The Echo very much looks forward to a new Byron Shire general manager being appointed and some fresh councillor faces after the September 8 elections.
So far the debate has been mainly rhetorical, but now is the time to talk about how this community can pull together and work more collaboratively. Sounds like a joke, right? But nobody can deny it’s desperately needed.
There are so many conflicting egos and ideals in this region that whoever lands the vacant spots of general manager and mayor will be under immense pressure to produce at least some level of unity. Previously both ended up in a tit-for-tat squabble where the only winners were lawyers.
Here are a few issues to ponder over until ballot day:
Address and review unexecuted Council motions. Councillors’ many requests to staff has led to a cyber graveyard of well-intentioned but forgotten motions.
There is no doubt that tourism is the dominant economy, but what of other sectors that, with the right nurturing, could provide the resilience that this community continually espouses? Food production, manufacturing, creative arts and IT come to mind.
Addressing affordable housing could perhaps be achieved by investigating working models in neighbouring shires.
Byron Bay has needed a bypass for over 20 years, and as the Ocean Shores population is almost as large, it too could do with basic infrastructure.
An equitable festival policy is needed as well; it’s not just two major events we have in this Shire, it’s two major event companies who want to ramp up their event sites that we have to deal with.
Other big elephants in the room are holiday letting and the social problems caused by a binge-drinking culture. And let’s not forget potholes and grubby public toilets.
One last thing: a great start to freshening up Council would be to rename our infrastructure. Poor language usage divides and confuses. Until something vaguely cultural is held there, the Byron Regional Sports and Cultural Complex should be just called the Ewingsdale Sports Facility.
National and global media continually analyse this community whether we like it or not. Those outside our bubble often mock our differences and ridicule the commitment we have to the environment and social issues.
Let’s be a smart unified council so we can tell them – and the NSW government – to go fuck themselves when needed.