We must not allow intemperate decisions by a few people to put Byron Bay’s sustainable future at risk. The over $200,000 that Council voted last week to spend on trying to increase traffic flow into Byron’s CBD is premature when Council and the community are still deeply engaged in finding the best future for the village via the master planning process.
It is hard to understand why the councillors who voted for this feel it is okay to ignore their own recent commitment to community consultation and remove the decision from the very skilled and experienced team of master planners they have employed to look at exactly this issue.
Byron Bay is one of the most special coastal villages in Australia but it is under extraordinary pressure from many angles. Council’s decision last year to have a master plan prepared was astute, wise and prescient. Not to be forgotten though is that such a plan is way overdue and previous councils should hang their heads in shame for not seeing the need earlier.
We do not know what the masterplan will recommend until later in 2015; however, the process must be allowed to run its course. Otherwise we throw out the opportunity to discover the best future for Byron Bay, what could be the most important decision since closing those highly polluting industrial nightmares of whaling, meat abattoir and beach mining just a few decades ago. Those decisions back then saved Byron Bay for all of us to enjoy and thrive in now.
Now it is time to develop the plan to take us forward, as the community wants it, over the next few decades.
Ian Oelrichs OAM, Fellow, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, Coopers Shoot