November 3, 2021
An error on a Google map is putting a Hivesville woman’s life at risk, the South Burnett Regional Council was told on Wednesday.
Google Maps shows the same street in two locations with two lengths, and neither of them is correct.
This error is causing confusion for ambulance officers and emergency services workers who use Google Maps as part of their toolset.
The problem was discussed at Wednesday’s Infrastructure Standing Committee meeting.
SBRC Councillors were considering a recommendation from officers to upgrade Whelan Street in Hivesville from an unformed road to an unsealed gravel road as part of next year’s capital works program at an estimated cost of $40,000, and also to add the road to Council’s regular road maintenance program.
Officers said the road had never been maintained by the SBRC since the Council was formed in 2008.
They also noted that because Whelan Street is a narrow, 10m-wide laneway with a right-angled bend near the middle, normal road maintenance graders and water trucks would have difficulty servicing it.
So they suggested that if Councillors agreed to the proposal, staff use a backhoe or bobcat to carry out spot maintenance and repairs, noting this would result in a lower standard of maintenance than patrol grading.
Cr Kathy Duff urged her fellow Councillors to agree to the motion and get the upgrade done as soon as possible.
She told the meeting a woman in the street had potentially life-threatening health problems.
However ambulance officers had already experienced difficulties locating her property. The narrow laneway that led to it – which turned into a mud pit after heavy rain – was not helping either.
Cr Duff said she had contacted an authoritative source who had confirmed the former Wondai Shire Council used to maintain Whelan Road prior to the 2008 council amalgamation.
She said while there were only three properties currently using the 200 metre road for access, securing that access was critical for one resident.
Cr Danita Potter asked if Whelan Road was signposted and officers confirmed it was.
Cr Kirstie Schumacher said she was aware of similar roads in other towns and this indicated to her the problem was much larger than Whelan Street.
This meant that if it was going to be solved, Council needed hard data to work out the best way to address the problem.
She said for this reason she could not support Cr Duff’s motion, and suggested an alternative motion that officers bring a report back to the May 2022 meeting detailing all the unformed roads in the region where residents had made inquiries to Council about road maintenance so further planning could be undertaken to consider these issues.
When put to a vote, Cr Duff’s motion to immediately upgrade Whelan Street was defeated 5 to 2, with only Cr Duff and Mayor Otto in favour.
Cr Schumacher’s motion to re-examine the issue on a region-wide basis was then carried unanimously.