Houseboat owners who live on a creek in South Australia’s Riverland have been left with no option but to sell their homes after the council told them to make way for a residential and marina development.
- Ral Ral Creek houseboat mooring holders are facing a June 30 lease expiry
- The Renmark Paringa Council says it’s working to try and find them new moorings, but owners say more needs to be done
- Owners may be forced to sell at a less because of the high demand for moorings in the region
The Renmark Paringa Council said it was helping the 23 residents of Ral Ral Creek, who have been permanently moored at the site, to find alternative options around the region.
But with long waitlists for other berths and two months to go until their leases expire, residents are feeling lost and distressed.
Renmark Paringa Houseboat Collective founder Jenny Troeth said the uncertainty was “forcing” some houseboat owners to sell their homes.
“These boats are people’s life savings,” she said.
“It’s upheaving their lives in what they thought was going to be a forever thing, all for the sake of a development.
The council has offered residents a month-to-month lease arrangement after the June 30 eviction date.
But Ms Troeth said the pressing need to sell and the fact that the boats would not be listed with mooring sites was “basically devaluing” the homes..
“Just because we have a houseboat that doesn’t mean to say that we’re millionaires,” she said.
Adrift amid ‘tears of despair’
Chief executive Tony Siviour said Renmark Paringa Council was “sympathetic” to the owners’ predicament.
“That’s why we’ve been working with them on alternative moorings,” he said.
“We’ve been working with a private landowner, making an introduction with an environmental engineering firm that specialises in water engineering to design and undertake the DA process to create some moorings on their property.”
The council has offered the 23 owners about a dozen moorings, distributed through a ballot system, around the Riverland.
But those who remain are struggling to find vacant sites.
“It’s not isolated in terms of the issues we’re dealing with with houseboats,” Mr Siviour said.
Mr Siviour said the council had met with “just about every mooring holder”, but the houseboat collective was calling for a public meeting to be held to allow its members to raise all of their concerns.
Ms Troeth said the council had not provided “clear answers” to the Ral Ral Creek residents’ questions, and that the council is not doing enough to support the transition.
“I’ve seen the tears of despair, I’ve seen the worried looks on faces, the insecurity of the situation,” she said.
“Their boats have been down there for 30 or 40 years.
Tide won’t turn, council says
Mr Siviour has made it clear that the housing and marina development at the Jane Eliza will go ahead.
“What’s set in stone is that council is going to pursue the Jane Eliza — we’ve been pretty open and frank about that,” he said.
“We’re in the request-for-detail stage right now.
“That will probably close in early June and then we’ll be in a position where council can begin talking to their preferred developer.”
Ms Troeth said the houseboat owners would continue to fight.
“If someone came along and said, ‘We’re going to bulldoze your house for a road’, I can imagine what the response to that would be,” she said.