Last week Chamber members and interested others attended a special Chamber event with John Mongard, the Urban Landscape Architect engaged by Council to prepare a new plan for our business district area. At the event we had the opportunity to engage first hand with John and discuss his draft report. Like many things in life ‘the devil may be in the detail’ as the stages (7 in all) are refined and carefully planned, but the general mood of the meeting was positive believing John had listened to the considerable feedback from the Chamber, local businesses and the broader community. So well done John and Phil Buchan, Council’s Manager Asset Management & Design.
I won’t attempt to capture all of what was presented – I believe the draft plan will go on public display for feedback once Council considers it in their August meeting – but 2 interesting comments from John are worth repeating. First was that he was very mindful of the need to capture what he called ‘the real Bello’, the uniqueness of our town and the reason why it is such a vibrant community. He reflected on a town about 3 hours north, similarly positioned in the hinterland behind a popular coastal destination and lamented how it is now little more than a ‘gentrified coffee stop’, with its soul having long left it. So whilst we need to bring some much needed improvement to our business district, it still needs to be our regional business and trading hub and a central meeting place for all of the community. Its good to hear that John understands this.
His other comment was about car parking – and although a bit tongue in cheek, he said what a great problem to have! Too often when we he works in regional towns up and down eastern Australia, they would wish for such a problem as it means that there is life in their town and not the decline that he so often sees. So that’s a positive spin on that vexing problem that gets many complaining!
The Chamber has set up a group to look at the online / digital connections between businesses and their customers. Whilst there are a few options around (eg bellingen.com, Council listings, etc), the Chamber believes none are comprehensive nor reflective of what contemporary solutions can now offer. If you have some ideas about this or which to be involved, don’t hesitate to contact us.
The Chamber has an important fundraising event on 12 August (6pm at Bellingen Brewery $30 incl a traditional Nepali meal). The Chamber is working in partnership with the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, OzGREEN, and South Asia Foundation (Nepal) and we are seeking financial and in-kind support to raise $5,000 to reconstruct a hostel facility for a deaf school at village Ramche, Nepal.
Bellingen Brewery and OzGREEN are hosting the event and donations above $2 are tax deductible. Items donated for auction greatly appreciated. Please contact OzGREEN Phone 6655 2180 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look forward to seeing you around town and at one of our events.
Bruce Levy (Lily Pily Country House)
President, Bellingen Chamber of Commerce