A CONTROVERIAL Harry Potter-themed sound and light show will be relocated to a fenced dog park within the Briars community forest, in a move described as “democracy at work”.
At an unscheduled meeting on Tuesday 13 February councillors voted unanimously – Cr Steve Holland was absent and Cr Lisa Dixon was overseas – for the Warner Bros show to be relocated out of the Briars wildlife sanctuary.
Cr Despi O’Connor, who moved the officer’s recommendation that the event be relocated, said it was “democracy at work”.
Community group Save Briars Sanctuary spokesperson Louise Page said the committee was “ecstatic” with the relocation plans, and was getting on with “next step forward”.
“This is a big call to do things at the Briars, we can perhaps get a Friends group together, and look at ways to protect the peninsula,” she said.
Also revealed during the meeting was that confidential reports presented to councillors in August when they voted on the event would be released online “very shortly”.
At the previous council meeting on 6 February, Cr Anthony Marsh had called for the release of the minutes/decision from the August meeting to allow the community to “see what information the councillors had at hand”.
CEO John Baker told the meeting the relocation was sought due to the rising level of community concern and “angst” about the wildlife sanctuary hosting the event.
He said there was no concern the move and logistical arrangements would hold up the opening of the show in April.
“We are confident, having looked at it, that we can do it [make arrangements for relocation] in time,” he said.
When Cr David Gill raised concerns that the feeling in the community was that council had initially been lured by money in approving the show in the sanctuary, Baker said the council was “not making significant money by hosting this event”.
He said the “impact on the economy, especially over the winter months” played a significant role in the decision, and that the council was expecting to “break even”, despite already acknowledging that the show would help council push forward with significant improvements at the Briars.
In answer to queries from Cr Celi about the expected ecological impacts of holding the event in the community forest, Council’s manager major destinations, recreation and community connection, Rebecca Levy, said due diligence had been carried out.
Levy said there were no listed threatened species in the relocated site, and few ground dwelling mammals that would be impacted by the sound and light show.
“We will continue to work with the ecologists to ensure that the risks to wildlife are absolutely minimised”.
In contrast, the wildlife sanctuary in the Briars is known as a critical habitat for Australia’s largest owl species – the powerful owl, swift parrots and growling grass frogs, and other species.
The unscheduled meeting on Tuesday was called following last Thursday’s (8 February) announcement that Warner Bros and Fever were “re-evaluating the current location” of the event.
Two days earlier the Save Briars Sanctuary group had contacted Peter van Roden, senior vice president, Global Themed Entertainment Warner Bros. Discovery, to explain the community passion for the wildlife sanctuary and the backlash about the event being held there.