Bryon Cunningham, Castlemaine
Castlemaine is no longer the town it was before COVID. The lockdown challenged our way of life and changed priorities. We had to look to ourselves to stay in touch with family and friends, prepare meals, seek ways to entertain ourselves and sometimes do the things we put aside for the last decade or two. Nurseries and hardware shops were busier than ever; jobs needing to be done around the home were done. Young families did it harder. Home school, separation from friends, keeping the kids entertained took its toll on parents, businesses closed – some for good, jobs were lost but the hardest hit were those isolated from usual contacts and services. Many of us took time to help and found ways to support each other. Food was made and delivered, local produce markets flourished and generally life in regional Victoria was not too troublesome. But isolation has brought with it a big shift in thinking! City dwellers are casting their eyes on the good life to be found in regional towns. This is an important time to plan for new growth and how best to manage new development. How to provide sustainable services for water, waste, power, public transport as well as services for education, community health, and employment. All will need to be managed effectively to meet the needs of our community as well as the newcomers to our town. To do this well with our limited resources will be the greatest challenge. I have concerns about the preservation and protection of our unique heritage, how to evolve Castlemaine’s unique character with respect to what we have and what we will need for the future. More than ever we need our councillors open to and in touch with the community, alert to these new challenges. Councillors who will lead the way and ensure our council officers reflect the wishes of the councillors and the community. We must be proactive with a plan to ensure we make the best of the opportunities change will bring, planning for new developments that will ensure our safety and wellbeing and make a good fit with our community as well as for future residents.
It’s no surprise that people want to move to our beautiful town, lets welcome them with warmth and respect armed with a sound strategic plan for our future consistent with our values and our unique cultural heritage, led by community not profit seekers, if we lose what we have we will be just another ordinary country town.