Work » Economic Development
The Gannawarra Shire Council recognises that Economic Development is one of Council's key priorities for the future viability of the municipality. The Economic Development Plan compliments Council's Corporate Plan and builds on Council and community objectives to acheive the desired outcomes of economic development within the municipality.
Gannawarra Shire has the potential for growth. The next ten years will see an increase in the uptake of land close to waterways as people realise the attraction of lifestyle living.
In anticipation, Council has prepared a rural review study to ensure opportunities are maximised and that Council has the mechanisms in place to manage the economic and social implications this growth will bring. Already the growth opportunities of lifestyle are emerging, with major residential subdivisions taking place in Cohuna, Kerang and Koondrook, along with emerging potential around our water-based assets. Council's role is to facilitate new investment at these development hot-spots.
Water is one of the most valuable assets held within the local community and the focus on efficient irrigation practices will see varied outcomes for the Gannawarra Shire. While the volumes of permanent water rights within Gannawarra are likely to decrease (for a variety of reasons), Council is working on the development of new irrigation projects on Greenfield sites, diversification of agricultural enterprises and supporting the ongoing development of new employment opportunties through new investment. Already there are changes occuring with companies such as KILTER and Sustainable Soils and Farms investing heavily in new agricultural developments, along with significant interest in large scale solar projects in the farming zones.
To supplement the predicted decrease in traditional agriculture, alternatives such as horticulture and viticulture, manufacturing, green energy, industrial estate development and other investment and employment opportunities will be priorities to grow the municipality. The future significance of water access and infrastructure will also be an area of advantage in attracting high water use businesses to the area.
Predicted population decline is another target area for Council to address. While the current population is static, future trends show a decline of around 6% in population by the year 2031. While these figures are only indicative, if action is not taken the municipality may be adversely affected. To support population growth Council is actively facilitating new developments aimed at providing employment opportunities, actively implementing the new tourism brand and strategy actions and working to raise the profile of the Gannawarra Shire as a destination for lifestyle and investment. Residential developments are being encouraged around the many waterways, in particular the Gunbower Creek in Cohuna and the Kerang Lakes.
The transition for Gannawarra will take time, commitment and strong leadership from within Council and the community.
The natural features of the Gannawarra Shire are a significant factor in attracting residents and tourists. Fifty-seven lakes, swamps and marshes form one of Australia's largest and most important wetland areas. The wetlands combine with ancient forests and the red gum reaches of the mighty Murray River to create a tranquil and relaxed atmosphere. Visitors also enjoy the abundant native flora and fauna.
Gannawarra Shire is popular with people who enjoy outdoor activities such as bike riding, hiking, camping and fishing. Water sports including skiing, swimming, canoeing and sailing are also extremely popular. The Murray River is a major drawcard for the municipality and will provide future development opportunities. Gunbower Island, the largest inland island in the world, is a major drawcard for campers and nature lovers with many returning year after year.
The Mallee landscape to the west provides a stark contrast to the wetlands and forests, and contains significant areas of remnant native vegitation that provides important habitat for wildlife. The importance of this vegetation has been recognised and it is now protected.
Preservation of the natural environment forms the underlying context of all Council activities. Council's planning scheme and policies recognise the significance of the environment. Clearly defined zonings and policies balance the necessary economic growth with protection of the natural environment, the wetlands and the forests.
In recent years, a range of land management strategies and plans has been developed for the region in response to concerns about the state of the natural resources. Catchment Management Authorities and the Department of Sustainability and Environment have prepared salinity management plans, draft water quality strategies, a soil health strategy and a biodiversity strategy to address some of the natural resource issues. Council has also been a participating member of the Kerang/Swan Hill Future Landuse Project, and the Torrumbarry Reconfiguration and Asset Management Strategy, and is committed to providing future leadership in this area.
Council strives towards achieving a balance between protection of the natural environment and development opportunities by strongly promoting ecologically sustainable development. Council is actively working in conjunction with land and water management agencies and community groups to ensure a consistent and comprehensive approach to the protection, enhancement and management of the natural assets. Projects such as tree planting for carbon credits, renewable energy and the sustainable use of natural resources will be an important part of the Gannawarra Shire future development strategy.