Deferring tertiary precinct upgrade called shortsighted

There were three burglaries and one theft in the University of Otago area at the weekend. Photo:...
University of Otago. Photo: Getty Images
Dropping an upgrade of Dunedin’s tertiary precinct from city council budgets until 2030 has been lamented as shortsighted and disappointing.

The Dunedin City Council allocated $20million in its 2018-28 10-year plan to make it easier and more attractive for tertiary education staff and students to travel around the area by bike, bus and foot, but the 2021-31 draft plan has nothing until $1million for preparation work in 2030.

The University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic and Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) have condemned the proposed deferral.

OUSA, in a written submission to the council prepared by political representative Mhairi Mackenzie Everitt before next week’s 10-year plan hearings, said the move to defer that work was shortsighted.

Deferring the project without consulting the association and university undermined trust in the city council, Ms Mackenzie Everitt said.

City council transport group manager Jeanine Benson had said it made sense to delay the work until after a central city upgrade had been completed, student magazine Critic — Te Arohi reported.

OUSA rejected that suggestion.

"We oppose the notion that it makes sense for this project to be deferred until after the central city upgrade work is done, and as such, we call for the Dunedin City Council to immediately reincorporate this project into the 10-year plan."

In a written submission for the university, chief operating officer Stephen Willis said deferring funding was disappointing.

"A dynamic, vibrant and safe tertiary precinct provides opportunities not only to the university itself, but to the wider city," Mr Willis said.

Union St East, Clyde St, Harbour Tce and Albany St had been identified as the priority streets for improvements.

Otago Polytechnic chief executive Dr Megan Gibbons pointed out the university and polytechnic contributed more than $1billion to the Dunedin economy and this was growing.

The council should start the tertiary precinct upgrade sooner than 2030, Dr Gibbons said.

It would enhance the attractiveness of Dunedin and expand on the city’s status as a tertiary education destination, she said.


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