Kristen Monty, Ewingsdale
It promises to be a glorious winter day. The whales are passing the Cape; there’s a light southerly wind, you’re planning on a walk, surf, visit to the Farmers Market. Hold on! You’d better leave home before 7:30 am to miss the Ewingsdale Rd traffic and hope there’s a team of parking fairies at The Pass to magically deliver a parking space. If you’re a surfer, a one-wave ticket dispenser (like at the Woollies deli), might come in handy too.
And yet there are plans afoot to take us to tipping point – in the form of West Byron, the largest development in Byron Bay’s history. The DA for Stage 1, ‘Harvest Estate’, a 290-lot development by Gold Coast developer Villa World, is currently being considered by the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP).
In relatively recent times, Byron Bay has been renowned for both the natural beauty of the landscape and the fact that the town is not over-developed. Residents and visitors have enjoyed spending their leisure time in nature – surfing, swimming, walking and valuing the natural beauty of the town.
So, given the current (off season) challenges to enjoying our natural amenities and the numerous environmental challenges faced, we’d be stark raving mad to bring 200, let alone 2000 more people into the equation.
The local Arakwal people have always understood that they have a deep responsibility to nurture country and their cultural and ecological values, sustained for at least 22,000 years before the effects of colonisation and invasion drastically changed their way of life forever.
I think we’d all be wise to learn from the Arakwal people’s respect for Mother Nature and become custodians of the place many of us now call home.
Thankfully, all nine of our elected councillors voted to oppose the current Villa World Byron DA at an extraordinary meeting held last Thursday and six of them are willing to address the JRPP. Let’s hope the panel addresses the issues fairly and with respect for the natural environment.