BEC’s future

John Lazarus, Byron Bay

Where to for Byron? The next bit of the bigger picture, regarding the Railway Park rotunda saga, will be played out at the 23 August Council meeting. Council’s Cultural Policy, Homeless Policy and Protocol, Public Art Policy, commitment to supporting the environment, and recognition of the Shire’s Aboriginal heritage appear to have all bee sidelined for a transition of Railway Park to niceness, with a big dollop of extra commercialism.

In the 1970s the first big forest protests in the world marked this region as special, and put protection of the environment on the table and into government and business practices for the first time in history.

This Shire’s passion, acknowledgement, and respect for Aboriginal people and their heritage of this land drove strong community support for them to pursue Indigenous land use agreements and Native Title.

From campaigning for the Byron Marine Park to saving the fig trees beside the pedestrian crossing in front of Railway Park to the CSG, West Byron and Adani campaigns, the Byron Environment Centre (BEC) has been there. And there in Railway Park for 16 years, in an unauthorised occupation to save a structure that was proposed to be bulldozed. Saved for a BEC base, and for a resource for any other park community initiative. Australia’s most easterly squat, and proud of it!

This Shire’s international reputation was built on an eclectic ragtag community with a bit of an eclectic ragtag-built Byron Bay; niceness relegates us to third place behind the Gold Coast and Coffs Harbour.

The BEC is used to campaigning, but not normally directly against Council, but hey, if that’s the way forward to protect the people of this Shire’s hard work, and hard-fought-for initiatives, then…

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