A CRITICAL housing shortage, inadequate parking at the hospital, and the possible loss of the jetty are prime concerns for Bowen’s Chamber of Commerce.
Addressing the annual general meeting (AGM) last Wednesday, chairman Bruce Hedditch said the housing shortage was holding the town back.
The hospital was struggling to attract much-needed doctors and nurses because of a shortage of accommodation for married staff.
The same issue affected schools finding teachers and the police bringing in married officers, Mr Hedditch said.
He said it was not a big problem attracting single staff but attracting senior married people was a cause for concern.
“Years ago, the police, hospital and schools had their own accommodation,” Mr Hedditch said.
“But decisions made by politicians in the past sold off this accommodation and now there is a shortage we need to address.”
The housing shortage, and also problems with childcare, also meant workers in many other industries, particularly mining, were forced to relocate to Mackay and Townsville when, they would prefer to live in Bowen, the meeting heard.
Mr Hedditch said it was time to focus on saving the jetty.
He predicted there would be a lot of community pressure brought to bear to retain it as one of the town’s assets, once the tugboats moved from their berths there to Abbott Point.
He said the Department of Lands would offer it to council, once it was no longer required for the tugboats.
“We need to retain it for future generations, we can’t lose sight of that,” Mr Hedditch said.
Parking at the hospital was another concern. The car park has only 18 bays and there is a need for 50.
He said older people visiting patients often had to park some distance away and had trouble walking up the hill.
Mr Hedditch said the hospital had land behind the (Bowen) bowls club and this could be used for additional parking.
He said the State Government was receiving record royalties from coal and needed to spend it in rural communities, rather than the south-east corner.