West Wimmera Shire Council aims to double population | Target 10,000

The West Wimmera Shire Council office in Edenhope. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

The West Wimmera Shire Council office in Edenhope. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

WEST Wimmera Shire Council hopes a new economic development strategy will more than double the shire’s population.

The draft strategy, Target 10,000, aims to increase the population from 4521 people to 10,000 by 2050.

This is an increase of 152 people a year.

Mayor Ron Hawkins said there was an urgent need to address the growing problem of population decline.

“We are losing population and this strategy is focused on that,” he said.

“It involves innovative thinking about how we might turn the tide. It’s an ambitious plan, but it has to be.”

Kaniva’s population is 1061 people, Edenhope 976, Goroke 623 and Apsley 324. 

The plan outlines State Government research, which suggests that in a 15-year period the shire will lose almost a quarter of its population, reducing it to just 3417 residents.

“While the data is based on historic trends, it doesn’t necessarily predict the future,” the plan shows.

“The projection might make grim reading, but it also stands as a powerful call to action.

"This strategy and action plan is a direct response to the challenge facing the shire.

“If the shire can’t aspire to grow, it is unlikely any other level of government will step in and drive positive opportunity.”

The plan outlines direct action council should take over the next four years.

“The projection might make grim reading, but it also stands as a powerful call to action.''

Actions include sub-dividing land at Kaniva, Edenhope, Apsley and Goroke, developing a taskforce to attract new businesses and support expansions of existing businesses, and auditing vacant houses to determine if there are properties that could be made available or renovated.

Developing three powerful case studies of successful agribusinesses, undertaking resident and business surveys, streetscape improvements and developing a public relations strategy focused on changing the perception of the shire are on the agenda.

The plan also includes community-assisted actions such as establishing a grower-controlled grain receival and storage business at Kaniva and encouraging all businesses to adopt EFTPOS.

Cr Hawkins said it was important to portray all the positive resources in the shire to the community.

“We need to tell people about the positive things here and how good it is to live in the area,” he said.

“We have everything we need here – good schools, good hospitals, yet with all this we are still losing population.

“This is the basis for an exciting future.”

The draft strategy will be discussed at council’s August meeting on Thursday.

A report to council recommended council invite the community to comment on the strategy. 

Cr Hawkins declined to comment on the cost of the strategy.

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