Let's embrace our city's growth
IT'S with much excitement that I join the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce board as one of its newest committee members.
While I may be new to the chamber, I certainly am not new to Coffs Harbour.
In fact, my great-grandparents first settled in Coffs Harbour some 90 years ago and my grandfather was a banana bender back when the Jetty Foreshore was a sandy open beach dotted with industrial sheds packing ply wood ready to be loaded onto ships off a then-much longer jetty - no need for handrails then.
Back when a night on the town meant a trip out to the dance at Coramba Hall, when Coffs Central was known as "Top Town" and a trip up to Grafton was a big day out in the city.
Times have certainly changed since then and as we push our way towards 2020, it's a very exciting time for our transitioning regional centre.
Now more than ever, it's important that we understand the incredible opportunity that lies ahead.
Post-colonial Australian cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane were traditionally planned for and built as "new".
Even our capital, Canberra, is famous for being built from scratch.
But perhaps the visions for these cities were never big enough.
So as those places wrestle with their own challenges, perhaps now is the time to re-evaluate the role our new cities play in delivering sustainability, productivity and the standard of living we all desire?
Australia is predicted to grow by 12 million people by the middle of this century - that's only 30-odd years away - and while the crux of that population growth will fall to Sydney and Melbourne, State Government-led initiatives supporting the growth of the regions have already begun.
That means Coffs Harbour is set to undergo a period of significant growth and has been pinned to become NSW's second-largest regional city by 2036, growing to an estimated 96,000-plus.
But should we be looking towards 2036 or even 2050?
Perhaps Coffs Harbour's vision should be bigger again?
We live in an incredibly beautiful place surrounded by oceans and rainforest and while conversations surrounding growth and development in Coffs Harbour can polarise groups within our local community, perhaps things don't have to be so black and white?
This inevitable period of growth is an opportunity, it's our responsibility and it's our legacy.
Can we as a regional community choose to embrace the facts and grab this with both hands?
Do we have the nous to stand together and talk about creating a beautiful city based on utopian principles of community, inclusion and lifestyle, where the development of our gorgeous coastal assets, key business hubs and community spaces are treated like opportunities rather than threats?
The Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce continues to listen and act on behalf of the business community to champion the betterment of our city.
So I urge you all to take the surveys, get involved, raise your voice and have your say because lots of places in the world are good but Coffs Harbour has the potential to be great.
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