The Bundaberg Central Business District.
The Bundaberg Central Business District.

Mayoral candidates share views about the CBD

BOTH Mayoral candidates Jack Dempsey and Helen Blackburn do not consider the CBD to be worse than the performance of other regional city hubs.

Both candidates were asked what their plan would be to reinvigorate the Bundaberg CBD in the next term if they were elected mayor.

Responding to the questions in his current role as Mayor Jack Dempsey said; “I don’t believe we should be talking down the CBD.

“It’s got some tremendous assets including its heritage character and hardworking small business owners.

“Everyone knows that traditional CBDs across Australia have faced pressure from large undercover shopping centres and online outlets.”

He said the best way to reduce the pressure for shop owners was to have a key service in a central location, which would draw in the population.

Previously Cr Dempsey pitched a proposed level 5 hospital as the way to revitalise the CBD, and while not mentioning it as the solution specifically, he did say a medical facility or a learning institution would be an ideal drawcard.

“The proposed SSS development is a great example of this if it obtains approval and goes ahead,” he said.

“The other key is linking the CBD to the riverbank.

“That’s why the council wants through-traffic diverted away from Quay St to unlock opportunities for residential, recreational and tourism connectivity.”

He said that the council was addressing vacant shops through its #lovebundy campaign which highlighted the importance of buying local products, and also used the recent Bundaberg Art Prize event to display artwork in those locations.

Cr Blackburn said that Bundaberg “has one of the healthiest CBDs around” but that the council could do more to help the local retail industry.

One way would be for the council to bring back its charity events, including a mayoral ball, which had been absent from the local events calendar this term.

“This would give people the opportunity to go around the street, find some gear to wear to go to that ball and all the money raised went to charity,” Cr Blackburn said.

“Not only did it allow for local businesses to be used, it also meant money was going into our community to those charities.”

She said “it is tough out there at the moment” for local business owners, but that online shopping was only one small issue. “It certainly can’t be the catalyst on its own for a business to not be successful,” Cr Blackburn said.

“These businesses are trying their hardest and I guess people have a lot more choice than they’ve ever had before.

“But having been a local business owner in the CBD, I can certainly say things have gotten a little tougher in the last four years but people are certainly happy to support local businesses as well.”

Cr Blackburn said that if she was the Mayor, she would be only “one voice” around the table. “I wouldn’t be the oracle that knows everything,” she said.