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Byron Shire
February 4, 2023

Ballina booming, says Mayor David Wright

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Ballina Shire councillors Jeff Johnson, David Wright, Sharon Cadwallader and Eoin Johnston with NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin (centre) at the Lennox Head Cultural Centre. Photo David Lowe.

Ballina Mayor David Wright has been talking a lot about the ‘Ballina boom’ in council and at public functions recently. Love it or hate it, the region is currently undergoing a major growth spurt.

Mayor Wright spoke about the issue at the re-opening of the Lennox Head Cultural Centre this week, which was also attended by the newly reinstated Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin.

The mayor said Ballina Shire’s unprecedented growth was ‘due to its inherent beauty, climate and facilities,’ with a major surge of visitors expected as border restrictions with Queensland are relaxed.

New residents

One of the beautiful unspoiled beaches between Ballina and Lennox. Photo David Lowe.

In terms of people looking at moving to the area permanently, Mayor Wright said, ‘We have an amazing amount of DAs at the moment. Our DAs are 30% above what was our biggest target before. Imagine that!

‘And after talking to Peter Leotta from the Master Builders, he said “you ain’t seen nothing yet”, because they haven’t been taking any orders for the last month or so. We have so many developments going on.

‘We’ve got people wanting to come to our Innovation Precinct out near the airport. It’s going to be unbelievable. There’s going to be top sound innovation, top movie innovation, jobs, and we’ve even got medical people wanting to come there. It’s going to be something special that I don’t think any area of the North Coast has had before.

‘We’ve got talented people, we’ve got some brilliant people, but the younger ones like that haven’t got the opportunity for jobs, and this is the start. Imagine being able to use this facility to showcase a lot of those young people, and to have people coming?’

Cultural showcase

Mayor Wright said he was excited about Byron Studios’ plan to use the Lennox Head Cultural Centre ‘to showcase to the younger people from all the high schools, so they can come here and see the latest movie technology.’

Ballina Coastal Path nearing completion this week. Photo David Lowe.

He added, ‘We have our industrial end going bananas at the moment. Our biggest problem is trying to get it all filled, and get the DAs through, because the planning staff have been so busy.’

Mayor Wright said it was important for councils to stick with projects for the long term.

‘When I was mayor twenty years ago, the-then engineer walked in and said “I’ve just got $300,000 for the coastal path. Now it’s just about finished. In fact there’s two, a Coastal Path and a Coastal Recreation Walk,’ he said.

‘I thank the commonwealth and state governments sincerely for the faith they have shown in Ballina Council’s vision in providing important facilities for citizens and visitors now and into the future.’

Mayor Wright said the Regional Cultural Fund grant ensured that the Cultural Centre would be able to service ‘the rapidly growing needs of our diverse community.’

Airport important

In terms of the wider region, he said, ‘The place is absolutely magic, we’re getting inundated with visitors.

Flights are returning to the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport. Photo David Lowe.

‘Having the foresight 30 years ago to have an airport in our shire, and owning it, it’s been great. We’ve got through COVID, it cost us a fair bit of money, and lost income, but it’s all going to bounce back.

‘Hopefully by Christmas time we’ll have Melbourne flights again and people will be able to come and enjoy our beautiful, friendly, family atmosphere, and uphold the values of Ballina Shire, which is respecting people, looking after people, and trying to enjoy yourself in the beautiful place that we live in.’

Mayor Wright ended with a thank you to Minister Don Harwin, saying ‘There’ll be more thank yous for any more ministers who want to bring cheques up here!’

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