In it for the long haul

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

The re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of Porirua’s city cen­tre is decades away, Beca’s lead con­sul­tant on the project told us this week.

Not sur­pris­ing re­ally. Bar­ring nat­u­ral dis­as­ter, a city’s lay­out, eco­nom­ics and iden­tity can’t be changed overnight – par­tic­u­larly when its CBD turns its back on the har­bour and there’s a great big bloody mo­tor­way cut­ting the town in half.

Porirua is ev­i­dence of a city planned with­out think­ing of peo­ple, Greg Pol­lock told us. Isn’t that the sad truth?

For all of our splen­did coast­line, di­verse com­mu­ni­ties and mighty sports teams, Porirua is poorly rep­re­sented by its mud­dled ur­ban heart.

Re­ju­ve­nat­ing it will be no easy feat. Just look how many times the re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion project has pe­tered out, been kick-started and changed di­rec­tion in the past 10 years. It’s go­ing to take time and many of the plan­ning lim­i­ta­tions aren’t go­ing away.

Still, many res­i­dents will feel frus­trated by Mr Pol­lack’s prag­matic fore­cast, par­tic­u­larly city work­ers tired of the malaise – eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and so­cial.

Decade-old artis­tic designs for a bright, bustling canopies area have gone un­re­alised, the coun­cil em­bar­rasses it­self try­ing to home a per­for­mance stage, and idiots have em­bar­rassed the city by stag­ing fights for tele­vi­sion cam­eras.

Our ‘‘ quick fix’’ so­lu­tions along­side the page 2 ar­ti­cle this week were in­tended as a bit of fun. But in all se­ri­ous­ness, hav­ing bro­ken record buskers out­side your front door whine their way through Amaz­ing Grace for the umpteenth time, while sil­hou­ettes reg­u­larly uri­nate against an of­fice win­dow, gets old very quickly. Lord knows what vis­i­tors must think.

Reader cor­re­spon­dence over the years has sug­gested a healthy share of res­i­dents couldn’t give a stuff what hap­pens be­tween the mall and the Mega­cen­tre. They will be re­lieved Beca – em­ployed by Porirua City Coun­cil to man­age the project – is tak­ing it slow, and hopeful the whole thing is rel­e­gated to the back­burner with as lit­tle ratepay­ers’ money burned as pos­si­ble. It’s some­what un­der­stand­able. Part of the prob­lem with Porirua’s CBD is that many of the city’s own peo­ple bear no con­nec­tion to it. They work in Welling­ton City and en­joy their spare time in the sub­urbs.

Cer­tainly, our prox­im­ity and ties to Welling­ton will al­ways limit Porirua’s cos­mopoli­tan po­ten­tial. In­ner-city apart­ments? Pie in the sky stuff.

But a city’s civic and busi­ness cen­tre says a lot about its peo­ple. God help us if Porirua’s shouldn’t say more about us than re­tail des­ti­na­tion and va­grant des­o­la­tion.

- Matthew Dal­las, Ed­i­tor

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