Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour and council CEO Ken Diehm review town plans for the Hervey Bay Esplanade and surrounding suburbs. Fifty residents from across the region will be selected at random to form a panel that will decide on the future plans for the Esplanade.
Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour and council CEO Ken Diehm review town plans for the Hervey Bay Esplanade and surrounding suburbs. Fifty residents from across the region will be selected at random to form a panel that will decide on the future plans for the Esplanade. Blake Antrobus

REVEALED: How much Esplanade panel members will be paid

THE council will spend about $30,000 paying members of a select panel that will help shape the future of Hervey Bay's premier tourist strip.

It follows the Chronicle revealing the Fraser Coast Regional Council was developing a "deliberative democracy" process to outline a 20-year vision for the Esplanade.

14,000 invitations are being prepared for residents in the community, inviting them to become part of the assessment group.

Fifty residents from across the region will be selected at random for the panel, with an independent demographer to review the census data and applications to ensure the panel's balance.

Each member will spend six full business days over the coming months discussing suggestions and be paid $100 for each of those days.

Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour said the process was an example of "democracy at its purest"

"We know Hervey Bay has grown significantly over the last few decades and in that time the needs, expectations and demands upon the foreshore have changed," Cr Seymour said.

"You have competing community interests, environmental considerations and economic impacts.

"This is about bringing all those together, getting people involved right across the community to make informed decisions."

The development process will involve two stages, the first including wider community engagement over the next month with online surveys, group discussions and drop-in sessions.

The 50-person panel will be formed as part of the second stage, which will involve full days of planning, reading and reviewing previous master plans for the area.

No cost limitations have been placed on suggestions put forward in the decision-making process.

A report on the panel's suggestions will be submitted to the council in September.

Council CEO Ken Diehm said the deliberative democracy method was about putting the community "at the centre of the decision process" rather than the end.

He said similar processes had been successfully trialled and implemented in areas like the City of Greater Geraldton and Melbourne City Council.

"The way you protect against vested interests is you make sure your panel is made up of a broad cross-section of the community," Mr Diehm said.

"Whilst there may be some people who have a strong interest in a particular asset, I expect the panel will self-govern."

Drop-in consultation sessions for the Hervey Bay community to have their say will be held at Bill Fraser Park in Torquay from 9am to 1pm on March 23 and at the Urangan Pier from 9am to 1pm on March 30.