Tauranga's transport woes were a hot topic as public hearings on the council's budget for the next year got under way today.
It was not the only Annual Plan issue people wanted to bend Tauranga City Council's ear on, however, with housing, the living wage and buses also raised.
Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber urged the council to be financially and strategically invested in the Urban Form and Transport Initiative, because it was a "once opportunity" to fix the transport issues leaders were obligated to sort out.
"It is time for our councils to be bold, open and honest if we are to get over this gridlock," Webber said.
"We can't kick the can down the road any more ... we must ensure the red herrings are discounted at the earliest possible opportunity."
He said local leaders needed to approach the central government with "hard data" in 2020 to push through changes, not "just throw rocks at each other".
Greater Tauranga spokeswoman Heidi Hughes supported the formation of the initiative and urged the council to involve the community in all stages of development.
She called for "low hanging fruit" such as cycling routes and a bus lane from Bayfair to Hewletts Rd to be implemented.
She suggested the council establish a multi-purpose "development office", similar to Panuku Development Auckland, to help drive and manage development in Tauranga.
She said the city needed to be "at the table" during the Hamilton passenger rail pilot to prepare for the future interregional transport network.
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Hughes also called for climate change mitigation to be a driving core principle in all major decisions made by the council.
SmartGrowth Housing Affordability Forum chairwoman Christine Ralph asked the council to dedicate money for creating affordable housing.
Ralph said there had been progress but it was not fast enough.
"We've told you for 10 years there's a crisis coming and it's here."
Forum member Libby Gosling said people affected by the housing shortage were "inherently less vocal" than those protesting issues such as traffic.
Councillor John Robson said the issue was largely beyond the control of councils and was in central government's hands.
"We don't have the wealth or ability to change this situation. It's not malice or ignorance," he said.
Income Equality Aotearoa NZ chairman Peter Malcolm pushed for the living wage to be extended to all council-controlled organisations and agencies, not just core council staff.
He said the living wage brought in an annual salary of $44,000.
Malcolm said Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless was on a $156,000 annual salary - four times the living wage - and chief executive Marty Grenfell made $400,000 a year, nine times the living wage.
Malcolm also called for subsidised or free bus fares for students at any time of the day, because it would help alleviate traffic and save parents money.
The hearings will continue tomorrow.