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Ski park lease under fire as gym opens on public land

Questions are being raised over the use of the Oz Ski Resort at Coolum.
Questions are being raised over the use of the Oz Ski Resort at Coolum. Contributed

FORMER world water ski champion Emma Sheers has opened up a gym with a creche and hydro-pool on the public land she will lease from the Sunshine Coast Council for $6000 this year.

Ms Sheers' Oz Ski Resort is also leasing out two rooms at the gym for "a therapist" at an asking price of $31,200 a year.

Sunshine Coast councillor Greg Rogerson has filed a Notice of Motion for a council meeting tomorrow calling for a full report as to how Oz Ski Resort has been able to use the land at Quanda Park at Coolum for "ancillary purposes".

The gym will add to the facilities at the site, which Ms Sheers' Oz Ski Resort obtained through a controversial tender process with a "peppercorn lease" in 2013.

The popular Aqua Fun park is also on the site. Its owner sub-leases from Ms Sheers.

The council has been criticised for the tender process in which Ms Sheers gained access to the lake site ahead of community groups.

READ MS SHEERS' RESPONSE HERE 

Coolum Surf Club president John Roderick said his club had approached Ms Sheers to run a nippers' program on the lake, but "decided to not negotiate further" after she requested a "cash-in-hand" payment.

It was speculated Ms Sheers was only paying $1500 a year for the site, where she lives as a "caretaker".

But divisional councillor Stephen Robinson has revealed the lease, which started in January, 2013, with an annual rental of $2000 plus GST, had increased to $4000 in 2014 and $6000 in 2015.

It would increase to $8000 in 2016 and $10,000 in 2017 with a market review earmarked for January 1, 2018.

The lease expires on January 1, 2022, with options to extend.

Coolum businessman John Higgins said business owners were incensed that Ms Sheers was allowed to open a gym without having to pay commercial rates.

"She is going away from the main focus why the council gave the site to her (to open a water ski park)," he said.

"The lakes should have been left over to the community."

Cr Robinson said the public had full access to the lake banks during business hours.

"Oz Ski has installed, at their cost, picnic areas including a large shelter with barbecues. Toilets have also been built," he said.

But people weren't allowed to swim in the lake because "Oz Ski controls use of the water area for public safety purposes".

 


Maroochy Water Ski president Ian Grant said he was astonished a gym had opened on the lakes his group had hoped to practise on.

"The lake should be open to the community as a community-owned asset," he said.

"The council handed it over to her and her commercial operation for peanuts."

Cr Robinson said Ms Sheers was "complying with all lease conditions which permit a caretaker's premises and a gym under the Training and Recovery Facility component".

"The council undertook an open and transparent Expression of Interest process to lease out Quanda Lakes, with a focus on providing the best outcome for Sunshine Coast Council ratepayers and the community and taking into account a number of criteria including value for money, past experience and general ability to deliver the best service," he said.

"Oz Ski can provide a training facility and attract major sporting events which promote the Sunshine Coast and is a bonus."

Topics:  coolum oz ski resort


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