Hands up all of you that have had a good look at the Whangārei City Centre Plan 2017… It's been around a while, so all of you should at least have had a quick look!
On the whole, this would seem to be the heart of a solid plan capable of breathing life into Whangārei's CBD, even though it does have a few gaps here and there.
Mayor Sheryl Mai and her team - in particular Alison Geddes, general manager planning and development - are committed to a solid framework that has the courage to look more that 30 years into the future and, if future regimes stay the course, will deliver a centre we can all be proud of.
However, I can not but comment on the obvious fact that so many of the "rewards" of the plan are a long way off.
Here at NorthChamber (NZ Chambers of Commerce Northland), we support "The Plan", but recognise that a fluid, fast action plan is essential to keep the heart beating while it is being delivered over the next 30 years.
Accordingly, we propose to lead a team that with broad support from the community and our district council will be able to "bend the rules a little" to support business success in our dying CBD and give the community at large something to dance about!
Let's look at a few examples:
More street events such as the hugely successful cars and coffee, art fairs, food fairs, music and educational breakouts.
Events targeting individual businesses, featuring auctions and other spotlight type activities.
Making use of the many untenanted shopfronts for short term promotion of business and education.
Public speaking and other live communication, perhaps a town crier.
Street sporting events…..
It's been done before you say. Yes it has, so let's do it again and have some real fun!
So, mayor, empower us to make it happen, give us the internal connections to break through the bureaucracy and get this pumping! There are those of you out there that have, or would like to play a part, I look forward to hearing from you.
■ Stephen Smith is the Northland Chamber of Commerce's chief executive.