Albury ratepayers will open their wallets to invest across the border for the redevelopment of Wodonga’s Gateway Island, in one of the first major ‘two cities, one community’ projects.
Mayors Anna Speedie and Kevin Mack came together yesterday to call for submissions for the site’s masterplan, with Cr Mack saying Albury residents would be happy for their rates to go towards the development.
“[Albury residents] spend a lot of time over here so I suspect they'd be very interested in the Gateway precinct,” he said.
“Ratepayers in both cities need to have the expectation that this is part of that deal.
“There’s no expectation on us to just announce something and not put our money where our mouth is, ultimately Albury ratepayers want to commit to one community and they need to consider what that entails, part of the requirement is to spend money interstate.
“There’s no point having two cities, one community if you’re not invested in it.”
Wodonga council has already received 200 submissions, many focusing on nature-based tourism.
Cr Mack said the councils and ratepayers had committed to the joint venture and investing where it benefits residents on both sides of the border.
He said Albury was looking at running a footbridge across the river.
Cr Mack and Cr Speedie confirmed they would meet soon to discuss how to marry Wodonga’s Gateway Island and Albury’s Murray River Experience masterplans, before approaching state and federal governments.
Cr Mack said the venture was proof they were ‘two cities, one community’.
“Masterplans are something a city owns but the minute we start doing a joint masterplan you know we’re getting into the business of investing in each other’s backyards,” he said.
“We launched on October 13 … that’s three-and-a-half months and we need to start making inroads at this point and this is part of those inroads.”
However Cr Speedie said it had not been decided whether the two projects would become a single regional masterplan.
“Whether they become one, I’m not going to preempt,” she said.
“We need to make sure those two things talk together, absolutely they will be, we also need to be very cognisant we do have two separate state governments.
“While we absolutely go committed to both state governments for our future funding pots – we also need to make sure we are smart enough that we can separate should we need to.”
Cr Speedie and Cr Mack called for Albury-Wodonga residents to submit their thoughts on the masterplan before March 19.