NEW OPPORTUNITIES: The completion of the new Grafton bridge, due to open before Christmas, will signal a new era for the city.
NEW OPPORTUNITIES: The completion of the new Grafton bridge, due to open before Christmas, will signal a new era for the city. RMS

Join us on our Future Clarence Valley journey

ARE we doing everything we can to give our kids the best opportunity for their future right here in the Clarence Valley?

Whether it be education, employment, health or simply the cultural and sporting pursuits that are currently available, I want to start this discussion with you today.

This Monday we launch Future Clarence Valley, a campaign to drive conversation about what we want the community to look like in 2050, and what needs to be done to achieve this.

We commissioned Australia's leading demographer and trends forecaster Bernard Salt to compile an exclusive research report using demographic, economic and social data to create a unique view of the challenges and opportunities ahead for local regions.

The findings are ground-breaking; the potential outcomes from the analysis are revolutionary.

It's not about turning the place upside down and starting again. For example, Yamba has different characteristics to Grafton. It's about building on each of their stengths to benefit the community as a whole.

"Like a watch, you have the Grafton cog and the Yamba cog, and they should work together for the greater community,” Mr Salt told The Daily Examiner.

How do we tap into the entrepeneurial lifestyle on offer at Yamba? How do we prepare Grafton to grow effectively as an administrative centre?

Future Clarence Valley is not intended to reinvent the wheel either. We acknowledge a lot of planning has already been conducted by the likes of Clarence Valley Council, the chambers of commerce and other community and business organisations.

Rather, we want to support their initiatives, highlight the best ideas to the broader community and proactively engage with those stakeholders to help bring these visions to reality.

Most projections point to significant population growth. The reality is our statistics reveal population has remained relatively stagnant this century, and there's no guarantee that's about to change. The key is ensuring we provide the facilities required to attract and provide for a larger population.

Through Mr Salt's research, we can directly canvass other slightly larger centres to pinpoint what they have and we don't in order to facilitate that growth.

There's already a lot happening right now (eg new jail, highway bypass, new bridges, university centre, agricultural boom), and a lot on the horizon (eg hospital development, Grafton and Ulmarra riverfronts, art gallery upgrade). But what about beyond that? Do we want to create a transport hub? Be part of a high speed rail network? Build a sports stadium to attract NRL matches? Revamp the Grafton CBD? Demand we get a Kmart? Seriously, there's a lot of possibilities.

The media has the ability to send a powerful message to governments and organisations. Together with the community we can speed up the process, as demonstrated by our Let's Not Wait - Fix Ulmarra Blackspot campaign in 2018.

We want to continue to campaign for the achievable initiatives that will have the greatest positive impact on our community.

Our objective is to drive momentum and initiate action towards specific common goals to help create an even more liveable, happier and thriving version of the Clarence Valley to the one we already proudly call home.

Email me your thoughts on the directions you would like to see for Clarence Valley's future.

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