Drummond Cove boat ramp project on the rocks after funding shortfall

Phoebe Pin and Lachlan Allen Geraldton Guardian
Drummond Cove Progress Association members Peter Stratford, Adrian Carter and Todd West with State Environment Minister Stephen Dawson and Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton.
Camera IconDrummond Cove Progress Association members Peter Stratford, Adrian Carter and Todd West with State Environment Minister Stephen Dawson and Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian/Elise Van/Elise Van

Plans more than a decade in the making to install a boat ramp in Geraldton’s north are under threat due to skyrocketing construction costs and Federal Government funding knockbacks.

The Drummond Cove Progress Association has been campaigning for the ramp for more than 10 years, with the Liberal, Nationals and Labor parties all making the project a key election commitment last year.

The 2021-22 State Budget allocated $3.2 million for upgrades at Drummond Cove to manage coastal erosion and improve community recreation facilities — cash which was set aside for the boat ramp.

Initial estimates in 2017 had the project costing between $7 million and $9 million, but it was revealed at a meeting between the Department of Transport and the DCPA on Monday that the figure would now be closer to $12.5 million.

A grant application for the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions funding was also rejected, leaving the project about $9 million short.

Association president Brent Allen said the Department had looked at installing a stand-alone boat ramp as an alternative but determined this would not be suitable due to local swell and surge conditions.

Mr Allen said the DCPA had to now decide if the State funding would be used for boat ramp planning activities or other coastal protection projects.

“If we spend that money on planning, that would put us in a better position to leverage for funding from the Federal Government,” he said.

“At the moment we are still going to keep pushing for a boat ramp and ask the State Government for more funding. We are going to touch base with (Durack MHR) Melissa Price to see if there is the potential to try to leverage for Federal funding.

“The ball is in our court.”

City of Greater Geraldton mayor Shane Van Styn said the city supported the project but was not able to fund the boat ramp on its own.

“The city has already invested around $700,000 in coastal protection works on Whitehill Road. The concept for a boat ramp ... was always going to be significantly more than the $3 million committed (by the State Government) and the city does not have that sort of money lying around to create a boat ramp,” he said.

“We’d like to see the State Government invest in the boat ramp to the level required to deliver it. They have no problem spending a couple of million on a marina in Port Hedland and jetties in Esperance to Broome worth many millions of dollars.

“We think it would only be fair that Geraldton receive a similar amount of funding to deliver the boat ramp as promised by the State Government.”

Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton refuted claims the State Government was backing out of its election promise.

“There is no way there is a backflip to what we are committing, because we always said we would commit $3.2 million to protecting and improving Drummond Cove,” she told ABC Radio.

“(The boat ramp project) is at a consultation period at the moment. I am working very closely with the community and (DCPA) to find out what they actually want.

“We are still at early stages and we are still committed to working with the community to find out what that looks like.”

The DCPA will consult with the community before advising the Department of Transport of its decision towards the end of April.

Ms Price and the Department of Transport were contacted for comment.

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