In it for the long haul
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