Community vision forging ahead for innovative city streets

Imagine a city where cycling is as common place as driving, where footpaths and cycle lanes are safe and accessible, and where city streets are vibrant, inviting, and useable. 

That is the vision of the Invercargill community, a vision that Healthy Families Invercargill is working with the Invercargill City Council and other stakeholders to bring to life. 

It was during the first Covid-19 lockdown last year that Healthy Families Invercargill Lead Systems Innovator Stella O’Connor invited representatives from the Invercargill City Council to a Zoom meeting to discuss the opportunities around applying for Innovating Streets funding through Waka Kotahi. 

Two applications were developed from these discussions. The round one application was unsuccessful but set a precedent showing the value and effectiveness of the collaborative approach and sparked further conversations. The second application was successful. 

“Applying for this funding was about activating leadership to promote and increase active transport opportunities in Invercargill. I didn’t want Invercargill to miss out,” O’Connor said. 

The successful second round projects will complement and inform the Invercargill City Centre Masterplan, which is in the process of being developed. 

The aim of this plan is to create a vibrant, accessible, and useable city centre. Healthy Families Invercargill is playing a key role in the development of this plan, not only through the work being done on the Innovating Streets projects, but also through direct involvement in the creation of the masterplan. 

“It’s all part of working together to ensure our city is somewhere people want to live, learn, work, and play. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to get around our city, we want to make it easy for them to play together, we want to make it easy for them to enjoy their city in as many ways as possible, so that they keep coming back,” Healthy Families Invercargill manager Jared Cappie said. 

A large part of that work is the Innovating Streets projects. Three issues have been identified, and the community are now being asked for solutions to these – for their voice on how they want their city to look, how they want to get around their city, and how issues such as shelter, connections between streets, and vibrancy can be addressed. 

An Innovating Streets consultant (former Healthy Families Invercargill play systems innovator Cathy Jordan) has been hired to work through the process and ensure the community voice is heard. 

“We are working alongside the community to reimagine our public spaces to create better connections in our city,” Cathy said. 

A significant part of that process is community involvement. The community is being given opportunities to co-design solutions to identified problems, with the Waka Kotahi funding then being used to test those solutions through tactical urbanism – low cost, temporary changes to built environments to improve places and spaces so that they better meet the needs of the community.  

“By activating the opportunity to access these active transport funds, it creates a platform to collaborate as a working group and demonstrate the Healthy Families NZ approaches and principles around community led solutions, collaboration, equity, and leadership. It’s also an opportunity to change mindsets within our community about the way we see and use our city,” O’Connor said. 

Article added: Tuesday 27 April 2021


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