31 December 2014
Spa city ventures, capitalising on the cycleway, earthquake prone buildings and among challenges for 2015 Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick talks about in an interview with Kevin O'Connor from Rotorua news and information web site themud.co.nz.
Steve Chadwick said she was confident of economic growth and outlined the range of projects coming up for already underway as signals of the benefits flowing through to people in Rotorua.
“I know the sensitivity of some major projects that will be announced [in 2015] that are nearly over the line. They are around the spa, and I believe when you signal leadership in an area, like we are the spa and hot springs [centre] of the Pacific, now investment is starting to flow.
“And so that that’s the significant commitments that council makes.
“The other one is [commitment] is definitely to cycling economic development. Actually its going so fast that there will be greater growth there than 16 per cent per annum. That’s huge for Rotorua.
“And I think the green corridor is symbolic of linking up not only activities in the forest and the Enduro track for Crankworx but [also] the fact that we can get around the city more safely is a good thing for the community to feel too.
“But the economic benefits are flowing so fast that we are having to gear up as a city to meet it. What a delicious challenge that is.”
The Mud: “That’s a question about the economic benefits. How are citizens, ratepayers, but primarily citizens, going to see those benefits?”
The Mayor: “Well, they will certainly see that they can ride through town safely and that will happen sooner that they would’ve ever seen. In fact, we wouldn’t have been able to afford it as a council if we didn’t get the NZTA [New Zealand Transport Authority] funding. So have a plan….”
The Mud “Where are economic benefits?”
The Mayor: “Well economic benefits, and there’s a lot of studies that show that cyclists bring a greater economic gain to a retail and commercial area than cars do.
“So people are starting to see those economic benefits and until we have it they won’t see that. But it’s symbolising that there’s life here.
“I believe the next step for us that’s hard and it is hard, and we will have to face it [in 2015] are those buildings that are left that people will never see as fit for purpose.”
At this point, the mayor referred to a three-storey office building being constructed for Glenn Hawkins and Associates in Fenton Street.
“Glen Hawkins - it’s very clear: what excitement to see him building a three-storey building in Fenton Street. But he looked at some of our other buildings but the cost of making them earthquake strengthened and then fit for purpose was not economically viable. So he went to a green fields investment site.”
The Mud: The earthquake strengthening thing is something that the council and building owners still have to deal with sometime?”
The Mayor: “We do; we do and that’s a big challenge for us [in 2015]. And some primary thinking has happened in the economic development portfolio but I think we’ve really got to get some teeth around that now.”