Coastal pathway to become election issue

The completion of the coastal pathway is set to become an issue at the upcoming council elections following mayor Steve Kon’s controversial comments that Burnie should abandon the pathway to Heybridge.

Mr Kons made the comments to The Advocate, saying the pathway east of Burnie was not feasible and the council was effectively abandoning it.

He said there was no appetite from state or federal governments for funding the expensive path but didn’t say whether the council has approached both governments and been rejected.

His comments quickly drew criticism from other Burnie councillors David Pease and Teeny Brumby.

Councillor Brumby said the council had not discussed abandoning the path and Councillor Pease agreed:

“While … we don’t have it in our short-term planning, because we are prioritising getting the western end finished, we never discussed the longer-term issue of the eastern end,” he told The Advocate.

“… we couldn’t afford the 50–50 split that has occurred with much of the project so far because it is going to be an expensive and difficult route to put through but we think this is a prime example of where state and federal governments should be coming together for the good of the north of the state to complete that link.”

Local coastal pathway campaigner Alison Horch said the council needed to explain its position to other councils and the Cradle Coast Authority that have committed to the roll-out of the full path.

Image: Alison Horch

Councillor Brumby agreed the path would benefit the whole region and not just Burnie.  

"We've got to be visionary about the future, we've got to progress things that bring tourism to our region," she said.

Ms Horch is urging investigation of a path on the inland side of the highway as the most cost effective and straight forward route, instead of the corridor that includes Tasrail and Taswater or the steep and option of going over Round Hill:

“I urge people to keep this shared pathway section in the spotlight. If the political will is there, the Burnie to Heybridge section will be built. Seek the commitment of candidates before you vote,” she said in a letter to The Advocate.

The coastal pathway Facebook site is collecting statements from council candidates on their position on the coastal pathway, which Bicycle Network is also publishing on its website.

Councillor Pease has repeated his commitment to the pathway in his statement, as well as foreshadowing a motion of support for the coastal pathway at the September council meeting.

Councillor Amina Keygan has also backed the pathway in her statement:

“I absolutely support the completion of the Coastal Pathway. It is imperative that Burnie is physically connected to the broader region and this connection represents significant opportunity for cycling tourism and community recreation. As part of council, I to work towards a start date for the Burniewill continue Wynyard portion, as well as recommitting to finding a solution for the Wivenhoe to Heybridge portion.”