Sunday, May 26, 2024

Gunnedah awards koala sanctuary contract


A contract has been awarded for construction of Stage 2 of Gunnedah’s new Koala Sanctuary, Gunnedah Shire Council has announced.

The successful tenderer, David Payne Constructions, is expected to finalise designs before beginning construction later this year.

Council voted in July to renew its commitment to the koala sanctuary despite a funding shortfall caused by rising supply and labour costs following the COVID-19 pandemic.

It agreed to seek additional grant funding to cover the shortfall or, should that not be successful, to utilise loan funding to ensure this important project goes ahead.

“Times have changed since we were awarded $6.48 million towards the establishment of the Koala Sanctuary and Education Centre through the NSW Government’s Regional Communities Development Fund in June 2018,” Gunnedah Mayor, Jamie Chaffey said.

“We were right on the brink of a pandemic that has had ramifications across the world in every industry, and construction has been hit hard by escalating costs.

“I’m pleased to say that Gunnedah Shire Council remains committed to this truly exciting project and are making it sure it proceeds.”

The Gunnedah Koala Sanctuary will be a world-class koala park including an educational centre and a learning auditorium, a dedicated centre for sick and injured koalas and native animals for treatment and rehabilitation and will support koala conservation, providing access for the study of native species.

“It will also showcase Gunnedah as the Koala Capital of the World and help ensure koalas remain a part of our lives into the future,” the Mayor said.

“We are thrilled to be proceeding with the Koala Sanctuary and congratulate David Payne Constructions on being awarded the tender. We look forward to working with them to make this a reality.”

Member for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson welcomed the news that ground would soon be broken on one of the most exciting projects in the Gunnedah Shire.

“This latest development in the Gunnedah Koala Park project is a welcome next step on a project that will significantly grow the region’s economy,” Mr Anderson said.

“You can’t carry the title of Koala Capital of the World without the facilities to match and Gunnedah’s world-class Koala Park will reflect the region’s commitment to preserving our most iconic native species.”

Council is in active discussions with potential operators for the park, which will be built in a bushland setting with Oxley Highway frontage.

Stage 1 of the project has included site identification, design, development approval and expressions of interest for construction.

Council has already planted more than 5,000 eucalyptus fodder trees that will be used as a food source and perching for the care facility. The development application for the sanctuary was approved by the NSW Government in late 2021 and works will commence on site within the next few months.

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