Whangarei will celebrate its CBD makeover tonight with a light show on the new weatherproof canopy.

Whangarei District Council's Laneway project has been under construction for about a year and involved the conversion of a block of Cameron and 50 metres of James St into a pedestrian-friendly shared space. The 13-metre high ethylene tetrafluoroethylene canopy was then added.

The entire project looked set to come in about 10 per cent over its $2.7 million budget, largely due to the higher-than-expected cost of relocating underground services. Some aspects - like the decorative light poles at the end of Quality St - were added as the project progressed.

The canopy surrounds an existing melia tree and covered a stage and seating area, designed as an entertainment hub.

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As it geared up to celebrate, the council was also trying to iron out parking issues in the Laneway and warned it would soon start ticketing vehicles.

General parking was now banned in the laneway, as drivers continued to park haphazardly, though some loading zones and disabled spaces would remain.

Group manager district living Paul Dell said fewer parked cars would make the space "friendly" for everyone.

"People had been parking in areas not designated for parking, making it less pedestrian-friendly, increasing the chance of a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle and blocking delivery vehicles out of loading zones.

"Removing these general car parks will make the nature of the area more obvious to those passing through it, in vehicles and on foot," he said.

People were encouraged to instead use the Central City Carpark, entrance off James St, where there was two hours' free parking on the top level.

The light show is from 4pm tonight at the Cameron St Laneway.