New centre? Not yet - Who is paying? Event Centre (Pat Slater)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††Ė Northern Advocate - 16 May 2008



Who is Paying?


Articles and letters of late have covered various projects that Whangarei District Council are considering as well as a survey, undertaken by an interested councillor, on which projects the people of Whangarei prefer.The athletics complex at Kensington Park was the forerunner (I believe facilities there get plenty of use).The news this week that certain facilities at Kensington will now be lost to Okara Park has hopefully concerned enough people to ask some questions as to why.There could be a valid reason that benefits both venues.There must be a reason, what is it?A multi events centre in Okara was a close runner-up in the survey.Interesting stuff which I hope is polled again once the real cost to ratepayers is known.

Personally I have no problem of an events centre being built.I do hope though everyone in Whangarei who will be financially burdened gets to vote on it.On voting they should know the total cost to themselves, even if they do not use the centre. Perhaps it would be better for the organizations that will profit from the events held there, pay for it.

Why?Well, in the best interest of many ratepayers, there are those boring old essential services that need fixing.There is no need to go on too much about these as they have been well covered before but many not yet fixed.Letís get these done, have a good foundation to build on and then progress with developments to attract tourists.Letís have this be a better place, than it already is, to live in as well as visit.My second reason is that both my husband and I have been to several shows at Forum North, the most recent was "Beatlemania".A great show but I came away thinking that with only a quarter of the hall filled we do not yet need a multi events centre.Unfortunately all shows we have attended have not been packed houses.Maybe parts of the facility could be improved, in minor ways, but generally itís a lovely place for these events.In fact I doubt if the facility is the problem.To get people to these events requires better promotion of Forum North as a recent article which compares it to other local districts amenities suggested.All that aside one must be interested in the artist or theme of the event to want to attend and one must also be able to afford it.Even if you can afford it, are you available for it?There are many reasons why our small population can not attend these events.

I do not want to spend my money, as a ratepayer, on an events centre until I see the facilities including rugby stadiums, already available, being used to the maximum.Major rugby organizations are running at a loss, so what does that tell us?First, prove to me that you can make a profit from the facility you intend to build with my money and then promise to pay me back my proportion from your profits.After all on other occasions we get told Ďitís a user pays societyí.

At the present time many in our district have to put their hands in their pockets to pay for upgrades in their area.Whangarei Headís residents for their new sewage scheme for instance.Many of those residents are on a tight, fixed, income.Although development is a great thing the developments within the Bream Bay area are of concern to many because of the probable costs?They are not the only areas affected!And with the overall economic climate as it is there are many suffering increased costs with little, if any, increase in income.

There are those that quote they are concerned for our population, hopefully, this sentiment is sincere. Yes, lots of us probably want the events centre but do we actually need it and have we truly considered others and whether they can afford it.If you know many others can not afford it at this stage, do you really care?Businesses, organizations and councils I challenge you to put money forward for the centre without asking ratepayers for more.I challenge you to make a profit from the centre and I will be more than happy to be one of the users that pay.


Pat Slater-Maunu