Ex-Sydneysider STUART PEARSON looks at Bathurst and its future from the perspective of a new resident.
For many of us, this is the one time of the year that we reflect on the past and make plans for the future.
What a crazy, unprecedented, difficult year the past 12 months has been: drought, fires, sporadic floods, downturn in the economy and then the world ravaged by a global pandemic.
Perhaps it would be best described as a year that everyone wants to forget.
OTHER RECENT FRESH PAIR OF EYES COLUMNS:
Looking forward, there are opportunities for Bathurst to have a much better future than we have had over the past 12 months.
There is a wish list of projects that many Bathurstians have spoken about over the years - projects that will separately and collectively contribute to this city and its surrounds prospering and developing into a major regional location.
This column would like to share some of those subjects with you.
Water security. This is the most important matter for the long-term future of Bathurst and the Central West.
There is no future without water and, unfortunately, it is becoming less plentiful. Our weather patterns are becoming unstable, with long periods of dry conditions punctuated by excessive rain.
One of the best ways to smooth out the extremes of drought and flood is with dams, but we have not had a new one built in the region since the late 1940s, when Bathurst's population was 13,000. It is currently 43,000.
Roads and rail. The NSW Government has spent billions of dollars improving the transport infrastructure within Sydney and along the coast to its north and south.
The duplication of the Pacific Highway from Sydney to Queensland was completed only last month - after 20 years and $14 billion!
Once this current wave of projects has finished, the NSW Government will turn its attention to improving transport links over the mountains to the west of Sydney.
In many respects, this task has already begun with billions of dollars being allocated for road improvements between Katoomba and Lithgow, and planning underway for an upgraded rail link from Sydney to Parkes.
Improved road and rail transport between Sydney and the west will boost the regional economy and boost the local population, which leads nicely into the next point.
Planning for the Bathurst LGA. Bathurst is already one of the fastest growing local government areas in regional NSW.
With improvements to the road and rail system - resulting in shorter, safer, and more comfortable travel times between Sydney and Bathurst - that growth will accelerate.
At the moment, Bathurst Council is planning for an anticipated population of 55,000 by 2040. Some people suggest this figure should in fact be 60,000 or even 65,000.
If a higher-than-expected population happens, then Bathurst Council faces the difficult task of managing growth without destroying the very aspects that attract people here in the first place, such as the city's friendliness, ease of movement, productive lands, and its wonderful lifestyle.
These three major issues are not the only matters that should concern council.
The list could include beautifying the central business district; expanding medical facilities; encouraging Charles Sturt University to refocus and reinvigorate its Bathurst campus; attracting more tourists and businesses; exploring renewable energy and being responsible for the environment.
To that list, I would especially add reawakening a cultural renaissance in Bathurst through history and heritage.
So many matters to consider, so little time to do so.