Auckland’s International Convention Centre should be on the waterfront. The Wynyard Quarter provides the obvious location for a piece of stunning architecture that will embed international visitors into the city and its harbour in the best possible way. With the viaduct basin nearby, ferry links to Devonport and the gulf islands beyond, this is the place which will showcase our city, help our waterfront flourish, and make us proud New Zealanders.
Unfortunately that is not what we are getting. Instead our visitors will be locked away alongside the grubby floors of the casino, in a building traffic-locked by wind-tunnel four lane streets with an outlook onto a concrete jungle. Why ? Because we can get it for “free”.
If the business case for the Convention Centre is as good as we are told in terms of ongoing jobs and economic contribution, then why can’t we make a straightforward honest investment to attain these benefits. Why stitch up some cheap deal that will only serve to devalue the opportunity we have to impress our visitors and grow a sense of place and pride in our city.
A few years ago we missed out on the opportunity for a waterfront stadium due to the parochialism and lack of vision among our local body leaders. Now we will miss out on the opportunity to have a world class convention centre on our sparkling waterfront, due to the lack of vision of our central govt leaders. Surely we can do better.
And of course there is no free lunch. The Sky City shareholders want their return. With the extra 230 pokie machines allowed as part of the deal they will get it. The Old Testament prophets used to speak about “grinding the face of the poor”. But that is another story….