It’s an us and them situation. Is Braidwood for us, the locals, or for them, the visitors?
In the hearts and minds of many Canberrans, the town has nostalgia. And as much as the town might scorn the “bakery blow-ins”, those pie-purchasers also bring dollars as they wander Wallace Street.
Braidwood is a thriving, vibrant, bustling town, and to a large extent that’s made possible by those who don’t just drive through, but stop, look around and make a purchase or two.
Nostalgia means a sense of ownership, however. Some tourists would have the town never change, or change just to suit them.
Visitor amenity must be balanced with local amenity. It’s no good having the tourist dollar if locals can’t even cross the main road.
Here, the question of a bypass is inevitably raised. This is by all means a tricky issue. A constant flow of traffic is dangerous, and unsightly and, as Canberra grows, it’s certainly not going to lessen.
However, giving coast-goers the option to flick right past Braidwood at 100km/h has the potential to kill many a local business.
Our relationship with the Kings Highway is symbiotic.
Braidwood needs to be a livable town for locals. But, to live, Braidwood needs a thriving local economy, which does mean accommodating the needs of visitors.
To survive, Braidwood needs to be a destination in its own right. If it’s worth visitors coming, and staying, a bypass is no danger.