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Those were the opening remarks from Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull at the start of the council's three-day long meeting on the city's draft 10-year plan, yesterday.
The draft plan sets out $854 million of spending during the next 10 years adding tens of millions of dollars the city's debt but also outlines a programme of investment aimed at bringing significant benefits to the city.
Dunedin was ``humming'' and in better shape than at any time in the past five years, so now was the time to depart from the previous pattern of austerity and debt reduction, Mr Cull told councillors.
While the council needed to be careful and considerate with spending, it needed to be balanced with investment and the enhancement of the city.
``If we only ever focused on cost, we wouldn't do anything and we would have nothing.''
Dunedin needed to compete with other centres for both people and business and now was the time to think beyond just providing services and move towards adding richness to the city.
``I don't think we should be frightened by numbers,'' he said.
All the other councillors, apart from one, had a similar view to the mayor.
Cr Lee Vandervis said the council was elected on the understanding large rate rises were a thing of the past but what was proposed more than doubled them in the first year.
``We are now saying it's time to depart from a pattern of austerity, but to me this is a teetering tower of debt.''
The new Mosgiel pool, the harbourside connection and the millions being spent on the city's water infrastructure needed to be the priorities for the council, not a $60million refurbishment of the city centre, Cr Vandervis said.
Cr Jim O'Malley said if Dunedin wanted to be a great city, the council could not spend money only on infrastructure.
Cr Christine Garey said the best thing the council could do was go to the community with the full plan and give them the opportunity to respond.
Provided the community saw something for its money it would be a very exciting time for the city, she said.
Cr Andrew Whiley said if the council did not show some leadership and invest in the city then other organisations like the University of Otago and central government would question their investments.
Cr Marie Laufiso said she was in favour of rates increases if it meant more social spending but the city also needed to look outside of the box, possibly at some sort of cannabis or hemp industry.
Cr Rachel Elder said judging by the response to the Steamer Basin proposal, people were ready for a bold city vision.
Cr Mike Lord said he agreed with Cr Vandervis on some points but he would rather spend more now than do things on the cheap and regret it later.
Cr Chris Staynes said the city was in a very positive position both economically and socially so it was time to look to the future.
Cr Damian Newell said the council needed to invest in the future so his children and grandchildren wanted to stay and live in the city.
Cr Kate Wilson said the plan gave the community the opportunity to let the council know what their vision for the future of the city was.
Cr David Benson-Pope said there was an enormous expectation from the community about the first round of discussions on the plan.
Chief executive Sue Bidrose said this year's plan contained ``a whole lot of business as usual'' with some added projects.
Councillors had to decide whether they wanted those projects to remain on the radar, Dr Bidrose said.
Throughout the meeting Cr Vandervis was a lone voice, voting against various items in the plan.