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Citizen’s jury to be recruited to help plan Colac’s future
May 25, 2017

A citizen’s jury of everyday citizens will be recruited to help Colac Otway Shire Council plan for the residential growth of Colac as part of the Colac 2050 growth plan.

Mayor Chris Potter described the citizen’s jury, also known as a people’s panel, as the most ambitious community engagement initiative ever attempted by Council.

Based on an aspiration to grow Colac’s population to 20,000 by 2050, the jury will explore options for growth in detail then make recommendations to Council on how and where that growth can be supported and accommodated.

Over three full-day workshops the jury will analyse background reports and maps prepared to inform the plan, hear from expert speakers and discuss how they would like Colac to grow, and where they think that growth should occur geographically.

Cr Potter said the citizen’s jury process would take place in October and November, and headlined a suite of community engagement activities planned for Colac 2050.

“The Colac 2050 project will set the framework to guide future growth in and around Colac, and identify infrastructure improvements required to support population growth, investments and the economy.

“It’s one of the most important strategic plans this Council will do in its term. In fact, it’s one of the most significant strategic, long-range planning projects Colac Otway has every attempted,” he said.

“It’s essential that we involve the community in the development of plans like these so locals can influence outcomes that may have an effect on their lives in the future.

“Council still remains the final decision maker, but our decision will be informed and enriched by the findings of the jury.”

The first phase of community engagement for Colac 2050 will involve activities the community will already be familiar with, such as facilitated workshops and calls for written submissions.

The second phase will involve the recruitment of a citizen’s jury which will involve selecting a random sample of people then stratifying it so that the jury reflects the demographics of Colac’s community – in other words, so the jury’s membership matches the balance of genders, ages and geographical backgrounds represented in our wider community.

“Council has received dedicated funding for the citizen’s jury from Regional Development Victoria and we’re really excited to be embarking on this process,” Cr Potter said.

“We believe Colac is poised for growth, with factors such as the duplication of the Princes Highway, planned upgrades to rail services and our strong manufacturing sector making our community an attractive place to live and work.

“Our other strengths include our proximity to the coast, our growing tourism industry and our accessibility to the larger trade centres of Geelong, Ballarat and Warrnambool.

“The Colac 2050 project is about positioning Colac for an exciting new future by establishing a blueprint for our town’s expansion and we encourage our community to keep an eye on Council’s website and Facebook page for more information on how to get involved.”

Submissions for the Colac 2050 Growth Plan background report are now open. The background report can be downloaded from Council’s website.

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