ORANGE City Council has renewed its Evocities membership, along with a $332,000 commitment during the next four years, despite an ongoing councillor split.
Councillors voted to be part of two regional organisations – Evocities and Regional Cities NSW, which will be an expanded version of the Inland Forum to replicate a similar body in Victoria.
In the past Evocities has concentrated on encouraging people to move to regional areas, while the Inland Forum has focused on lobbying governments for regional projects.
Councillor Stephen Nugent said he would still like to see some figures for Orange – 394 households moved to one of the seven Evocities in the 2017-18 financial year, but no further breakdown was available.
“There doesn’t seem to be much hard evidence to the impact Evocities has,” he said.
However, councillor Joanne McRae said the council could not afford to pull out.
There doesn’t seem to be much hard evidence to the impact Evocities has.Councillor Stephen Nugent
“This is marketing to our future population,” she said.
“It impresses on people that we are forward-thinking and welcome people.”
Albury, Coffs Harbour, Maitland, Tamworth, Armidale, Dubbo, Bathurst, Griffith, Tweed, Cessnock, Lismore, Queanbeyan, Wagga Wagga, Mid-Coast and Port Macquarie-Hastings councils have also been invited to join the expanded Regional Cities NSW.
In a report to councillors, staff said while the council was already a member of the Central West Joint Organisation, its role was more geographically-based, whereas a regional organisation could lobby on issues including population growth, congestion, access and investment.
Mayor Reg Kidd said he had sat through the meetings in September, which discussed broadening the group’s membership.
“It’s got some very strong possibilities,” he said.
Councillor Russell Turner wanted to see what funding governments would put on the table in response.
“While Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo are growing comfortably, there’s a huge problem with smaller towns,” he said.
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