Report: Gympie saleyards need to move
NEW digs and private operation may be the future for the Gympie Saleyards within a decade, a council-commissioned report revealed this week.
This is the recommendation made by consultants AEC in their Draft Saleyard Strategy, which says the Araluen saleyard "is not sustainable for the long-term" thanks to problems including urban encroachment and the upcoming opening of the Bruce Highway Gympie Bypass.
It says the clear need for a sub-regional saleyard should prompt planning for a new site.
However given the "significant investment" this would be "it is not considered that Gympie Regional Council should lead this investment, but rather seek interest from the private sector through a market sounding exercise".
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This proposal is one of five possible options: do nothing to the saleyards; upgrade them; stop providing the saleyards as a service; immediately move; or continue as is and move in a few years.
The report says the first three options would lead to declining use of the saleyards over the next 10 years, albeit at varying speeds.
Cost was an issue too - more than $1 million in "high priority" work is needed, plus another $5.3 million in "low priority" work.
Despite AEC's recommendations, councillors were told at this week's workshop the next step was to develop an "assessment framework... to support decision making on future direction and timing".
"Once identified, these criteria can then be assessed and scored against the four (sic) options," a council staff report said.
The loss of the saleyards would leave a financial dent in Gympie's economy.
From 2013-2018, more than 234,000 head of cattle were sold there.
The report estimates $42 million in livestock sales took place last year. All up, the saleyards support $6.6 million in Gross Regional Product, $3.6 million in wages and salaries for workers, and the equivalent of 50 full-time jobs.
Sullivan Livestock owner Dan Sullivan said yesterday the yard represented an underestimated slice of Gympie's economic pie.
"The amount of people that use it... it's a big part," he said.
So far, $300,000 in Works for Queensland funding has been set aside to upgrade safety at the site over the next two years.
The draft strategy is expected to be made available to the public soon.