Byron Shire Council says nearly 3000 people have shared ideas, provided feedback and had their say to help shape its draft Community Strategic Plan, which has been released for public comment until the end of March.
It’s still not too late to have your say but you will need to act quickly.
Byron Shire Council’s Acting General Manager, Mark Arnold, said he was ‘pleased with the level of involvement with nearly ten per cent of the population having their say – but not surprised given how passionate and active the Byron Shire community is’.
‘We heard overwhelmingly that your priorities include improving infrastructure, managing growth and change and balancing benefits and impacts of tourism,’ Mr Arnold said.
‘We also heard that we should focus on embracing community-led decision making, continuing to protect the natural environment, addressing housing affordability, supporting arts and cultural programs, improving transport and connecting the community.
The council has recently announced it will implement so-called citizen juries (groups of randomly selected community members) to help deal with the impression councillors are too remote from their constituents.
The mass engagement of residents has followed with a series of face-to-face meetings.
‘Over six weeks we did 76 hours of face-to-face engagement to understand what people liked about the Byron Shire and where the community collectively wanted to be in ten years,’ Mr Arnold said.
‘We visited towns, villages, markets and schools across the shire, held community and stakeholder workshops, asked for input online and surveyed local businesses.
‘Some 2,769 people shared their thoughts and ideas with us and these have been used to inform our new Community Strategic Plan, Our Byron, Our Future, which sets an overarching vision for this Shire for the next ten years and what strategies can be implemented to achieve this,’ Mr Arnold said.
‘We also partnered with Mullumbimby and District Neighbourhood Centre to hear from people who may not usually engage with Council – it was designed as an ongoing conversation between the Centre, Council and the community to build trust, maintain an ongoing dialogue, truly listen and develop a deeper understanding of the community’s needs and concerns.
‘Feedback included lack of community connectedness, access to housing, safety, a lack of trust in groups or organisations and a desire to see action out of engagement.
‘Importantly we’ve used feedback from all the different sources to directly inform our new Community Strategic Plan – Our Byron, Our Future,’ Mr Arnold said.
The draft Community Strategic Plan has five objectives, which were drafted based on the feedback council received from the community:
- We have infrastructure, transport and services that meet our expectations
- We celebrate our lifestyle, culture and sense of community
- We protect and enhance our environment
- We manage growth and change responsibly
- We have community-led decision making which is open and inclusive
‘I am hoping that people will take the time to read the plan and let us know what they think,’ Mr Arnold said.
Still time to have your say
People can do an online survey at yoursaybyronshire.com.au which asks people to share what makes their own area unique, how they feel about our draft vision and what the objectives mean to them.
Our Byron Our Future is on public exhibition until March 30. It will then be presented to Council for final adoption before June 30.
The council is currently developing a ‘four-year delivery program’ to ‘translate the aspirations of the Community Strategic Plan into actions’.
For more information go to www.byron.nsw.gov.au or call Mila Jones on 6626 7000.