AS A member of the Grantville and District Residents and Ratepayers Association, I attended the joint meeting of that association and the Grantville and District Business and Tourism Association on October 12.
The meeting voted that the two associations combine to form a new association, the Grantville Business and Community Association. Congratulations and thanks to all those who served on the earlier two committees and those who will serve on the new committee.
During the evening the word “progress” came up a number of times. What is progress? The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary defines it as “forward movement, advance, improvement, development, increase”.
What does progress mean to the people of the Grantville area? To take an extreme view, if developers see the resources we have here as up for exploitation at any cost, and people in the name of progress support such development for short-term gain without counting the long-term cost, we could end up looking like the cartoon on the back page of a Mad magazine I read when a kid. Except for a tiny patch of remnant rainforest in the middle, it showed a planet covered in concrete and high rise buildings. From a tree in the rainforest the big eyes of a terrified possum looked out as a bulldozer roared towards it.
To me progress means sustainable development. Anything less and we kill the very things people are attracted to in the Grantville area. Many of us have come here for lifestyle amenity reasons, such as the more relaxed lifestyle, the rolling green farmlands, the coastal areas and safe bay, the native vegetation stands (the largest pre-European native vegetation stands on the eastern side of Western Port) and the animals and birds that live and visit here. It’s not enough to expect our fauna to survive in the relatively small protected nature reserves already set aside, and roadside and various coastal strips and other remnant bush.
According to the Bass Coast Shire Council’s Environment Sustainability Plan 2008-2013: “One of the most critical local environmental issues for Bass Coast is that there is less than 10 per cent of indigenous bush remaining from pre 1700s. There is research and a common acceptance that if there is 35 per cent cover of native vegetation then 75-80 per cent of species can survive, but below that level extinctions can accelerate rapidly.”
In the Grantville area and throughout the rest of the shire, when thinking about progress, we need to remember that we must protect our wildlife if we do not want it to disappear. We need to increase wildlife corridors to connect our areas of bush, and not allow subdivisions across natural corridors through farmland and remnant bushland, as has happened in our area in the past.
While it is good to see a medical centre, a pharmacy and other shops in Grantville’s centre, we must weigh up carefully what else we wish for. Look at Cranbourne, Tooradin, Berwick and Pakenham and other areas being swallowed up by development, progress or whatever name we wish to call the relentless swallowing up of our market gardens and rural land. Ever wondered what happens when we can no longer feed ourselves?
Do we want to see our local identity swallowed up so we are no or little different from other towns along our highways or indeed from suburbia?
Progress means different things to different people. Before deciding what it means to us, it is worth looking about our area to decide what we value about it and how best to preserve and protect it. I suggest it is by supporting only sustainable development.