Like many coastal areas, the City of Victor Harbor Council in South Australia manages a municipality with a 'split personality'. While for much of the year the district's 10,000 permanent citizens live a relatively quiet life, the advent of the tourist season in the warmer months of the year can see the population increase four fold.
This places considerable strain on infrastructure. Council must balance the requirements of seasonal demand against the ongoing needs of its permanent residents.
Situated on the southernmost coastline of South Australia, Victor Harbor is also the fastest growing non metropolitan Council in South Australia. This adds to the demands on existing infrastructure.
In spite of limited funding and its small size, Council and staff use creative initiatives to extend the availability of facilities and increase the opportunities for leisure and other programs. Tourism, the largest industry in the district, brings with it benefits and challenges.
As well as maximising tourism opportunities, additional infrastructure also benefits local residents. However, Council must also be prepared to cope with the downside of the industry, including an upsurge in graffiti and over enthusiastic New Year revelry.
Plans are currently underway to extend the existing recreation centre, while construction of a coastal drive in Encounter Bay, a bikeway trail from the Bluff to Port Elliott, and a bridge over the Hindmarsh River will all add to leisure facilities.
Facilities catering for the increasing number of residents and retirees from non English speaking backgrounds, in the district, has seen a growth in sports such as patonk, rugby and soccer. A new Kiosk has been constructed, along with a new Tourist Office ready to commence operations for the 1998 season.
The beauty of the area has long proved an magnet for South Australia's many artists, and the district has the highest number of artists per capita in South Australia. While there are a number of small galleries, Council plans to build an Arts Centre that will provide a bigger permanent venue and add to the district's many attractions.
This summer the French consulate will spend time in the district preparing for the 200th anniversary celebration of the meeting between explorers Matthew Flinders and Frenchman Nicholas Baudin. This took place off the area now known as Encounter Bay.
A visit from a French navy frigate is expected to add flavour to the celebrations along with the construction of a replica sculpture of Flinders' cat 'Trim'. The waxing and waning of population numbers is now second nature to the staff at Victor Harbor who are 'on call' throughout the Christmas holiday period.
"One of the principle advantages that comes from the district's close knit permanent community is the spirit of cooperation that exists between various service providers," said Liz Cooper, Deputy Mayor. "Council, the Service Clubs, Fire, Police and Emergency Services all work together which makes coping easier and more efficient."