SIT support for city important - Southland Express Column

Originally published as a column in The Southland Express

As Invercargill’s inner-city upgrade progresses, attention is now being focussed on the associated streetscape work.

The Invercargill City Council is considering extending this work along Esk Street to the Southern Institute of Technology’s Centre of Creative Industries, which opens this month.

This is an innovative option which would channel students back into the centre of town.

However, it will also cost an additional $1.9 million, most of which will come out of Invercargill ratepayers pockets.

I would suggest that at least some of this expense should in fact be covered by SIT.

There is precedent for this, with the Tay Street pedestrian crossing and sculpture project jointly funded, by SIT and the ICC, several years ago.

I would like to see SIT use this opportunity to continue to be a good corporate citizen and contribute to the wider inner-city development for the benefit of its students and the local community.

Further to that, in February last year when the SIT board scrapped its Kelvin Street apartment proposal, it stated publicly that funds earmarked for this project would remain available for future use by SIT in our region.

Supporting this streetscape project would be a good test for the new SIT board, and the new combined polytechnics structure.

It would demonstrate whether SIT funds can actually be used for positive change in the Invercargill community, or whether this local money will be siphoned off to prop up cash-strapped polytechnics in Wellington and Auckland.

I know which option most Southlanders would prefer