Following the release of the Jetty Foreshore masterplan survey results the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce wishes to acknowledge that it is pleasing to see all of our community embrace the opportunity to create a thriving and vibrant precinct for our foreshores.
Off the back of one of the most comprehensive consultation processes our city has seen, it is clear that the community is ready to activate and enhance this space for the betterment of our town and community. With many people expressing that the time for change is well overdue.
As a Chamber of Commerce, we welcome the wonderful improvements to public amenities for families, such as the splash park, playground and boardwalk. We also acknowledge the incredible business and economic opportunities that this masterplan can bring to our city, that is soon to be bypassed. The masterplan goes a long way to making this area not only a tourism drawcard, but a wonderful place for local families too.
As with many important projects or issues within our LGA, the Coffs Chamber is privileged to be a representative for the community. The Project Steering Advisory Committee for the Jetty Foreshore Masterplan, is but one of many committees, groups and projects we are fortunate enough to contribute on. We take our role as a champion of local business and economic development in our town seriously.
In recent media articles, it has been disappointing to see the Mayor and some councillors come out and make alarming comments about the makeup of the Project Steering Advisory Committee. The Mayor has been on the committee since its inception and never in a PSAC meeting has he raised a concern about who was in the room.
With this Chamber of Commerce having been involved in the project for the past two years, it has been without a doubt a time consuming, but important role, all members of PSAC have taken on with passion and heart. For the Deputy Mayor to suggest that the committee was stacked with people that don’t have the communities interests at heart, is an insult to every person who has put the time and effort into fulfilling their role in conveying relevant community concerns, interests and ideas back to the NSW Government. We know first hand how much time the PSAC members have given to this project, to openly come out and insult the good character of a committee is disappointing to say the least.
Also in the media this past week there was a statement made by the Mayor that suggested “there are groups who’ve taken out paid-for advertising to encourage like-minded people to participate”. Let’s assume that statement may be directed at us.
As a Chamber of Commerce, and as a PSAC representative who was tasked with the job of getting as many people in our community to engage in completing the survey, we took this responsibility very seriously. Our executive team agreed to spend a very modest $250 on some Facebook ads that would encourage all members of the Coffs Harbour community to fill in the survey to convey what they liked or disliked about the draft masterplan. At no point in any paid advert did we provide any guidance as to how people should complete the survey. We simply encouraged them to have their voice heard. We see that as doing exactly what we agreed to do as a PSAC representative. We would also like to clear up that the Facebook ads were never targeted to ‘like-minded individuals’, the targeting was incredibly broad and targeted those who lived in the Coffs Harbour region. That’s it.
We see the $250 in getting the word out about the survey a worthwhile investment, and we would have hoped the Councillors would have worked just as hard as we did in encouraging community participation.
We are not sure the allocation (by Councillor’s) of ratepayers money for an INITIAL funding of up to $20,000 that allows the Council’s communication team to inform the community of Councillor’s reservations for the draft Master Plan is what the community wants. This ratepayer spend was agreed to in the Council meeting on 9 June 2022. The robust and far reaching NSW Government’s consultation process has already had significant touch points to encourage people to participate and the community has already spoken loudly about what they want.
We also are not sure that the $10,000 approved by Council to get a valuation done on the railway land that is currently NOT FOR SALE was a wise investment for the future of our community. But that’s up to our community to decide.
We look forward to seeing the NSW Government continue to refine and progress the masterplan over the coming months. And applaud them for recognising the incredible opportunities this masterplan opens up for our city’s residents and visitors.
For full details of the community consultation outcomes reports, click on the following links:
Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce