State of the city
Brimming with optimism, mayor Grant Smith delivered his State of the City address on Friday to one of the the city’s oldest extant clubs, the Palmerston North Lunch Club, founded in 1919.
‘‘I firmly believe Palmerston North is starting to realise its potential and is a city on the rise.’’
Smith said people might talk about the ‘‘golden triangle’’ of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, but the city was sitting at the centre of the ‘‘platinum triangle of Taranaki, Wellington and Hawkes Bay’’.
‘‘Palmerston North is in a very good space... possibly the best it has been in two decades.’’
According to economic, cultural, and social indicators, the city’s economic ducks were beginning to align.
‘‘The city is flying well - despite flying a little under the radar.’’
A growing population of 86,500, and the centre of a wider regional population catchment approaching 240,000, was underpinning strengthening economic growth.
He wouldn’t be surprised if the city population reached 90,000 by the early 2020s.
Over the next three to six years Smith said the region would see over half a billion external dollars spent on infrastructure, with the $397 million Defence Force capital investment programme, the $39 million food science facility at Massey University’s Food HQ and the development of the regional ring road.
Smith called the regional ring road, which includes the possibility of a second Manawatu River crossing off the end of Camp Rd, ‘‘an absolute game changer’’, with work on the initial phases beginning shortly.
He was equally upbeat about prospects for the Agrifood Centre based around Massey University and the Crown Research Institutes that could make the city ’’an agri-food powerhouse of the southern hemisphere’’.
‘‘I’ve had a look at the plans, and they really excited me.’’
The wide ranging address covered topics from transport - including KiwiRail and electric vehicles - logistics and freight figures, to CBD and Cuba St upgrades; a new grandstand at CET Arena, and development of a new international hockey turf.
Smith also outlined improved social, cultural, and recreational opportunities and amenities.
While the No.1 priority was to deliver value for ratepayers, as a council he said ‘‘we can afford to be a little more ambitious - I think we have plenty to celebrate’’.
Mayor Grant Smith addressing the Palmerston North Lunch Club.