A city for everyone

By: Dan Hutchinson

Daniel Hutchinson
From The Hutch

Christmas presents can be placed into three main categories – heartfelt, practical and minimal.

Heartfelt gifts are obviously the most time consuming, requiring hours of browsing and a good knowledge of the recipient’s personal belongings.

At the other end of the scale is the minimal gift, which starts at the Nothing At All category, stepping up to a scratchie stuffed in a Christmas card and culminating in the ‘what do you want for Christmas?’ question.

Finally, there is the practical category – things that you would have to buy anyway but you call them presents.

Parents are notorious for this, and I’m no exception. Every year, gifts would include body soaps, socks and t-shirts, beach towels and sunblock, alongside more thoughtful items, like cash.

This year, it looks like the commissioners at Tauranga City Council are going down this route as well. We are getting a new civic precinct in the CBD. Under the tree is a museum, library, hotel, performing arts and conference centre and a civic whare, whatever that is.

Some assembly is required and we will have to pay for this gift ourselves, which takes some of the gloss off it. Hopefully it’s not like the parking building that we got a couple of years ago, which turned out to be faulty and then couldn’t be returned.


Best CBD ideas

It doesn’t get any more heartfelt than a new heart for the CBD, so I got thinking about what would be the ultimate downtown area.

It’s not actually the first time I’ve received a CBD for Christmas. The first one was just a plastic mat with streets and key buildings like fire, police and ambulance stations.

The idea was to just hoon around the two dimensional diarama with your favourite Matchbox car without any regard for the emergency services.

I was easily amused as a child, so it stands to reason that is still the case. Surely, all I really need is a road to drive around on.


Driving them crazy

It seems that good transport is probably number one on the list of things that people in cities want.

Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, consistently makes the list of worst cities to live in because its residents spend an average of 400 hours a year sitting in traffic.

São Paulo in Brazil – home to 12 million people – has the same problem. It’s so bad that wealthy people opt to take a helicopter instead. The city has more helicopters per capita than anywhere else in the world. In the end they built an elevated, four-lane highway right through the lively heart of the city and named it after a giant earthworm. 

Even Boston, which is home to some pretty gorgeous suburbs, is a massive pain in the proverbial to get around. Its first streets roughly followed cattle paths and have since become a bit of a maze.


Cities need people

Good roads aren’t everything though. For example, Myanmar built a brand new city to be its capital. Naypyidaw has modern and massive infrastructure, including 20-lane highways.

The problem is, it was built in the middle of nowhere so people haven’t exactly been flocking there. At rush hour, government workers have all 20 lanes to themselves pretty much. This city is six times the size of New York, but has a population of fewer than one million.


Too much debauchery

Cities that are hailed as progressive, modern and cool don’t get bogged down in traffic issues.

Take Amsterdam, which has always been a bit ahead of its time but the big hand is coming around again when it comes to prostitution.

It is legal in the big Dutch city, but only indoors – no street soliciting. This has resulted in the sort of window dressing that wouldn’t get past most town centre committees. The mayor is concerned that the raunchy window displays are attracting “gawpers”.

She is proposing to close the brothel windows of the red light district and, instead, set them up in an “erotic centre”.

Tauranga’s proposed new civic centre doesn’t have anything like that in it, but it does include a museum, which is pretty exciting. It does help to know where you have been, to figure out where to go next, otherwise we’ll end up like the dinosaurs.

People gawping at empty windows is a good way to go extinct.