I’m not going to gloss over it. It’s been a tough few weeks, but I was very pleased last week when the new Cultural and Civic Space got the go ahead after years of waiting
This is absolutely the right decision for the future of our wonderful city and I’d like to thank the wider community, my fellow Councillors who worked very hard in making this very important decision, the Advisory Group and the staff (who are real people) who’ve also been working so hard on this project, for their enthusiasm and support.
We’ve known all along that a project of this size takes guts, vision and determination to get done and it’s not a decision anyone takes lightly. But it’s been amazing to see how many people – beyond the small, noisy minority – have seen, understood and embraced the huge opportunities that this unique building will bring to Coffs Harbour. I’m so looking forward to seeing it take shape.
The new building will include a Regional Gallery, Central Library, Regional Museum, multipurpose meeting rooms which can also be used as the Council Chamber for meetings, a co-working space, shop, café, the Family History Group, function space, the Council Customer Service area, Council offices and car parking.
It will create a vibrant cultural and civic precinct in the heart of Coffs Harbour and will be accessible, inclusive, attractive and welcoming to all.
Applying for funding will be directed to the Art Gallery, Library and Museum, not the Council Offices. Again, I must reiterate there will be NO rate rise to pay for this project.
The new Cultural and Civic Space will:
- provide access to cultural opportunities and facilities that are not currently available in Coffs Harbour;
- create a cultural precinct and cultural tourism opportunities;
- provide lifelong learning, educational opportunities and improved literacy;
- increase social wellbeing and connections;
- bring economic benefit to the region; and
- help develop a vibrant and active central business district and city centre.
An independent economic assessment has identified a host of benefits to the CBD including financial gains over a 30-year period totalling $57m and 31 on-going jobs. When in operation, it is projected to contribute $2m annually to the Gross Regional Product through support of local businesses.
This is an historic and exciting moment for Coffs Harbour and its future.
I’d just like to say a few words on the passing of former Councillor, and my friend of over 20 years, Kerry Hines. I have never known anyone with a bigger personality and devotion to her business, family and husband. The Coffs Harbour area will miss her vibrancy and passion, as will I and all the people she came into contact with. She most certainly was Unreal in the true sense of the word. We will all miss her.