Hugh Downie, Federal
I should start off by stating I am pro-development in Byron Shire. I come from a tourism perspective (40+ years) so have witnessed the slow change in boutique resort towns across the globe.
On my first visit to Acapulco and Cancun there wasn’t a ‘golden arch’ to be seen. But times change and in my opinion, we must not hold back a development because we feel we have a given right to protect ‘our’ town.
I recall the laughable TV interview 12-odd years ago when the chairman of Byron business owners association criticised the wish for a (heaven help us) chain store wishing to take up a lease in town. How hypocritical.
The blinkered attitude of so many people within this Shire would never have allowed the expansion of Ballina Airport that now rivals Coolangatta as the main air gateway to Byron.
A hotel of this size will be of huge benefit to the town and its shopkeepers. Apartments, while smaller in number per site, are mostly families. A hotel will appeal to couples with a higher disposable income and discretionary spend.
I arrived here when the whole debate about Club Med coming to town was in everyone’s mind. I can still hear the cries ‘it will spoil our little bit of paradise, it’s the thin end of the wedge, it will never be the same again, just wait for Big Mac to arrive’.
Now we have Elements, a concrete monstrosity with an electric train reminiscent of a Disney resort. Is that good for Byron? Is that the right image? If you came here 20-odd years ago, then the answer surely has to be no.
Is the fact that areas of Byron are almost exclusively taken over by families from an area of Melbourne good for the diversity of the Shire? Of course not, but it has happened. We have created enclaves of taste.
This negativity slows the advance of life. None of us wants to die, but it’s inevitable. Accept it and work with it. Because, sure as hell, it’s going to happen.