(by Ray Dixon – Regional Victoria’s grumpiest blogger)
Or: How to stop growth in a regional city
The city of Wodonga located near the NSW border is Victoria’s fastest growing regional centre with new homes going up everywhere. Wodonga’s come a long way in the past decade and was actually starting to look a bit more livable as it emerged from its previous drabness and Struggletown image, as the poor relation to its cross-border twin city of Albury.
Heck, it even started to get a bit interesting with the very successful and colourful Carnivale event that has been put on every year over the Labor Day weekend in March since the Commonwealth Games year of 2006 when Wodonga was paired with Jamaica – hence the Jamaican theme depicted above.
But such advancement is apparently too much excitement for the Wodonga City Council who seem to have decided that Wodonga’s really just a backwater … and that’s the way they want it to stay:
CARNIVALE, one of Wodonga’s premier events, won’t be held next year. No funding has been allocated for Carnivale in the city’s draft budget.
The council’s community development director, Debra Mudra, said last night a review was taking place into Carnivale’s format and its return could not be guaranteed.
Ostensibly, the reason the council has given for pulling the rug on the event and withdrawing its $100,000 in support is “so works can be done on the closure of Hovell Street and other significant changes to traffic and pedestrian flows around the city” but that’s just a joke. The city’s central streets are closed down for the event anyway, so what does it matter that road works will be taking place through the week? It’s not like they’ll be working on the roads over a long weekend, is it?
Of course the council claims it’s not necessarily the end of the event and says: “There has been no talk of Carnivale not coming back. The talk has been about let’s seize this opportunity for a review” but that’s like telling your partner “I just need some time on my own to think about our relationship” – i.e. it’s an excuse to dump her.
So what’s all this got to do with you and why should you care what goes on in remote north-east Victoria, I hear you ask? Well, nothing, but I just wanted to have a bitch about it.
Actually, it should concern you, because if regional relocation is ever to become a reality (and God knows we need to redirect populations away from the crowded capitals), this type of backwards thinking and lack of vision and support for vibrant communities is just the sort of thing we don’t need.
End of sermon.