10 May 2023

President’s dream comes true as $2.1m CAPS facility takes shape

| Cape York Weekly
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A FIVE-STAR resort is being built in Weipa, yet not one person will be able to book a room.

The luxury facility is only for pets and an on-site caretaker.

The purpose-built site has been the dream of Tonia May for more than seven years.

The co-founder and president of the Cape Animal Protection Shelter said the one-stop-shop for cats and dogs (and other critters) would be a game changer for animal welfare in the region.

“It’s so exciting to see it all coming together,” Ms May said last week.

“There’s still a bit of work to be done but it’s making really good progress.”

Ms May was grinning from ear to ear while walking through the site at Evans Landing.

She told Cape York Weekly that the official opening would bring an ending to the dream that started many years ago.

“I have been working on this concept for the past seven or eight years and I can honestly say it has nearly broken me a few times,” she said.

“But this is not about me, it’s about the community and the kind of facility it deserves.

“Weipa has never had a boarding kennel, struggled to get a full-time vet and lacked services that other communities can access.”

The site will boast a fully equipped clinic, which will be run by a veterinarian company.

“An independent panel of high standing members of our community has been assembled with one CAPS member to make the decision on which vet gets the nod, so this demonstrates a fair and transparent process and decision making to elevate any bias to the applicants,” Ms May said.

“I believe the panel is at the interview stage now, but there will still be some time before a decision is made.”

CAPS will be the owner of the facility, as well as a caretaker house on-site.

“We are going to offer the house rent-free for 12 months to the vet,” Ms May said.

“It’s really important to CAPS that the vet is happy in Weipa and we support them as much as we possibly can.”

Next to the vet clinic will be an administration facility for CAPS’ volunteer army.

Ms May said she expected an influx of volunteers when the new site became operational in 2021. “We have a dedicated group of committee members and foster carers already, but I expect that number to grow once we are in our flash new premises,” she said.

At the rear of the site is a kennel for dogs and an air-conditioned cattery.

“It will have everything a pet owner wants when they are going to be out of town and need somewhere for their pet to stay,” Ms May said.

“We’ll even have quarantine areas so that when an animal comes in, they can be separated from the rest if they have ticks or parvo.”

The facility will hopefully have a small paddock so that livestock such as horses can be boarded or treated.

Weipa Wildlife Care will have space for an office/storage and rehabilitation of wildlife if needed.

“It really is a five-star facility for pets and animals. Weipa is going to be the envy of a lot of other communities,” Ms May said.

The CAPS president said the project would not have been possible without the support of the Australian government which made a large contribution in 2019.

“Last year the Australian government gave us $1.55 million under the Building Better Regions Fund,” Ms May said.

“That covers about 75 per cent of the project cost. The other 25 per cent has been from Goodline, which contributed $518,250 of the total cost, as well as other in-kind measures.”

Rio Tinto Weipa offered the land on a peppercorn lease arrangement, plus donated demountable buildings and in-kind services, such as earthmoving.

Other local businesses have also contributed significantly.

Rob Roy Earthmoving will help to bitumen the car parks and roads around the infrastructure, while Weipa Cabinets and Building will contribute signage.

Others to help out include Weipa Concrete, Sea Swift, Remondis, Weipa Town Authority, Sunshine Mitre 10, Weipa Fishing Classic, Cairns Hardware, Weipa Real Estate, Slade Painters, Bluedon Floor Coverings, Reef Engineering Cairns and the Western Cape College Trades Centre.

“There are many community members who have offered their support and we are extremely grateful,” Ms May said.

“There is still some fundraising to be done to get the finishing touches on the project as it has gone slightly over budget due to factors out of our control.”

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