Mayor looks to future of region

File photo Jarrod Marsden

Mayor Jarrod Marsden attended the annual Orana Outlook Forum last week in Dubbo which provided an insight into the future of the region, and looked at the challenges and opportunities for the year ahead.

This year’s forum had a focus on innovations and how they will impact the future of the region.

“The forum was very well represented by both government and private sector representatives.

“There were speakers on a host of very relevant major topics including roads and transport, housing, agriculture, tourism and others,” Cr Marsden said.

He said of particular interest were discussions in the area of housing, transport and tourism.

“Housing – the average rent in the region is now $570 a week!” Cr Marsden said.

“Affordable housing and more duplex/unit type housing is required as many three and four bedroom homes are being taken up by singles or couples with no children.

“Over 700 “Airbnb” type houses are also taking away houses from the rental market.

“Affordable housing isn’t public housing, it’s based on a percentage of average income, and anything over 30 per cent is considered unaffordable. We are sitting at 29 per cent so we are very close to crossing a bad line.

“Transport – at the moment there are 2.3 million sea container movements by road from the Newcastle port out into the Orana region annually. This is predicted to increase to seven million in the coming years.

“Road funding increases, more places for trucks to pull off the road overnight (especially oversize heavy haulage), and 38 new overtaking lanes for the region are being planned,” Cr Marsden reported.

“Tourism numbers continue to climb and are predicted to increase another 66 per cent  in the next five years.

“There are some trends which I believe everyone in the Cobar Shire Council should take into consideration, including a big shift away from single day event travel with the average stay now 3.2 nights.

“We see this with events like the Mundi Mundi Bash with travellers going out into the region and then home again over a 7-10 day period.

“There is also a jump in people travelling just to see friends and relatives, with family and group re-unions very popular at the moment,” he said.