Councillors hobbit-like in pursuit of CBD gold

 

Muddy Waters

 

12 July 2019

Rotorua District councillors sat down this week and seriously discussed ways in which to make the central business district more exciting and attractive to business.

Seriously, I am not joking.  And all this comes:

  • After the disaster of the through-cycleway that wiped out key car park areas,

  • after the gutting of the city focus area and its replacement with a mind-bending amenity so difficult to negotiate it would’ve bamboozled the SAS, and

  • after cancelling our region-first free car parking and replacing it with a somewhat difficult traffic payment system that many are struggling with.

 

These are just a few of the dumb and dumber things this once visionary council has sunk to in its hobbit-like attempts to find and keep the ring of vibrant growth in its increasingly tenuous grasp.

At the council’s Strategy Policy and Finance Committee meeting on Thursday 11 July 2019, councillors were asked to discuss the awkwardly titled: PROGRESS A REVISED RATES REMISSION AND POSTPONEMENT POLICY TO ENCOURAGE INNER CITY DEVELOPMENT

I am glad the title was written in capitals, as the ridiculousness of the situation can be clearly seen by anybody making a judgement of how hamfisted this crowd have become in their management of the fiscals and the politics of this city.

Just to be clear, the originators of this report are as follows:

  • Report prepared by: Portia McKenzie, Strategic Development Manager (District Revitalisation)

  • Report reviewed by: Craig Tiriana, Acting Group Manager Strategy

  • Report approved by: Geoff Williams, Chief Executive

 

In other words, the usual line up of suspects.

Apparently, the purpose of this paper is to gain permission for the council to “revise the rates remission policy” in order to encourage economic development in the inner city, and to “undertake a process of public engagement and consultation of the revision”.

In other words, “we’ve screwed up the inner city and now we are going to throw our hardworking ratepayers’ money around in a desperate attempt to revitalise the very inner-city area that we have been throwing money at with great abandon.”

  1. I thought the cycleway was meant to do that.

  2. I thought the city focus redevelopment was meant to do that.

  3. I thought the library hub was meant to do that.

  4. I thought the Sunday Farmers Market was meant to do that.

 

If these and the other already costly events and attractions (think bells and whistles) cannot do the trick, then why would you trust this lot to throw ratepayers’ money at CBD property owners. 

The report writer for the proposed policy noted that the smaller “retail footprint” (i.e. the continued closure of retail outlets) now existing in the CBD could “offer opportunities for a range of housing types” that would “contribute to night-time vibrancy.”

Maybe the council should ask the Rotorua Homeless Shelter’s Tiny Deane about that; he certainly would be happy to have any contributions to help in his efforts to improve the diversity and vibrancy of city nightlife. 

Tiny wasn’t invited to the meeting but John McRae, the president of the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce, was at the meeting.  Talking about the possibility of rates deals, the business leader couldn’t help but compare Rotorua to Tauranga.

Apparently, the mega-city over the hill doesn’t have to offer inducements for business to come into the place.  Tauranga city leaders can afford not to do that, because “they are trying to control growth, bring growth down, in fact.”

In other words, “growth” is its own engine.  No amount of flash Harry enhancements or inducements is going to make Rotorua’s central city more vibrant.  Something electric is needed nonetheless and Muddy Waters would urge ratepayers to give the incumbents the shock they deserve at the polls.

All but two of the councillors present voted for the proposals.  Those against were Rob Kent and Raj Kumar.

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