New wave of Sea-changers
By DAWN COHEN
BALLINA'S new baking family ? the Jacksons ? typify the latest wave of working sea changers.
Trish, 38, and Colin, 55, both born in Sydney, have purchased Blue Seas bakery in River street, soon to be called Jacks Bakehouse and Cafe.
"We love the river and everyone is very friendly," Trish said.
"We came here for a beautiful environment and a safer lifestyle."
The Sea Change Summit Report, tabled at yesterday's Ballina Shire Council meeting, has found most new residents in coastal communities are under 50 and working.
However, it warns the retirement of the baby boomer generation will increase the proportion of retirees on the coast.
Liz Baker, Ballina Shire sustainability strategy co-ordinator, said the shire could expect 24 per cent of its population to be over 65 by 2026.
Currently, one-in-five Ballina Shire residents is aged over 65.
"The increase will provide opportunities for the shire, as well as challenges," Ms Baker said.
"The baby boomers are expected to be actively involved in their community. They will volunteer and contribute to the shire."
However, the aging population could add stress to a community already living with more poverty than the NSW average.
Accelerating house prices could exacerbate the problem. Mayor Cr Philip Silver believes Ballina must develop a vision for the shire to guide planning in response to sea changers.
"The Ballina Sustainability Strategy seeks to identify the community and environmental factors that matter to the community," he said. "These are the reasons people come here. We don't want to destroy the very things they have come for."
Cr Silver also wants government bodies to recognise the increased pressures sea changers place on Ballina's infrastructure.
"In particular, the State Government must look at our needs for the Ballina bypass and hospital services," he said.
Cr Silver says not all sea changers come from capital cities. "Lots of people come from regional areas, particularly inland," he said.
The Jacksons moved to Kempsey nearly 20 years ago, before shifting to Ballina last year.
Ballina council endorsed ongoing involvement in the National Sea Change Taskforce (NSCT) at its meeting yesterday.
The NSCT, formed in November last year, includes 50 Australian local government authorities committed to developing innovative strategies for managing coastal population growth.