The Weekly Advertiser

City and region pushing ahead

A Melbourne-based musician visiting the Wimmera for a funeral last weekend attracted considerable scepticism when, in conversation with new friends afterwards, suggested Horsham was primed to ‘boom’.
On his first visit to the regional city, the visitor was full of praise, not only for Horsham, but for the region which he described as ‘ideal’.
“We went for a bit of a drive and this place has everything. I’m telling you now, don’t be surprised if the population doubles in the next few years,” he said.
His comments took a few locals in the group by surprise but the visitor was adamant, quickly dousing doubts and natural cynicism with the quip: “It’s amazing. You blokes don’t know what you’ve got!”
Figures show Horsham consistently experiences steady, if not spectacular population gains but development in the last few years suggests city growth is on an upward curve. With the overall municipality’s push to and beyond a population of 20,000, big business has become interested in the regional centre.
It seems strange now, but it wasn’t that long ago that the city gardens area, these days home to a thriving shopping centre, was saleyards. And can anyone remember when there were no fast-food franchises dotted along Dimboola Road and the only convenient place to get a late-night feed was the Shell Roadhouse?
The growth of a regional centre reveals itself in various ways, through advances in social, economic and structural development, changes in attitude and even political persuasion. It can also reflect significant demographical shifts that, as in the Wimmera’s case, have shown the decline of satellite townships.
Confirmation a new $20-million retirement village for Horsham west provides yet another piece for the growth jigsaw puzzle. It also sends a profound message to city leaders about the challenges they face in lobbying hard to make sure services keep pace with change.
Fears Horsham, Ararat and Stawell might become nothing more than retirement villages full of elderly people are unfounded. Healthy and growing communities, no matter what age group, need complex structures to thrive. This generates a need for professionals which encourages families and children.
And anyway, as our Melbourne visitor suggested, our region has much more to offer.

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Posted on Mar 24 2010

Posted by on Mar 24 2010. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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