Squawking at the aviary of city hall is likely to increase as councillors divide in preparation for a vote on a $750,000 bird habitat.
The city’s sewerage services function plan allows for the construction of a bird wading area and bird hide for bird watchers at the Troy Junction Sewage Treatment plant.
The recommendation before the council comes after months of focus on water, with residential property owners set to pay more for their water and copping a 3.5 per cent increase on stormwater charges and a 5 per cent increase on sewer charges in the 2009/10 draft management plan.
Dubbo mayor Greg Matthews this week indicated he would vote for the half-a-million-dollar bird wading area, but not the $250,000 bird hide.
Neither projects gained the support of Councillor Ben Shields who said it was a disgrace.
Dubbo’s former sewerage works at Bunglegumbie was an acknowledged water bird breeding area and habitat, the council’s technical services director Stewart McLeod said.
When the decision was made to close the site and upgrade the Troy Junction facility, it was on the condition that a bird wading area would be made to replace the lost bird habitat.
Fast forward almost 10 years and that condition is now coming home to roost for the current councillors.
Cr Matthews accepts that condition, putting his vote behind the bird wading area, but put his foot down about the optional $250,000 bird hide.
The mayor gave higher priority to other sewerage projects.
“$250,000 may go a long way to do what we want to in Wongarbon,” he said.
Cr Shields is opposed to the whole construction project, calling $750,000 “grand for a wildlife area”.
He says the council should renegotiate the bird wading area condition.
“The council didn’t have its eye on the wheel when it was making that decision,” he said.
“Ratepayers wouldn’t be impressed.”
Cr Shields said he was in favour of taking positive environmental actions but that $750,000 could buy many trees and effluent treatment facilities.
Local birdwatcher Terry Korn says a variety of bird species including ducks, plovers, black swans, herrons and pelicans used to be found at the Bunglegumbie site.