Minister for Disability Services, Mental Health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt has announced a new multi-purpose public cyclone shelter will be built at the Edmonton Leisure Centre on Walker Road to the south of the Cairns CBD.

Minister Pitt said it was one of 10 multi-purpose cyclone shelters to be delivered in North Queensland via a joint $60 million fund established by the emirate of Abu Dhabi and the State Government.

“This cyclone shelter will make the southern corridor of Cairns and our region generally more resilient and safer than ever before,” Mr Pitt said.

“Cyclone Yasi showed us just how destructive Mother Nature can be, and we need to be prepared for future events of similar intensity.

“This shelter will help to safeguard people’s lives for years to come, and it also reflects the strong friendship and enduring ties between Queensland and Abu Dhabi.”

“The site will provide a shelter for evacuees from the Cairns CBD and the southern suburbs of Cairns.

“Cairns Regional Council has been in the process of designing the first stage of a large community recreational facility including indoor sporting facilities.

“The new facility will be made bigger and better as a result of these funds.

“It will accommodate multiple indoor sports court areas that have the potential to shelter for more than 1800 people and the neighbouring Isabella State School oval will provide helicopter access.

“The site has good access from evacuation areas of Cairns and is not subject to storm tide inundation, flooding or landslip.

“The Edmonton shelter will complement the existing facility at Redlynch State College which provides a shelter for the northern beaches area of Cairns,” he said.

Mr Pitt said the importance of the facility’s every day use cannot be overlooked.

“There’s a recognised need for an indoor multi-purpose facility for the Edmonton area, particularly for young people under 18 who make up around one-third of the population.

“One of my key priorities has been to push for such a facility to serve the needs of local people to help them lead active and healthy lives.

“This is a real win for our community, not only as a place of safety during a cyclonic event but also for sport and recreation in the southern suburbs of Cairns,” Mr Pitt said.

Premier Anna Bligh said the new shelter south of Cairns would bring Queensland’s total number of cyclone shelters built to withstand category 5 cyclones to 14.

Ms Bligh said the Department of Public Works undertook four weeks consultation with MPs and local councils before determining the shelter locations.

“An expert panel conducted detailed investigations of all sites, with assessment teams visiting all the selected sites,” she said.

“The panel determined this to be the best available site for a public cyclone shelter in the Cairns region.”

Government Services and Building Industry Minister Simon Finn said the new multi-purpose cyclone shelter would be designed and constructed to be:

  • capable of providing protection from winds up to 300km/h
  • located above storm tide inundation areas and not vulnerable to landslip and creek or river flooding
  • capable of allowing the floor level of the shelter building to be above the storm tide level or a 1-in-500-year defined flood event level
  • located sufficiently away from significant hazards such as: hazardous materials, large trees, power or communications towers and potential sources of large windborne debris

“The assessment of suitable cyclone shelters has taken into account the requirements of the Design Guidelines for Queensland Public Cyclone Shelters and Mitigating the Adverse Impacts of Cyclones— Evacuation and Shelter,” he said.

“It’s a site that is deemed to be outside of potential storm tide inundation and not at risk from flood, landslip or other significant hazards.”

Cyclone shelters will also be built in Bowen, Ingham, Mackay, Port Douglas, Proserpine, Townsville, Tully, Weipa and Yeppoon.

The Premier said that following a commitment in August 2006 to provide cyclone shelters as public buildings are upgraded in cyclone areas, Queensland already has four Category 5-rated shelters – Cooktown, Kowanyama, Innisfail and Redlynch.