By Michael Giles
ONCE upon a time, the end of the Easter break marked the start of the off-season for permanent residents of Phillip Island and to a lesser extent, those living at Inverloch.
Everyone could put their feet up on the desk for a few weeks and heave a big sigh of relief.
But the truth of it is that the Island is busy all year around now, and as we have stated before, governments at all levels need to acknowledge it by providing the appropriate level of infrastructure, and we’re not just talking about adequate road access.
Last weekend’s traffic jams, going to and from the Island, are nothing new. In fact, on Easter Monday in particular, the exit off the island was compounded by the crowds attending the Lang Lang Rodeo.
But these days, traffic congestion is a much more common occurrence and it’s simply one of the many areas of fallout from failing to provide adequately for growth.
To give them their due, the Bass Coast Shire Council is at least trying to respond by committing its own funds, and advocating for funding from the government, for the ‘Cowes Revitalisation Project’.
And the ‘Phillip Island Tourism Strategy 2035’ will hopefully provide the council with the narrative and the recommendations to take to government in the hope of getting other improvements.
Most would welcome the plans to turn the Jetty Triangle into an attractive centrepiece for visitors, and the idea of redeveloping the transit centre seems to be fair enough, especially if more regular bus services are part of the deal.
And there appears to be merit in some sort of redevelopment of the cultural centre, although the whole idea is suffering badly from a lack of consensus.
Really, though, it’s just chicken feed.
There’s a whole lot more that should reasonably be provided so that Phillip Island can cater to the hundreds of thousands (most from Melbourne) who have a right to enjoy their holiday time at a beautiful island playground so close to home.
The state government should, for example, immediately tick off on the redevelopment of Australia’s second biggest tourist attraction, the Penguin Parade.
And it should also revisit the proposal for a car ferry to Phillip Island but one that doesn’t land in the middle of Cowes.
Other road (and bridge?) improvements are also needed.
As are next level visitor attractions, like an aquatic centre, that could also be used as a ‘learn to swim’ venue for locals.
A new state secondary college, a hospital and a full-function waste transfer station, that’s open seven days from 8.30am to 4.30pm; these are all needed now, as is a plan to properly protect the foreshore and natural environment.
It’s time governments at all levels seriously acknowledged Phillip Island’s role in the development of the state and committed to a long-term plan for improvement.
The Bass Coast Shire Council could start by trying to clear the air with disgruntled local residents in a genuinely open and transparent way.