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Long Road To Paradise

By Dan Sowden

If you visited the Sunshine Coast back in 1980 and then saw it again for the first time today, with a gap of 30 years between visits, you would wonder if you had landed on Mars. The little piece of eastern seaboard that we call home today is all but unrecognisable to those who clapped eyes on it as a resident or visitor three decades ago. The landscape, look and feel of the place has changed irreversibly thanks to a type of progress-on-steroids phenomenon. Goat tracks are now highways, tracts of cane land are suburbs and bushland swamps are master-planned communities.

The Sunshine Coast is consistently named among the top spots in the nation for interstate migration and phrases like “real estate” and “population” are almost always accompanied by the word “boom”. How do you sum up 30 years of changes in our property sector?

The next 30 years

For all the good things that we are today, the Sunshine Coast needs to concentrate and develop its own piece of Australian landscape. Who are we? What is our identity? And what do we – as a community – want to be known for?

Over the next 10 and 20 years the debates will continue between development, sustainability, green zones, urban living, higher living densities and housing affordability. But the one thing that we won’t be able to hold back is the tide of people wanting to live here.

Just like the conversations we were bombarded with while living in Cairns (“have you been to Buderim yet?”) it is happening all over Australia today (“Have you been to the Sunshine Coast?”).

It is how we lead and manage this growth that really matters; how we retain jobs and security for our children. The trick will be establishing a common Sunshine Coast identity which encompasses the area from Noosa to Caloundra and the Range towns, while allowing these unique areas to maintain the individual personalities they have worked so hard to build.

The population boom

Queensland is going to be a very wealthy state over the next 10 to 20 years.

Much of this wealth is going to be generated outside of the Sunshine Coast through manufacturing, technologies, farming, mining and tourism. Like it or not, the keepers of this wealth are going to want to live here and raise families, maybe retire here, invest in property or businesses here, use our world class educational facilities or simply holiday here.

These are the people who, as you read this paper, are saying to their friends or family, “have you been to the Sunshine Coast?”.

We have two choices: we can develop an identity and an image which deflects this attention away from the area and, even worse, become selective of who we want here, or we can develop an identity and image which welcomes this attention and is underpinned by smart planning.

Lifestyle, location, world-class educational facilities, business opportunities and festival events are just some of the things that stand out to me to be our major attractions. Could these form the fabric of the future? Could we, should we, promote this as our image and identity?

I am comfortable in sharing our piece of paradise with others in the future on one proviso: we underpin this sharing with smart planning and in line with our identity and image

 Source: The Sunshine Coast Daily| Rebecca Marshall

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