‘Just bulldoze it’: Calls to relocate Gympie’s CBD after latest flood devastation

‘Just bulldoze it’: Calls to relocate Gympie’s CBD after latest flood devastation

Flood-weary Gympie business owners have joined calls for the central business district to be ‘moved or fixed’ after it was devastated by another flood event, the fourth in three decades. 

The Mary River peaked in Gympie last week at its highest level since the 1890s, flooding the town, stranding travellers, and coating everything with mud.

Local realtor Janzey Pratt said many business owners have had enough and want the CBD relocated or upgraded to prevent future flood heartache.

Janzey and John Pratt spent days cleaning out their real estate business after floodwaters receded.(Supplied: Janzey Pratt)

“Nobody wants to go through this, again.”

Ms Pratt said while some businesses in Mary Street have commenced repairs, there was still water in her store after the flood rose higher than the ceiling.

“Something needs to be done because this just keeps happening over and over again,” she said.

“And it’s getting worse each time that happens.”

She said it was time for all levels of government to seriously consider the CBD’s relocation or undertaking major upgrades.

“It’s a beautiful CBD, but it’s not safe,” she said.

Business chamber pushes for relocation

The head of Gympie’s Chamber of Commerce said it was time to consider relocating the town’s CBD to avoid future flood heartache.

Flood water in a shop
A business under water in the Gympie CBD.(ABC Sunshine Coast: Meg Bolton)

Gympie chamber president Petra van Beek said all levels of government should start discussions about whether the relocation of the street was now necessary.

“Either the street be moved or at least lift those shops up to a mezzanine level and put a car park underneath,” she said.

“So that when we do get the the standard floods, they aren’t affected.”

Ms van Beek said she understood either scenario would be a costly exercise.

“If you say ‘okay, we’re just going to turn that into a beautiful parkland and build new shops, somewhere higher up’, your cost options are going to vary,” she said.

“But I think as far as generating finance for it, it’s going to have to be a collaborative effort.”

Gympie’s Mayor Glen Hartwig agrees.

man standing in front of red building
Mayor Glen Hartwig said a relocation project would need state and federal government support.(ABC News: Nicole Hegarty)

He said the council would not be in a financial position to relocate or upgrade the main street on its own.

“I know as a local government entity we don’t have anywhere near the funds available to do that.”

Mr Hartwig said there would need to be a collaborative approach from all levels of government.

“It would need to be an initiative from the state or the federal government,” he said.

“If that was something they decided we wouldn’t be against it, but it’s not something that we can fund.”

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