Waikato River ideas flow freely

GRAND VISION: The city’s 30-year plan would put the Waikato River at the heart of the city.
GRAND VISION: The city’s 30-year plan would put the Waikato River at the heart of the city.

Hamilton people believe a plan which puts the Waikato River at the heart of their city will produce the commercial and recreational benefits needed to move the town forward.

People were given the chance to have their say on Hamilton City Council's "Our Remarkable River" plan when it was presented at the Meteor Theatre on Saturday.

The plan aims to make use of Hamilton's greatest asset, the Waikato River, through developments including a natural pedestrian bridge, a sports centre and a river sourced swimming pool at Wellington Beach.

Many citizens told the Waikato Times the developments can't come soon enough as the plans present an opportunity to attract business to the city and offer residents a chance to use the river for recreation.

Hamilton resident Kirsty Gendall said she wanted Hamilton to make the most of commercial benefits the river plans present.

"I would like to see some commercial based development as well because if it is all just for recreation then that doesn't bring the money necessarily, but if you have cafes and bookshops and markets then people come for that and still enjoy the environment," Gendall said.

One of the ideas by a member of the public was to relocate the proposed Wellington St river-sourced pool to the city side of the river to help make better use of the municipal pool on Victoria St.

People said they looked to other cities such as Brisbane and Auckland as a guide for ways to best use the resource.

Inner-city resident Mike Walen said any kind of improvement that opened up the river to be used more was positive.

"I like the idea of the planted pedestrian bridge because I think it could be quite an eye-opening attraction Hamilton could really use."

Engineer Bill Handcock cautioned there was more work needed around the safety of the ideas the council had proposed.

"They haven't talked to the people who really know the river.

"It is more dangerous than they think," Handcock said.

Mayor Julie Hardaker said overall feedback from the public had been positive and they wanted action soon.

"What's been really valuable for me and the working group is that this has confirmed the direction of travel is right. People do want to see part of the river changed and some of the ideas that we are floating people are saying are fantastic." Audrey Ellis is a Wintec journalism student.

Waikato Times