Ideas aplenty for town centre

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Oamaru’s liveability as a town and how to improve people’s lifestyles are important elements to consider, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.
He recently attended the International Cities, Town Centres and Communities Society’s Mainstreet conference in Melbourne, to see and hear about what other towns and cities had done to make their centres more appealing.
Established in the 1990s, the society aims to help cities, towns and communities to be as environmentally, socially and economically sustainable as possible, and to enhance the quality of life of inhabitants.
Mr Kircher said he gleaned some ideas from the conference that had the potential to work in the Waitaki district.
“Even from the biggest of city planners, there were elements I think are going to be useful to discuss around the district’s townships in Waitaki.
“There were a lot of things around bringing people into town centres, creating areas that are more lifestyle than just commerce … all those things that come together to make place more liveable.”
Mr Kircher said one idea that piqued his interest was the pedestrianisation of streets, which had already been seen in Oamaru in the form of the council’s decision to close Harbour St to vehicle traffic on Fridays and at weekends between Labour Weekend and Easter.
“There’s some ideas there that certainly we’re able to steal and implement
here,” he said.
Another centred on more green space in Oamaru’s central business district.
“We’ve long talked about having a more village green approach to lower Thames St.
“Equally, there’s ideas around improving spaces in some of our smaller communities to give them a real centre for the community to enjoy.”
Earlier this year, an urban park, at the current site of the Oamaru Farmers’ Market, was proposed as part of the 2017-18 annual plan at a cost of $215,000.
Funding was allocated for the project, but detailed discussions have yet to take place and no design plans have been considered.
In February, Mr Kircher told the Otago Daily Times the park would not compromise parking, but would contain both “hard landscaping” and “soft landscaping” and would complement the area’s already established identity.
Bike stands or lockers for Alps 2 Ocean trail bike riders, drinking fountains, seating, lighting and a stage were all possibilities, he said.
Mr Kircher said a report on his Melbourne trip would point to “more specific possibilities” that he hoped would be considered by the council as part of its long-term plan process.
His trip was not funded by ratepayers.