Why Louise and Kynan chose to grow with Ballina

By DAWN COHEN

LOUISE and Kynan Gooding are two of the Northern Rivers' 1376 newest arrivals, latest population statistics show.

The Goodings are part of the flood of career-oriented new arrivals, with a commitment to economic prosperity and a rural lifestyle. The latest demographic statistics for the Northern Rivers reflect a coastal population boom, while the inland shires are steadily declining.

Between June 2003 and June 2004, the Tweed acquired 715 people, swelling its population to nearly 80,000, while Ballina increased by 307, raising its numbers to 39,546, and 340 new arrivals gave Byron Shire 30,724 residents. Lismore increased marginally.

However, inland regions dropped. Kyogle's population fell by 38 and Richmond Valley had 146 fewer residents.

Louise Gooding, 28, plans to live in Ballina Shire for the rest of her life.

"When we were negotiating with the bank we refused to buy in unless we could be in Ballina," Ms Gooding, ownermanger of the Bank of Queensland's Ballina branch, said.

"For 10 years we have had a goal of moving here.

"Why would you want to be anywhere else?"

Ballina mayor Cr Philip Silver welcomed the appropriate growth. "If it doesn't outstrip infrastructure, growth brings community benefits and jobs," he said.

"The real challenge will be State infrastructure, like hospitals."

Amber Hall, Lismore Unlimited Opportunities manager, remains confident despite population growth slowing in Lismore.

"In the Lismore CBD alone, business growth has been in excess of three-and-a-half per cent over the past two years," she said. "Lismore is the business hub of the region. So long as there is growth in the region it's good for business in Lismore."

Cr Ernie Bennett, Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils president and mayor of Kyogle, was surprised by the Lismore figures.

"I don't know why it is happening," he said.

"There has been a trend that the further west you go the worse it gets.

"Maybe governments need to do something to encourage inland population growth.

"In Kyogle we believed there was some growth, but more in the township rather than west of the range.

"Population decline is not good for any community."



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