Kathryn McConnochie, Byron Bay
In response to Sue Lennox letter, I read the article by Angela Mollard. Sadly, I found it to be a pretty true account of what has happened to the town of Byron Bay.
Sue didn’t live here before Byron became a mass tourist destination around the globe. I can remember the days when real estate and rents were affordable in town, you knew people in the main street, you didn’t have to lock your car or house, surfing at the Pass was accessible, driving across town was a breeze, and you could walk the streets safely late at night.
I agree with Mollard that the prices are ridiculous, especially real estate. It’s for a reason that the sign on entering Byron has been repeatedly changed to ‘Byron Pay’. The Council’s manipulative sign advising us to ‘Cheer up and Chill Out’ as we are stuck in regular traffic jams, is a failed pseudo New Age propaganda attempt.
The kids who grew up here can’t afford to buy in the Shire. Homelessness is on the rise (See p.16). Developers are pouncing. It’s all about supply and demand, they say.
Byron has been over-promoted worldwide as the most desirable tourist destination in Australia. Celebrities [moving in] are a by-product of that.
There are now 2.2 million tourists visiting annually. How many more do we want? The values of environmental protection and sustainability that residents have fought for since the ‘70s are being displaced by gentrification. People have bought themselves a lifestyle here, but generally haven’t brought with them the values and actions that saved this place. If people really care about protecting Byron from over-development then please join the local community groups fighting to save what is left of it.