Public keen for action on city's latest river blueprint

21:57, Jun 02 2014
Julie's river plan
GRAND VISION: The city’s 30-year plan would put the Waikato River at the heart of the city.

An ambitious 30-year scheme to connect Hamilton with the Waikato River has drawn a positive response from Waikato Times readers.

The Times was given a sneak preview of the Hamilton City River Plan last week and revealed some of the concepts which could flow from it, such as a river swimming pool at Wellington St Beach.

Further details of the plan will be unveiled at a public drop-in day on Saturday ahead of its completion in August. Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker said the plan, once finished, would create a blueprint for how Hamilton could better engage with the 16-kilometre stretch of the Waikato River that runs through the city.

Improving access to the river would be a big part of the plan, Hardaker said, including improving opportunities for people to see the river.

"So often I hear people say that we have our backs to the river.

"More opportunities to access the river will increase pride in our city and leave a lasting impression on visitors who come here," she said.


Times reader Ian Hanley said Hardaker's river plan followed on from an idea of former Hamilton mayor Margaret Evans to create a Millennium Esplanade - a footbridge and esplanade for cafes and shops.

The esplanade was removed from the city's long-term plan in 2006.

"Let's turn the ‘talk' into action and really put our river city Kirikiriroa on the tourist map," Hanley said.

"Two key issues should be addressed.

"Firstly of course must be river water quality.

"We don't want our children and tourists infected by what currently flows past unseen caused by upstream runoff into the water.

"Second, it may also be time to talk to Christchurch City Council and negotiate adding the Ellerslie International Flower Show to our Hamilton Gardens riverside tourist canvas."

Another Times reader, David Cashmore, said the river plan was a "fantastic vision" and urged the council to act on it as soon as possible.

Michael Butler said Hamilton could look to other river cities for inspiration.

Prague, for example, had a garden footbridge with daily art and street performers on it, Butler said.

One idea to come out of river plan discussions was to turn Pukete's pedestrian bridge into a garden bridge.

Geoffrey Cupit said the city could build an inexpensive swingbridge across the river from Day's Park to St Andrews.

Waikato Times