Those resistant to change are losing, and the free market economy is winning. The Bay of Plenty seems to be groaning under the weight, and the tension is visible; speeding drivers, traffic jams and accidents, trucks and machines everywhere, committees to talk about smart growth. We’re growing rapidly and people want to join us. Those of us already here know why; it’s the ‘Bay of Plenty’.
As a property lawyer that grew up in provincial New Zealand where change was slow and new arrivals to town were few and made little impact, the growth spurt we are now experiencing feels uncomfortable. Bay of Plenty cannot be sustained by people buying houses alone. Houses are like food; a necessity. Aside from the construction sector, houses themselves (once built) do not create jobs or provide future well-being for our children and grandchildren. One can only hope that the rest of what is needed to sustain future generations comes with it. I think it will.
The Waikato University campus to be built on Durham Street, the Adams Centre for High-Performance Sport at Mount Maunganui, Trustpower’s headquarters and our innovative and adaptable horticultural industry, not to mention the prospective businesses that Priority One are courting, are all examples which bode well for the future of our region.
Funds like the Regional Council’s Infrastructure Development Fund could fall short of what is needed to cope with growth and don’t necessarily contribute to critical infrastructure that are the City and District Council’s responsibilities. What does seem to be falling short (to the point where it seems to be ignored) is the infrastructure serving our new subdivisions. Roads like the only access in and out of Omokoroa were designed and built to cope with 1960’s New Zealand, and are fast becoming dangerous. Tauranga City Council’s water supply seems unable to meet demand after 3 or 4 weeks without rain.
We need to ensure that the growth we are experiencing produces a positive future outcome. Let’s ensure that our building boom brings people with ideas for new business, people willing to work and contribute to community, and people willing to take a risk with their money by investing in businesses that employ, not just house, people.