It's fair to say Rotorua's riding a wave of positivity at the moment. A new mayor and a drive to freshen up our CBD has all helped. So the last thing this city needs is a major issue dividing locals.
That's what the Rotorua Eastern Arterial had the potential to do.
The proposed highway on the eastern suburbs of our city, which will take through traffic away from Te Ngae Rd, has been a hot topic ever since it was proposed. In April, the New Zealand Transport Agency announced its preferred route for the new highway, which would see it going through about 50 properties and affecting three Te Arawa hapu.
It is no surprise the proposal attracted such strong protest from those affected. This is their homes we are talking about. To their credit, the opposers aren't a bunch of radicals who protest at anything. They have been dignified in their opposition. Perhaps that's why the New Zealand Transport Agency has reacted the way it has. Yesterday, it announced it was postponing the next step in the process as it takes more time to consult with locals.
This is wise.
The latest Census shows Rotorua has failed to grow in the past seven years, in fact there are now about 600 fewer people living here.
While I'm sure we'll need a bypass one day in Rotorua, perhaps there isn't so much urgency, allowing us time to make sure as many people are happy with it as possible.
The New Zealand Transport Agency should be congratulated for allowing this breather to make sure we are headed down the right track.