I was invited to meet with Tauranga's new commissioners in their first few weeks at council.
They were keen to understand the priorities of the business community.
Below is a summary of Tauranga Chamber of Commerce's briefing to the commissioners, which sets out our priorities for the commissioners during their 18-month long term at Tauranga City Council.
Tauranga's traffic congestion is significantly impacting businesses as tradies cannot get to site, freight is sitting idle and customers look for alternatives to avoid traffic, such as shopping online.
There is a cost for Tauranga businesses if we do not invest in our transport system, but business owners need to know what the plan is and trust that the plan will be delivered. Tauranga's Transport System Plan has not been well communicated or consulted on to date, which may cause friction when trade-offs need to be made, such as removing streetside car parks for a dedicated bus lane.
Infrastructure to support intensification and new growth:
Tauranga has a critical shortage of new housing and employment zones. The chamber supports a strategy of enabling taller buildings and developing the overdue new greenfield areas.
Tauriko Business Estate is also an example of how desirable employment areas need appropriate infrastructure in place. Tauriko's state highway options have been on the agenda since the 2000s and in my view there needs to be more progress made.
The council also needs to be mindful of its ability to deliver its biggest ever capital works programme – so the city can manage our continued growth.
Innovative funding and financing solutions to support the growth:
Funding is the biggest political topic and whether non-traditional financing tools can help us catch up on our infrastructure deficits.
People must be encouraged to avoid using infrastructure at peak times. This is why the Chamber is dead against blunt user pays instruments such as a regional fuel tax.
Council needs to support more people living and working in the CBD to ensure the city centre remains the cultural and commercial heart of Tauranga. To encourage private sector development to happen, council needs to confirm its long-term solution for its administration building in the CBD.
Streamline consenting and compliance sign offs:
Council's building and compliance team will continue to be inundated with consents, inspections and property file requests. Addressing this bottleneck must be a priority as it is the critical step that turns ideas into action.
The Chamber is hosting a few opportunities for business people to meet the commissioners in late March and early April, to discuss the key issues facing our growing city. Visit the Chamber's website to register for these events: tauranga.org.nz
- Matt Cowley is the chief executive for Tauranga Chamber of Commerce.