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It’s time to have your say on the future of business and the CBD in Oamaru.

If the North Otago town is to develop a town square, Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan says it is important all stakeholders have an input.

“You can’t just look at one aspect in isolation. If we are looking at the district plan you have to look at the harbourside, the historic area as well as retail and the north end,” Mr McGowan said.

“You don’t want to leave anybody out of those discussions because it is all part of the same ecosystem.”

Planning for the long term also had to take into account other issues, such as roading and climate change, he said.

“It is a much bigger picture than just what is going to happen in certain sectors throughout the city.

“If we create a strong community we will have more sustainable businesses. If we have more sustainable businesses there will be more people employed.”

Oamaru Business Collective has organised two meetings – a town marketing and promotions meeting on September 3, and a meeting with the Waitaki District Council on September 4 to discuss a proposal for a town square.

Since its inception last month, the Oamaru Business Collective has grown to 70 members, founder Annabel Berry said.

The upcoming marketing and promotions meeting, at the Brydone Hotel, aimed to get businesses working together to promote local business collectively before Christmas and beyond, Mrs Berry said.

“We have invited business members and representatives from council and the Chamber of Commerce to see how we can work [together],” she said.

“Included in this discussion will be an annual events calendar, shop local campaigns, night markets, events and festivals.

“Our aim is to see how we can work together to drive vibrancy and foot traffic to the CBD.”

The following day, Mrs Berry and other Oamaru Business Collective delegates will meet the council to discuss the proposed town square.

Last month, Mrs Berry presented a town square concept, designed by Anna Hopkins, which included green space from Itchen St to Meek St, with outdoor seating, art installations, an area for concerts and events and a walkway to the Victorian precinct.

Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher said the council had been working alongside the Oamaru Business Collective on the future of retail and the development of a town square.

Once the council’s draft district plan review was released, it would be put out for consultation and Mr Kircher said it was important people gave feedback.

“I think a lot of people don’t bother with these things until it affects them – and by then it is too late,” he said.

“It is about people thinking about their situation and how it might affect them – what they want to have around them and what they don’t.”