At the November Council Meeting, Gunnedah Shire Council resolved to offer up to $100,000 funding over twelve months for the Gunnedah Waterways Wildlife Park. The funds were proposed to cover up to $75,000 for the appointment of a Wildlife Park Manager, and up to $25,000 for the accommodation of the manager who would be instituted at the park as part of a strategic plan to improve compliance and enable the park to remain open now and into the future.
The park has been experiencing difficulty for some time and Council has been working closely with the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the Smalls to navigate an outcome that ensures the park will stay open. The DPI is seeking a number of extensive changes to park operations which would be required to ensure compliance with State regulations and to secure the long term viability of the Park.
One of the outcomes being sought by the DPI included the handing over of day-to-day operations of the park which resulted in Council’s offer of assistance to fund a park manager position. Subsequently the Smalls have decided to decline Council’s offer and are now pursuing another option, which involves them directly negotiating terms with the DPI.
“The Gunnedah community have been behind Mr and Mrs Small the whole way. Over the years, they have worked tirelessly and our community has benefitted greatly because of their efforts. I completely understand and respect the right of Nancy and Col to determine the future of their park.
Handing over management of the park would be difficult for anyone in their position. However, the engagement of a Park Manager would seem to be one of the key changes being sought by the DPI, which was the reason Council offered the funding” Gunnedah Shire Council Mayor Jamie Chaffey said.
“The Waterways Wildlife Park, and the volunteers that run it, are assets to our community and I remain supportive as the fight continues to keep the doors open,” he concluded.
Media Contact: Eliza Gallen 6740 2100.