Forward thinkers offer sweet plan on future of Sunshine Coast

An early morning jogger at Happy Valley, Caloundra. Experts warn of preserving the Coast’s character.
An early morning jogger at Happy Valley, Caloundra. Experts warn of preserving the Coast’s character. Brett Wortman

HOW can the Sunshine Coast retain its iconic character and charm while planning for future growth?

The answer is "strawberries".

Or more accurately, "enjoy your strawberries ... but hold the jam".

A who's who of the Sunshine Coast's business and academic leaders converged on the University of the Sunshine Coast last week for a day-long forum on sustainable villages.

The forum, held as part of USC and the council's Sunshine Coast Futures Conference Series, aimed to address the question: How do we get the balance right between identity, community, business and prosperity?

And while the forum's keynote speaker was a global leader in regional development, it was the Coast uni's own Professor Mike Hefferan who eloquently captured the spirit of the forum.

Prof Hefferan said the Coast needed to avoid creating "strawberry jam" when catering for future population growth. He said the Coast's "distinct and different" villages were like strawberries that needed to be nurtured. But what we needed to avoid was letting "jam" - or urban sprawl - spread between our villages, which had happened in some Gold Coast suburbs.

"This is an iconic place," Prof Hefferan said.

>> Why we're living in a piece of heaven

>> Do we risk becoming village idiots?

"This region has got significant problems but it's a damn good place.

"It's distinctive and damn near unique. It's a loose collection of quite different towns.

"We've got a number of larger places that are really distinctive and so different in character."

Prof Hefferan said while the Sunshine Coast needed to broaden its economic base, Brisbane would always provide employment for many of our residents.

"At the moment all we can see is a heap of utes going south in the morning," he said.

"We will not be able to grow the smart jobs fast enough (to provide work for all Sunshine Coast residents).

"We will always have the imbalance.

"So building up that link that gets a fast commute into town is something we really have to think about.

"It's amazing how little countries can get infrastructure. But here no one has invested in infrastructure.

"The fact that we have a single rail here and you have to wait for a goods train is outrageous. We've got to have a more mature link to Brisbane."

Mayor Mark Jamieson told the conference we should look to London for inspiration.

"London has been called the city of villages. Many of the world's most famous cities had their origins in villages," he said.

"We often hear that the Sunshine Coast is a community of communities. It tells us about the values and aspirations of our residents.

"The Coast already has the status of having the ninth largest population in the nation.

"Maintaining the individual quality of localities is a central tenant of the draft planning scheme."

Mr Jamieson said a key to establishing a bright future was broadening the Coast's economic base.

"Tourism is and will continue to be an extremely important part of our economy," he said.

"We have to create a broader economy to future-proof ourselves. We are in the business of tourism, retail and building. But it's about adding some more strings to our bow.

"A big part of creating that success is creating a future where our children no longer have to leave this region to study or find employment."

Keynote speaker Professor John Tomaney told the conference while Australia's economy was driven by its major cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne, regions such as the Sunshine Coast had a vital role to play.

"Successful regions are characterised by their ability to provide infrastructure that promotes connectivity," he said.

Prof Tomaney told the forum the Sunshine Coast needed to promote what our region offers that is unique.

"Work out what in your regional economy is unique," he said.

"What is it we know and we do that other regions can't. The question is how does the Sunshine Coast continue to build on its prosperity?"

Topics:  development future sunshine coast

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Higher booze prices 'best way to combat abuse'

Should taxes be raised further on alcoholic drinks?

Report examines best ways to combat alcohol and violence

8800 complaints about water, energy bills in Queensland

Maree Skellern from Tweed Heads Kindy Care showing the dramatic changes in the latest power bill.

More than $320,000 in billing adjustments

'UNREAL': Paddler videos moment whale swims under his board

Surfer Ziggy Albert (blond hair) and his paddle buddy on their way to Old Woman Island enjoyed the encounter of a lifetime when a mother whale and her calf popped up in front of them.

You couldn't find a better way to start the day than this

Local Partners

Wakeskating champ hit with $200 fine at school pick-up

AUSTRALIAN wakeskating champion Cody Murphy has copped a $200 fine for forgetting to carry his driver's license when making a five minute trip to school.

Community garden set for Palmwoods

Kay Nixon at the Palmwoods Community Gardens will be hosting a launch day and inviting the ecommunity to come along and sign up.

Parcel of land to supply sustainable gardening for community

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Tim Finn headlining at Airlie Beach Music Festival

Music veteran Tim Finn from New Zealand will headline the Airlie Beach Music Festival.

Tim Finn: "It's the kind of festival that artists love"

Kristie doesn't mind being the third wheel in Survivor final

Kristie Bennett in a scene from Australian Survivor.

SOLO player will take on Survivor's power couple Lee and El tonight.

Scary hoping Posh and Sporty will re-join The Spice Girls

Mel B

Mel B hoping Victoria Beckham, Mel C will re-join The Spice Girls

REVIEW: Michael McIntyre has Brisbane in stitches

Michael McIntyre in a scene from his TV series Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow.

BRITISH comedian is in the country on his Happy and Glorious Tour.

Cliff Richard doesn't need Rod Stewart's help with legal bills

Sir Cliff Richard

"'Don't worry, I'm loaded. I won't keep you to it.' "

Bindi Irwin named in MAXIM HOT 100 list

Wildlife Warrior named among Australia's most beautiful women

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals