Capes pop­u­la­tion en­joys boom

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - War­ren Hately Scot­tish cou­ple Luke and Char­lotte John­ston moved to Mar­garet River in June.

The lat­est data from the Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics shows the Capes re­gion boasts some of the fastest-grow­ing towns in re­gional Aus­tralia.

With pop­u­la­tion stag­nant across big parts of the coun­try, Mar­garet River and Bus­sel­ton are buck­ing the trend.

Mar­garet River’s pop­u­la­tion grew 2.8 per cent dur­ing the past 12 months, while the “Bus­sel­ton re­gion” in­creased num­bers by 3.2 per cent.

Au­gusta grew 2.5 per cent since the pre­vi­ous stud­ies in 2016.

By con­trast, re­gional WA’s av­er­age pop­u­la­tion growth was 1.7 per cent, while met­ro­pol­i­tan Perth lost res­i­dents by 0.1 per cent.

As re­ported ear­lier this year, driven by a surge in build­ing ap­provals, Cowaramup was one of the fastest-grow­ing re­gional towns in the coun­try.

New ar­rivals Char­lotte and Luke John­ston moved to Mar­garet River midyear and were mar­ried at Gnarabup in March.

Af­ter some time in Perth, the Scot­tish-born cou­ple said they moved to the South West for the climate, sun­shine and en­vi­able life­style.

“We just love it here,” Mr John­ston said.

A grow­ing pop­u­la­tion was also a chal­lenge to Capes lo­cal gov­ern­ments, with ratepay­ers al­ready charged more than many Perth res­i­dents, in part due to in­fras­truc­ture for tourists.

Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River pres­i­dent Pam Town­shend said bal­anc­ing in­creased den­sity in ur­ban cen­tres with pro­tect­ing ex­ist­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal re­serves was a big fo­cus in plan­ning for growth.

The re­gion’s pop­u­lar­ity also made a case for State and Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment fund­ing to sup­port in­fras­truc­ture up­grades and tourism, Cr Town­shend said.

“(We) con­tinue part­ner­ing with the lo­cal busi­ness peo­ple to build a strong and di­verse lo­cal economy which can pro­vide mean­ing­ful jobs and in­comes suf­fi­cient for peo­ple to con­tinue to live in their home Shire, and not have to leave to get a job with enough in­come,” she said.

Mayor Grant Hen­ley said the City of Bus­sel­ton’s pop­u­la­tion grew 21.7 per cent in the past five years.

“With pop­u­la­tion pro­jec­tions for 2026 reach­ing 50,000, this makes us one of the fastest-grow­ing re­gions in WA,” he said.

Pop­u­la­tion growth was an­tic­i­pated by City plan­ners, and coun­cil de­ci­sion-mak­ing had “fo­cused on job growth, pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties, aged-care fa­cil­i­ties and plan­ning for sus­tained de­vel­op­ment”.

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Pic­ture: War­ren Hately

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