‘We should consider pausing the light rail’
MAYORAL contender Mona Hecke has suggested "pausing" the light rail after construction of its Broadbeach to Burleigh Heads link is completed.
Transport issues and the future of major infrastructure projects were among the many topics discussed during the first mayoral candidates debates yesterday.
Ms Hecke and Mayor Tom Tate faced off in front of a crowd of more than 50 people at a lunch hosted by the Gold Coast branch of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) at the Surfers Paradise Hilton.
Both candidates were asked their views on the future of the light rail route once Stage 3A is completed in 2023.
Cr Tate told the audience he favoured it continuing direct to Coolangatta via Gold Coast Airport alongside the extension of the heavy rail south of Varsity Lakes.
But Ms Hecke said she was in favour of a different option.
"I think with the progression of light rail stage 3A through to Burleigh it would be an opportune time for us to pause and look at the direction of light rail linking up to our heavy rail corridor at Varsity which could then look after the population down in Elanora who have very little public transport access to the rest of the Gold Coast," she said.
"There is a lot of new technology that is constantly coming out with regards to transport and it would be a good opportunity to look at other transport options which we could do be it trackless trams or electric buses."
Cr Tate responded that any "pause" would delay light rail extensions by a generation.
Ms Hecke was also questioned about her views on development around transit corridors, particularly in Palm Beach, where residents have been up in arms about a wave of towers proposed or under construction.
She said most residents were not upset about the height of towers but instead the density of projects.
"Most people would be quite happy with medium density … most people don't object to beautiful high-rises and good design … we need our accommodation on transport corridors.
"There would be no point in putting them in areas where there is no suitable infrastructure," she said.
"Medium scale which I think most people would agree is suitable in those transport corridors would be nine stories. Nine or 10 storeys."
Speaking for more than an hour, both candidates discussed their vision for the city:
* Ms Hecke warned the Gold Coast was at a "tipping point" and needed a shift in how the city was managed, saying there were significant issue to address including transport and diversifying the economy.
* Cr Tate said the most significant issue facing the Gold Coast was planning for the growth the city was experiencing as it faced having a population of more than one million by 2041.