Car-free Harbour St goes well

The majority of Harbour St businesses reported a positive or neutral impact from the weekend...
The majority of Harbour St businesses reported a positive or neutral impact from the weekend pedestrianisation trial in Oamaru's historic precinct, the Waitai District council says. Photo: Hamish MacLean
More than three-quarters of area businesses have reported either a positive, or at least neutral, impact on their bottom line after a second trial period of car-free weekends on Oamaru's historic Harbour St wrapped up at Easter.

Waitaki District Council assets group manager Neil Jorgensen will recommend on Tuesday that the council's assets committee approve another Labour Weekend-to-Easter weekend closure "in principle" for the coming tourist season, and that the committee direct council staff to survey businesses about preferred closure times.

Mr Jorgensen said because an "economic impact" survey conducted in July of area businesses for the last trial showed the economic benefit for businesses on the street on Fridays was "a lot less clear-cut", he was recommending only a Saturday and Sunday closure for the coming tourist season.

"We know that there is quite strong support from the community to close Harbour St for periods of time - and from visitors - we get that feedback quite a lot," Mr Jorgensen said. "[But] It does appear that the Friday did have more of an economic impact than other days."

Mr Jorgensen said if pedestrianisation of the street was given the go-ahead, council officers would again survey businesses to determine whether the 10am to 4pm closure was preferred or whether a different scenario, for example, a 4pm Friday to early Monday morning closure, would be desired, "which of course would be more cost-effective to manage, but may not suit the businesses".

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