Council.
"Detailed construction and traffic management plans have been put in place so that works are staged to reduce impacts to the general public, local businesses and neighbours, as far as practically possible.
"We have been advised by our construction contractor, Probuild, that all works are being undertaken in compliance with council approvals and requirements. We will continue to work with Probuild to ensure these requirements are maintained.
"The closure of car parks within the Gardentown project site and changes to street access have been necessary to enable works for the development to occur as quickly as possible and in a safe manner.
"We acknowledge access to car parking in the Toowoomba CBD is important for traders and our site neighbours, which is why we stipulated in our contract with Probuild that their employees could not park within the CBD.
"At the meeting, Probuild confirmed this contractual obligation is being maintained, and staff movements are being monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure the company continues to meet this obligation in the future.
". . . we have worked with council . . . by putting in place plans that reduce construction impacts, and we will continue to address the issues raised by CBD businesses.''
- Dust was raised construction works
- The repair of certain parts of the road that have been dug up
- Street closures that go on forever without any action