Oh, what a year, 2020 has been one of chaos, stress and uncertainty:
- the fires that ravaged the state (fortunately, we were spared);
- the drought that has lingered for three years started to abate;
- then, 'out of the blue', came COVID-19, stopping the world in its tracks.
But through all of this, Australians showed their resilience, sense of community and a shared responsibility to get on with it.
Whilst there is always the doomsayers, the majority of the community went about trying to make things as normal as ever. They knew that our country and community had faced all sorts of disasters previously, including the drought, fires, recessions, pandemics and wars.
It rammed home to me a very relevant turn of phrase ... 'if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem'.
Council put a number of measures in place to support its staff, many of whom worked from home, and council meetings went on normally, that is if you think zooming is the new normal.
But we all adjusted, and it was business as usual for most of us.
There has been millions of dollars in capital works, and millions in development applications throughout 2020.
Council has been successful in getting millions of dollars for the following projects:
- Road and footpath infrastructure.
- Water infrastructure, an area we can deem ourselves as a leader in Australia.
- The sports precinct was confirmed, valued at $24 million.
- The Southern Distributor, around $18 million to date.
- Gallery expansion.
- Conservatorium and planetarium.
- Major works at the showground.
- The Jack Brabham Park upgrades.
- The Carl Sharpe Cricket Centre at Wade Park.
- Private Hospitals at Bloomfield and Dudley.
- And the multi-million dollar Future City project.
Orange has also seen a number of new businesses establishing themselves in Orange, and the real estate market has certainly boomed with many people making the move to Orange as a preferred place to work, enjoy and some retire.
Our education and health facilities, and opportunities, are second to none.
Orange has more greenspace than most towns and cities in Australia, too. The standard used is hectares per thousand head of population, and an acceptable rate is four hectares per 1000 people.
In Orange, it's currently 18 hectares for 1000 people, and in simple terms that means over 10 per cent of Orange's urban area is green space.
And there are over 600 hectares of regional and rural parks, this includes areas like Lake Canobolas and Gosling Creek precincts.
What do we have to look forward to in 2021?
We will survive and thrive, and hopefully, as a well known singer famously recorded, 'and the world will become a better place for you and for me'.
As we turn into 2021 I am optimistic the drought has subsided in large parts of the country.
Hopefully the recommendations out of the inquiry into the NSW fires will be enacted, which I have no doubt will be helpful in mitigating the possibility of catastrophic fire events in the state.
A vaccine has been developed for COVID-19 and we know, thanks to the experts, how to contain and minimise the spread of the virus, which undoubtedly will come again.
The 2021 year will see many of the large community projects well into their establishments - the conservatorium, the gallery, the sports precinct, the Future City CBD development, showground amenities.
But, it is important that we work together as a community for the betterment of as many as possible. There will be issues, including developments that won't please all, but as long as the consensus prevails then Orange will continue to progress.
We can not 'shut the door' as some would like. That is a selfish attitude. We have issues to address in the way of infrastructure but they are not insurmountable.
So in 2021, let's all work to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
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