CUNNINGHAM Pier would be a $20 million buy that was completely unsuitable for Geelong’s cruise ship ambitions, according to an independent study.
An independent study of cruise ship berth option for Geelong — comparing the benefits of buying and refitting Cunningham Pier with a new Yarra Street pier — found the Costa Property Group-owned Cunningham Pier was not viable option.
The business case, funded by State Government and City Hall, found a new Yarra Street pier would be 2.5 times more cost-effective than revamping the ageing Cunningham pier.
Geelong mayor Darryn Lyons yesterday said that in purely practical terms, Cunningham Pier was too short to accommodate the larger Vision class cruise ships and would limit Geelong’s ability to establish itself as a major cruise ship destination.
He was backed by the Geelong region’s five councils who have mounted a social media campaign in favour of the Yarra Street option, targetting the State Government and Opposition, the greens and local MPs.
Cr Lyons said the Cunningham Pier option would not provide additional major event opportunities to Geelong.
“The Yarra Street Pier project would enable the Royal Geelong Yacht Club to expand the Festival of Sails event and would help Geelong to attract more sailing events, as well as other water-based events such as triathlons,” he said.
Cunningham Pier would not provide additional marina berths or wave protection to the existing Royal Geelong Yacht Club marina, he said.
Other problems using Cunningham Pier for cruise ships included the need to close access to its restaurant complex and shut the commercial car park when cruise ship visited because of customs requirements.
“Council would be forced to pay compensation to the businesses on the pier each time a cruise ship berthed,” Cr Lyons said.
Yarra Street Pier would create 430 new jobs for Geelong and 522 jobs statewide. The economic benefit to Geelong has been forecast at $61.4 million and $80.1 million to Victoria as a
— NOEL MURPHY