Exploring options for River Heart Parklands resilience

Ipswich City Council will remove some of the most flood-impacted river structures at River Heart Parklands to improve resilience, save millions in repair costs and deliver a more sustainable park for residents.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said while River Heart Parklands was a much-loved part of the city, it was never constructed to withstand the many floods it has experienced since it opened in 2007.

“River Heart Parklands first flooded just 12 months after it had opened, then in 2011, again in the 2013 and 2017 events, twice in 2022 and again in a minor flooding event in January of this year. This represents millions of dollars in continual flood clean up and repairs,” Mayor Harding said.

“Not surprisingly, the overwater structures are significantly damaged from corrosion and structural impacts of this ongoing flooding. It would be financially irresponsible for council to continue to rebuild so close to the Bremer River and keep incurring these costs.

“The parklands are enjoyed by the community, but we know we cannot keep spending ratepayer dollars in fixing them up after each flood. Instead, we will work closely with the Ipswich community on how we can make River Heart Parklands flood resilient.”

The cost of removing the overwater structures is expected to be up to $1 million alone; however, council has decided that removing the structures is the sensible option to avoids future costs in maintaining and repairing these assets when there is another flood.

“I understand that back when River Heart Parklands was built it was probably thought to be flood-proof, but unfortunately the 2011 floods changed the way we think about flood resilience,” Mayor Harding said.

“Moving forward, we look forward to hearing from the community on how we best utilise River Heart Parklands in the future, in a way that works with the Bremer River and not against it.”

Infrastructure, Planning and Assets Committee Chairperson and Division 3 Councillor Andrew Antoniolli acknowledged that River Heart Parklands is one of Ipswich’s most recognisable and popular parklands.

“Its establishment has enabled people to get closer to our river so as to fully embrace its beauty and recognise its importance to our city and the environment,” Cr Antoniolli said.

“However, regular flooding has badly corroded and damaged a number of the structures, particularly the over-water structures.

“Numerous factors and options were considered, however anticipated costs to restore, repair, and maintain were beyond reasonable for Ipswich ratepayers to shoulder.”

On 11 June, the Infrastructure, Planning and Assets committee proposed the removal of most of the ‘over water structures’ to improve resilience, reduce ongoing costs and provide a more sustainable park for residents and full council endorsed that today.

“Maintenance at the parklands will continue while all aspects of this removal are worked through by council,” Cr Antoniolli said.

“We have worked to keep the main thoroughfare open for the community and have installed solar lighting and Safe City cameras. We will soon be commencing landscaping works to improve bank stability and the visual amenity of the parkland.

“Council will be seeking community feedback on the potential future use of the parklands, and I encourage all residents to share their thoughts when this consultation opens in the future.”

Division 3 Councillor Marnie Doyle said residents have always loved walking through River Heart Parklands, enjoying the riverside views and taking time out in nature.

“As a council, it is our responsibility to ensure these popular parklands are safe, flood-resilient and able to be affordably maintained into the future,” Cr Doyle said.

“Structural items removed from River Heart Parklands will be recycled where possible, and disposed of if recycling is not possible.

“Some structures are being removed to avoid ongoing maintenance costs after each flood event.

“Council’s preference would be not to reinstall barbecue facilities, in this section of the parkland, as they are rarely used by the community and are frequently vandalised. However, this will all form part of the community consultation, and decisions will be made based on the outcomes of this feedback.”

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