Changes to Mullumbimby
Watch out for two major changes in the works for the Biggest Little Town. Apologies to the many who don’t want Mullum to change at all. First is the Mullumbimby Master Plan about to be released. The exhibition period will be from October 7 to 15 November. Look out for information booths in town and at the Mullum Markets. There is also a photo Comp ‘Visions Of Mullum’ for anyone with shutterbug skills.
The demolition of the old Mullum Hospital is complete and the site is ready for new things to happen (Pictured above). A mix of housing to address local community needs, community areas and green space are planned. A community consultation group has spent a year working with the council to deliver input. Echelon Planning, a national leader in developing innovative concepts and plans for residential and community spaces has been engaged to deliver some working concepts.
Unique Agent Nicolette Explains
Former Byron estate agent Nicolette Van Wijngaarden has pleaded guilty to trust account fraud. Van Wijngaarden set up her Unique Estates agency in Byron Bay before it grew to become a national boutique real estate concern. It is alleged she misused $3.69 million of client funds from May 2016 to February 2018.
‘I stupidly thought I could pay it back,’ she told the court. She will be sentenced in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court in late November, facing up to 10 years in jail. Thinking the cash flow issues were short-term and seasonal, she claimed lavish expenses, including cars, flowers and travel were tied to the business.
‘I’m completely devastated that I’m sitting here today, horrified that people have been let down,’ she said. Fashion designer Collette Dinnigan was one of van Wijngaarden’s clients caught up in the agency’s collapse. Van Wijngaarden told the court she only paid herself $12,000 in commissions in the nine years after founded Unique Estates in 2009. Read the full article here.
The Pot Revolution Comes to Town
The Northern Rivers is now on the frontlines of the medicinal cannabis industry. Cannabis has become one of the many speciality agricultural products grown locally and it is probably a lot easier to access non-psychotropic cannabidiol (CBD) oil here than almost any other place in the country. Expect to see a few large fields of the easily recognised weed very shortly. There are now sites in play for large-scale marijuana (non-THC) plantations. We have an excellent climate for it – as recent, hippie-driven history has shown.
There is a tsunami of anecdotal evidence of CBD oil being beneficial for a wide range of ailments and many in the medical establishment are behind it. Of course, the backward-looking powers that be have made its accessibility less than convenient. In this void, it is understandable that under-the-counter suppliers have sprung up to service a growing demand. Prohibition has always been a good idea – not! One local supplier has been involved in producing a movie to help spread the word and change the restrictive legislation. It is called Greenlight, and a session will be coming to Byron soon. Or, if you are a supporter of the product you can get behind it here.
Studios being Studied?
Lots of Byron Shire residents live in studios and dwellings which are not 100% council approved. Council has a compliance department obliged to enforce regulations if complaints are made by members of the public. Unfortunately, these complaints are often vexatious and usually stem from a tenant/landlord dispute.
But is Council is becoming more proactive when enforcing compliance? There are anecdotal reports of property owners advertising illegal studios on platforms such as Facebook or Airbnb being visited by Council staff. Perhaps the compliance unit is now on the lookout for online ads so they can check which properties have full approvals and which do not. A phone call asking for an inspection then follows. Ouch!
Turn off the lights
There is a common saying that ‘the oldest person in the house is always turning off the lights.’ Mayor Simon Richards might not be the oldest man in Byron Shire but this hasn’t stopped Dad Simon proposing Council start flicking switches. He wants Council to investigate the ‘implications and intricacies’ of turning off some of Byron’s streets lights in the early morning hours, to ‘be environmentally responsible and reduce emissions and to save money’.
Apparently it’s being trialled in Adelaide and some US cities have adopted it and are saving millions of dollars. Devon County Council in the UK recently advised residents to carry torches if they planned to be out and about after 12.30 at night. According to Mayor Simon, the proposal received ‘overwhelming’ support. Addressing residents’ concerns, Simon said that lights would only be turned off where traffic was minimal at night.
Best of Sri Lanka Tour
For most of September, I have been away leading one of my ‘Best of Sri Lanka Tours’. I love Sri Lanka. I was interested to see that the majority of my guests were past clients of BPS. There seems to be a good fit between Byron and Sri Lanka. Next year’s tours are in late March and September and more info is here.