Hamilton City Council has voted down plans by Mayor Andrew King to spend ratepayers' money to bring movies and other entertainment to the new CBD park Victoria on the River.
The $6.75 million VOTR opened at the end of January. The mayor proposed spending $19,200 on musicians, movies, a PA system, and outdoor games to kick start events in the new park.
In his report to the first council meeting of the year, Mayor King put forward a motion to spend the money to activate the public space which connects the CBD to the Waikato River.
The majority of his fellow councillors did not agree with him, voting eight to four against it.
Several councillors argued that the event activation money should go to Garden Place, while others said it was not for council to fund events in community spaces.
Councillor James Casson said council should be an enabler but not a funder for entertainment.
"Nancy Caiger is activating Garden Place at the moment so if we are going to do any entertainment stuff it should be in Garden Place," Mr Casson said.
Ms Caiger is part of an informal group called the lovethetron movement that has organised events in Garden Place to show the council a proposed $3.9 million upgrade of the area is not needed. In recent weeks the group has held a petanque competition, a book exchange and organised tai chi demonstrations at Garden Place.
Ms Caiger said the council should not use her events as an excuse to do nothing.
"Council should not use the excuse of community initiated events in public spaces for not investing in public space events and activities," she said.
"Council can play an important role in leading the way with some organised events, in providing the tools that makes it easier for community to engage with the space. For example, a PA system, a makeshift stage, providing flexible, comfortable seating and some shade from sun, wind and rain," Ms Caiger said.
If the mayor's proposal had been approved, events would have been organised by the council's event team, although councillor Angela O'Leary did not believe this was a role for the council.
"Event activation needs to be done properly and I don't believe we are the ones to do it," she said
Ms Caiger said it should be a joint effort by the public and council to get events going in Hamilton's public spaces.
"The key to any expenditure public or council, should be what public good it will generate. The proposed $19,000 expenditure for activating VOTR could be used to show the potential of the site especially the amphitheatre. It could be use to assist groups that want to use the space but may lack sufficient resources."
"When the public starts to see the space as their place they will want to use it more and events will flow.
"Sometimes it just needs someone to show them the potential of the site. That is what I have tried to do with my citizen-led activation of Garden Place."How they votedMayor Andrew King, Deputy Mayor Martin Gallagher and councillors Paula Southgate and Dave Macpherson in favour. Angela O'Leary, Leo Tooman, Rob Pascoe, Garry Mallett, Casson, Mark Bunting, Geoff Taylor and Siggi Henry against.