DIVISION still abounds in Bermagui as an application to build a Woolworths supermarket in the tourist town is due to be discussed at tomorrow’s council meeting.
While many residents have previously spoken out against the development - during public forums and through the BDN letters and website - others are all for it, saying it will be of benefit to Bermagui’s ageing and tourist population.
One of those residents in favour of Woolworths’ arrival is pensioner Shayne Brooks, who said it would would be “a godsend” to the tourist town.
“I have lived in Bermi for about two years now and I have quite a number of friends who are for Woolworths,” Mr Brooks said.
“We are waiting for it to be built so we don't have to travel to either Bega or Narooma.
“Woolworths does support the local community and all the visitors that come here won't have to take their money out of town.
“Wouldn’t you rather spend your money in the town rather than take it elsewhere?
“I believe Woolworths would be a godsend as it will increase the tourist dollars
“Some people are worried about the traffic, but we already have traffic with tourists and the SPAR delivery trucks.
“What about the co-op? There were a lot against that, but they still went ahead and built it didn't they?”
Also in favour of the development is Irene Jacek, a nurse working in Moruya and Batemans Bay hospitals.
“I already have to travel out from Bermi to work four days a week - it would be nice to shop in my area at affordable prices,” Ms Jacek said.
“I have a dietary problem and require gluten free products that our SPAR doesn't carry, and what is there is very expensive.
“I would like to retire from work in the next few years as I am 61.
“The constant driving to work and shopping is tiring and petrol prices seem to go up at a whim.
“Woolies in Bermi would be convenient for retirees and people without the use of a car.
“The alternative would be the bus to Bega and drag shopping home.”
The positive spin on the supermarket giant’s potential arrival echoes Woolworths’ own reports.
In its DA submitted to the Bega Valley Shire Council, Woolworths said the supermarket would prevent residents from having to travel to Narooma or Bega for their major shop, help to promote price competition and increase the town’s tourist appeal (BDN, 17/4/12).
It estimated 79 new jobs would be created once the supermarket opens, on top of 33 new jobs during construction.
Retailers in Bermagui, it argued, will also benefit.
Woolworths’ figures show $22million a year currently “escapes” Bermagui as residents – half of them aged over 50 - do their supermarket and other shopping in Narooma or Bega.
Owner of the town’s current supermarket SPAR, Wayne Harrison, agreed competition is good for customers, but questioned why Woolworths was even considering building in the small seaside town.
“It’s good to have competition,” Mr Harrison said.
“You can’t stop competition in business, but I can’t see how Bermagui can sustain it [Woolworths].
“I hope Woolworths and the Bega shire [council] know something I don’t.
“For them to move in there must mean there is good news on the horizon for Bermagui.”
Mr Harrison said he had no plans to pull up stumps if the Woolies DA is approved.
“I won’t be going anywhere unless they drive us out,” he said.
“But if nothing else happens in Bermagui I won’t be the only one closing down.”
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