Saturday, May 25, 2024

Colac declares essential worker housing crisis

Victoria’s Colac Otway Shire Council has declared a Key and Essential Worker Housing Crisis following a Notice of Motion raised by Deputy Mayor Graham Costin at the June Council meeting.

Councillors voted to declare the Housing Crisis and noted work underway to facilitate social and key worker housing in Colac and a substantial shortage of key and essential worker housing in the shire’s coastal towns.

Mayor Kate Hanson said it was critically important to address the housing problem in the shire.

“The lack of worker housing in Colac and Apollo Bay is having an impact on the economy and liveability of our communities; it’s important we address the shortage of worker housing in Colac Otway Shire.”

“Pressure is being felt across the whole community with essential services such as doctors, teachers and police not able to move to Colac Otway to take up work.

“If we don’t address the housing shortage, our shire won’t continue to grow, there will be a decline in families moving or staying in the area, which in turn will affect community services, sports organisations and overall liveability of Colac Otway.

“We have a need for housing suitable for professional workers as well as housing that is suitable for workers in our commercial, industrial and hospitality sectors.

“Key and Essential Worker Housing is a widespread, national issue – not just specific to Colac Otway and it’s important we acknowledge we won’t be able to solve this crisis on our own,” Mayor Hanson said.

Cr Graham Costin said the Notice of Motion was intended to increase awareness of the affordable worker housing shortage in Colac and coastal towns, and for Council to respond to an escalating level of concern from local businesses and communities.

“There’s a need for greater housing diversity across the whole municipality but Apollo Bay and our coastal towns are more impacted by remoteness and the escalating diversion of permanent housing to holiday homes and short-term rentals platforms like Air BnB,” he said.

“More safe secure affordable housing is needed in these coastal towns to grow our permanent population and to accommodate seasonal workers during peak tourism periods.

“The shortage of skilled and experienced workers along the coast also has the potential to reduce the quality of the visitor experience we proudly offer in our Shire.

“Some Apollo Bay food and accommodation businesses are severely constrained by a shortage of qualified chefs, wait staff or experienced cleaners. Some have had to reduce their opening hours or to close for days at a time.”

He said Council’s CEO would collaborate with the Federal and State Governments, G21, Great Ocean Road Authority and community stakeholders to identify a range of actions to alleviate a housing shortage for coastal workers over the coming summer peak season.

“A report on this will be presented to Councillors at the September Council meeting,” Cr Costin said. 

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