Tauranga's four commissioners are hitting the streets to find out what the ratepayers want.
The tour of the city's suburbs comes on the back of the release of the council's Long-term Plan, now out for public feedback.
Tauranga Commissioner Stephen Selwood said he's lost count of the number of public meetings held so far.
"At one stage it was reported that we'd had 200 meetings with stakeholders, organisations and individuals across the city. That was a month ago so we must be up to 250–300 or so now.
"We're out here in the Lakes this evening to share what our Long-term Plan looks like but also very much listening to the issues that the community wants to raise, so that when we come to consider the Long-term Plan, we can bring in all of the ideas, suggestions, opportunities to do things a bit better, a bit differently and bring that into the thinking of the Long-term Plan."
Around 100 local residents descended on Taumata School in Pyes Pa for the event on Wednesday, which was organised by a new ratepayers' group.
"When the commissioners were appointed, we went and did a presentation to them about the Lakes," said Tony Gavin, interim chairman of the Lakes Community Association.
"It was an informative one, we didn't talk a lot about issues but we talked about the Lakes and its community. We had a very good hearing and we were invited to, when the Long-term Plan came out, to set up a meeting and the commissioners said they would come."
Commission chairwoman Anne Tolley began by outlining the community's biggest concerns.
"Housing. The price of housing is unaffordable. People are really worried that their children and grandchildren won't be able to afford to live in the city. Or won't be able to find a rental while they work and save for a house."
Increasing rates were questioned by a member of the audience.
"We came from Auckland too a couple of years ago and we're quite happy to pay the 16-17 per cent increase in the rates but our concern now that we're retired is that going to be every year," one audience member asked.
Commissioner Shad Rolleston replied, "In order for the city to deliver what it needs the rates will be high for a considerable period."
Traffic congestion, particularly around Greerton and along Cameron Rd, was also raised, with Tolley conceding there's no quick fix.
"There's something like 13,000 people coming into the CBD every day from 78 different points of origin."
After an hour of open Q&A, the commissioners left, having made a positive impression on residents.
"I think it's the start of great things," said local resident Dave Foot, "but it comes down to central government. What does NZTA do in terms of infrastructure, what do the other Ministers do in terms of the other areas?"
It was also thumbs up from the Lakes Community Association.
"The people felt that they were heard," said Gavin. "Their issues were heard and they got answers. Not always the answers which solved the problem but the people felt that was an exchange and beneficial to them."
Commissioner Selwood said it is vital everyone takes an interest in how the Long-term Plan unfolds.
"There are some sentiments that are going round politically that we're aware of that are quite negative.
"To all the nay-sayers out there I would say we understand you've got a concern and we're open to listening and hopefully acting on those concerns. But let's have a can-do attitude. Let's look at how we can, between us all, turn this into a fantastic city which it is actually, but it could be better and we want to make it the best it can be."
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