Land transfer progress welcomed by Dampier community

Alicia PereraPilbara News
The Red Dog Visitor Bay is one of the community assets set to be transferred from Rio Tinto to the City of Karratha under the planned land transfer agreement.
Camera IconThe Red Dog Visitor Bay is one of the community assets set to be transferred from Rio Tinto to the City of Karratha under the planned land transfer agreement. Credit: Alicia Perera

The Dampier community has welcomed council approval for a long-awaited plan to transfer a host of community sites from Rio Tinto to City of Karratha ownership as a key step towards “normalising” the port town.

On Monday, January 21, City of Karratha councillors gave in-principle support to work towards transferring the ownership of land held by Rio under either freehold or lease to the local government, marking significant progress towards a formal agreement between the organisations that has been planned for about 35 years.

Among the community sites part of the talks are Hampton Harbour Boat and Sailing Club, the Dampier foreshore and public boat ramp, Hampton Oval and Windy Ridge Oval, Dampier Bowling Club, tennis and squash courts, Jurat Park, Hardy Reserve, Red Dog Entry Bay and the Dampier Lookout.

Dampier Community Association president Gill Furlong said the group was pleased the deal had received the go-ahead from the council and hoped it would lead to a rejuvenation of local assets and promote tourism.

“I think it would be a really positive thing for the Dampier community. We’ve been working towards normalisation for a long time,” she said.

“We pay rates to the City, so I think it should be the City that manages our buildings and public spaces.

“I hope we get an upgrade to our facilities, because a lot of our facilities are looking very tired and need a lot of work so hopefully the City will support those upgrades for us.”

Hampton Harbour Boat and Sailing Club manager and Dampier resident Katie Meadows said a formal transfer agreement would put community development in Dampier on par with that of most other towns in the City area.

“If we have the support of the City in going forward with projects, that’s only going to be a good thing,” she said.

HHBSC Dampier marina committee chairman Will Scott said council approval for the deal would help move along plans for the long-awaited town marina.

“It really gives the club a lot more security of tenure, because an agreement with the (City) is better than an agreement with a mining company,” he said.

“It speeds up the whole process because the land tenure part of it was a really big step.”

City Mayor Peter Long said the main focus would be upgrading ageing infrastructure, though the agreement could especially assist the City in its plans to redevelop Dampier Palms and Hampton Oval and build a marina in the town.

“The proposed agreement is a significant step towards normalisation of Dampier that will enable the City to ensure a consistent level of service across all community infrastructure in each town,” he said.

“This agreement has been a long time in the making.”

Rio Tinto managing director of port, rail and core services Ivan Vella said the move reflected Rio and the City’s co-operation to realise a “shared vision” for Dampier.

“This is an important step towards progressing the transfer, which will significantly enhance community facilities and infrastructure in the region,” he said.

Rio also committed to making a $6 million contribution towards the management and upgrade of the selected sites, and will allocate another $2.5 million towards the City’s planned Dampier Palms and Hampton Oval redevelopment.

The next step for the deal will be for the City to begin formal negotiations with the State Government towards reaching an official agreement between the three parties.

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