Council seeks a fair future for Great Ocean Road Region
April 19, 2018
The Great Ocean Road region’s future should incorporate a user-pays system, a better partnership with the traditional owners and a more centralised management model, according to Colac Otway Shire.
In response to the Victorian Government’s Great Ocean Road Region Issues Paper, the Council last night outlined its vision for how the iconic stretch from Torquay to Warrnambool should be managed.
Cr McCracken said more than five million visitors came to the Great Ocean Road region each year, contributing to a $1.3 billion tourism industry. He said it was forecast that eight million tourists would visit by 2028.
“Councils are bearing the cost of the visitor economy, such as toilets, waste collection and parking – whereas the profits from these activities are largely enjoyed by businesses outside the region,” he said.
“It is our view that there are too many agencies with responsibilities in Great Ocean Road Region, which is contributing to significant duplication of resources, a lack of coordination and a lack of planning that is holding appropriate tourism development back.
“Among other things, there are shortcomings at the moment in terms of partnerships with the traditional owners, amenities along the route are inadequate and importantly there is no forum for our local communities to voice their concerns about the impacts of increasing visitor numbers on their lives.”
Mayor Joe McCracken said Councillors supported a range of responses to the Issues Paper that had been drafted to help the Great Ocean Road Taskforce finalise a plan for the future.
“A sustainable funding model is critical for the Great Ocean Road, incorporating a user-pays principle that sees visitors contribute to the protection, maintenance and enhancement of the landscape that attracts them to the region,” he said.
“We represent the communities that live and holiday on the Great Ocean Road as well as the wider Colac Otway Shire community.”
Cr McCracken said the Council would now formally submit 11 detailed responses to questions asked by the taskforce which included identification of ten specific matters Council deemed to be high priority for the authority to consider.
“Our Council Plan seeks to improve strategic planning and coordination of the Great Ocean Road and to advocate for the establishment of a Great Ocean Road Authority,” he said.
“The submission includes ten matters Council wish to draw to the specific attention of the Great Ocean Road Taskforce as important considerations, among these, advocating for improvements to major road routes connecting the Great Ocean Road to the Princes Highway and on-going engagement with Councils regarding improved approaches to statutory land use planning for the Great Ocean Road region.
“This Issues Paper was an important opportunity for Colac Otway Shire to engage with the Government, via the taskforce, to again emphasise our views on the future management of the Great Ocean Road.
“Change is needed and there is a very close alignment between our Council Plan and the preliminary conclusions of the taskforce, as communicated in the Issues Paper.”