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Cabinet is expected to decide on the city's bid for a major allocation from the fund - understood to be $50million or more - later this month.
The funding, if approved, would pay for improvements to sea walls, earthworks and other work needed to ready Dunedin's waterfront for development.
In the meantime, the council was pressing on with early planning work needed to progress new public spaces, and access to them, on the waterfront.
Council community and planning group manager Nicola Pinfold said that "master planning" was focused for now on how the community could best be involved in helping shape the development of such spaces.
The council had already received plenty of public feedback and suggestions on what should feature on the waterfront, she said.
However, public consultation on plans for the area was still considered "critical" for the project, and was expected to be under way by mid-this-year.
She hoped that would involve a more "active, collaborative process" approach, like the public workshops used early in the development of the central city upgrade plan, to contribute ideas, she said.
"That's an exercise we will be doing with the community ... making sure the public spaces have full access and meet all the desires of the community - making them real people spaces.
"That's kind of one of the principles of regeneration, making a place accessible and then there being something to do when you're down there."
The waterfront project has already received $820,000 from the $3billion Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to pay for a feasibility study and business case.
A memorandum of understanding, committing to support the project, has also been signed by the DCC, University of Otago, Port Otago and Ngai Tahu, as well as Damien van Brandenburg and businessman Ian Taylor, who first floated the concept.
The council has also committed to building a $20million, architecturally-designed pedestrian and cyclist bridge to the waterfront, beginning later this year, and the idea of a smaller "metro-style" playground, in the vein of Christchurch's Margaret Mahy Playground, has been suggested as an early attraction.
Ms Pinfold did not want to be drawn on the merits of the playground concept for now, except to say it was an example of ideas from public input.
Open-air events, or Port Otago's removal of old sheds on the northern side of Steamer Basin, to make room for public fishing access, were other examples of attractions that could bring people into the area quickly, she said.
The council also planned to work with Ngai Tahu, as a key stakeholder, to ensure any development reflected the cultural significance of the area and its importance to iwi, she said.
The transformation had already begun, with Port Otago's work on new public fishing access, and progress would continue, she said.
"We've made a commitment to the waterfront. We're hoping, from now, we can start making it more of a people place."