It was an unusual scene at Baypark yesterday.
In a nondescript room gathered nearly every senior official, elected or otherwise, with any responsibility for ensuring growth does not turn our beloved Western Bay into a gridlocked, unaffordable urban hellscape.
Not their words.
In a show of unity, three councils - Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty District and Bay of Plenty Regional - met back-to-back to approve a plan for managing growth over the next 50 years.
It has a $7 billion estimated cost, but no funding commitments have been made yet.
The plan was also approved by Smartgrowth, a partnership between the councils, tangata whenua, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.
The plan, which assumed a 2070 population of 400,000, was variously described as a "milestone", "thorough" and an unprecedented piece of work.
It was contained in the 140-page final report of the Urban Form and Transport Initiative (UFTI), a nearly $2.5 million joint project between Smartgrowth and the agency.
UFTI began in December 2018, tasked with reviewing years of plans and strategies to find the best ideas and fill the gaps between them to produce a cohesive strategy.
Project director Robert Brodnax said the report was a business case for Government buy-in, an "investment story" for Treasury analysts and the core of a new joint spatial plan for the Western Bay all rolled into one.
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It was also, said Smartgrowth independent chairman Bill Wasley, "the easy part".
Or as Western Bay mayor Garry Webber put it: "The hui is over, mahi [work] and putea [money] is about to begin."
From here, the councils have to decide how to develop, implement and fund the plan, then sustain that effort over decades, while keeping the community on side through significant change - and elections.
Attempts to work together in this area have been made in the past.
Stuart Crosby, former mayor of Tauranga and now a regional councillor, said leaders had "stumbled often".
"In the last five years, we lost sight at times of where we were heading. We took some things for granted."
Crosby said he was confident that would not happen this time, but it would take some "bravery" from politicians to make it work.
"It's a big shift from where we were in terms of just looking at where the roads should go.
"This is going to be a massive challenge moving forward for the whole community."
Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell urged the group to "stick together" and regional council chairman Doug Leeder said the group should seek "aggressive accountability" for the implementation of the plan.
The UFTI plan - now overseen by Smartgrowth into the next phase - envisages a region where higher density housing - and whole new communities - are built around four dedicated high-frequency public transport corridors.
These would run through the centre, from Tauriko to Mount Maunganui via Cameron Rd, east via Te Maunga and Wairakei/Te Tumu to Paengaroa, west into the Kaimai range via State Highway 36 and Tauriko, and north to Waihi via Takitimu Drive and Bethlehem.
The transport system, in general, would be gradually transitioned to multi-modal, with a goal of keeping most work commutes to 35-40 minutes or less.
Another goal was to have better housing affordability than the national average - a big ask given Tauranga has, by some measures, New Zealand's most unaffordable market.
New communities would be gradually developed in the east, west and north, connected to public transport and job hubs.
Greenfield developments would aim for an average density of 30 dwellings per hectare, and most existing suburbs would also be touched by intensification, but especially the Te Papa peninsula, Otumoetai and surrounding suburbs, and Mount Maunganui and Arataki.
A CBD-Mount-maybe Omokoroa ferry service was looking promising, but passenger rail would not be viable for a few decades at least.
A decision about where new harbour crossing lanes should go would be made in the next 10 years, before the Matapihi Rail Bridge is due for replacement.
Costs of delivering the programme would be largely split between the Government/NZTA and councils, with other funding options to also be investigated.
The programme will inform many other pieces of planning work, including a new joint spatial plan that was expected be publicly consulted early next year.
It would happen around the same time councils were putting together their next Long-Term Plans - budgets and work plans for the next decade.
What happens next?
Yesterday's approvals - which did not include funding commitments - mean the plan is now destined for Wellington for endorsement by the Government later this month and the board of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency in August.
Minister of Urban Development and Transport Phil Twyford told the Bay of Plenty Times he would take the plan to Cabinet where he expected it would be endorsed.
He also expected Cabinet to approve an invitation from the Smartgrowth councils for the Government to formally join the partnership. This would see three ministers given voting rights in the leadership group.
Asked what he would say to a current resident worried about the scale of change proposed, he said the Western Bay was an extraordinary place with a vibrant economy, and a desirable place to live.
"But unless we manage the growth challenge for infrastructure, housing and transport right, it won't be much of a place for our kids, and their kids.
"I think the plan that has been worked out really offers and a new and better way to tackle congestion and build more homes in places where people want to live at prices they can afford."
Twyford said relationships between the councils, central Government and its agencies were "incredibly positive".