The decisions we make now will shape our city for the decades to come, so it’s crucial to have your say on where we’re heading, writes Nelson City Councillor Rohan O’Neill-Stevens.

I’ve always loved cities, both big and small. At their best they represent the inter-connected, collective aspirations and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people, each taking individual paths but contributing to the vibrancy and activity of an entire community. Cities are dynamic and constantly redefining themselves, as the needs and desires of their residents shift and change. 

At their worst, cities can lock us in to ways of life that reduce our freedom and safety, while harming the natural environment and residents in turn. Whakatū Nelson hasn’t reached this fate, but it hasn’t unlocked its full potential – this is something that, together, we can change.

In August, Council released two incredibly important projects for feedback. One is Te Ara ō Whakatū, a 30-year vision for the future of our city. It lays out a path to a city with busier, greener streets, successful businesses, great places, and strong precincts. It looks to provide more places for people, more people living in our city centre, and stronger representation of mana whenua and our cultural and creative communities.

It's a bold plan that would see our city taking big steps over the coming years to better serve and reflect the diversity of our people, providing a city centre that’s safer and more fun for everyone, and strengthening local businesses.

The other is the proposal to sell council-owned land to Kāinga Ora, the government’s housing agency, to develop approximately 175 social and affordable homes. This would be a leap forward for intensification and ease pressure on our rapidly inflating housing market.

There are fantastic ideas in both proposals, but their success is not just about changing our urban landscape, it’s about building a community-owned vision. As Jane Jacobs, the relentless urbanist who championed placing communities at the heart of planning, put it:
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

We need your ideas, aspirations and hopes for the Whakatū Nelson of 2050. Your dreams for the city your kids and grandkids will inherit.
The future of our city centre matters deeply to me, and I’m sure it matters to you, so make sure you have your say before 24 September.

To feedback on Te Ara ō Whakatū visit:

To feedback on the Kāinga Ora proposal visit: