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Mary St has been closed to vehicles since the Create the Vibe space opened in March, 2021. Photo: GORDON PREECE

Create the Vibe survey ‘too hard to find’

Concerns have been raised over the handling of a survey that will help decide the future of the Create the Vibe on Mary St.
The pedestrian space was set up by Thames-Coromandel District Council and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency in March, 2021, to create a space for people to gather, and since its opening, Mary St has been closed to vehicles near the Pollen St intersection.
The project, which initially cost around $355,000 and was named Best Street at the 2022 Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards, was initially established as a 12-month trial. However, this was extended for another year to enable the council to grasp how the space operated over a full summer period without Covid-19 restrictions.

The council launched an online survey on June 12 for the Thames Community Board to seek feedback to ultimately determine its next steps. Council said it also planned to visit the Create the Vibe space to interview users before the survey closed on June 25.
However, Thames resident Sheryl McConnell, who presented a 640-signature petition to the board last year calling for Mary St to reopen to traffic, told The Profile she believed the recent survey was “underhanded”.
“My view is that it’s far too hard for Thames people to find… it’s attached to an email from TCDC where I get weekly updates about what’s happening, and you scroll all the way down and it’s quite buried,” she said.
“In the Local Government Act [2002], it says persons who wish to have their views on the decision or matter considered by the local authority should be provided by that local authority with a reasonable opportunity to present the views.
“If [the community board] are making a decision and it’s influenced by the survey, then it sounds like consultation with people who want to have their views considered, might not find an online survey appropriate to their preferences and needs.”
Sheryl also believed the council had also not given an appropriate timeframe for residents to complete the survey.
“I just don’t know how in the very short time that we’ve got to do this, people are going to be able to get it done,” she said.

“In the Local Government Act [2002]… it’s got to be in a fairly clear and reasonable timeframe.”
Sheryl believed the survey should be open for one month instead of 14 days.
A Thames retailer on Pollen St, who wished to remain anonymous, said she also thought the timeframe for the survey was too short and was concerned it hadn’t been advertised adequately.
She opposed the Create the Vibe space, she said.
“I liken [The Vibe] to what’s happened now at the Kōpū-Hikuai where the natural flow of the traffic has been diverted, and that has affected us,” she said.
“[The Vibe] has done the same thing, it has divided Pollen St and Grahamstown and that’s why I think it needs to go.”
Council infrastructure project delivery manager Andrew Boden said he believed two weeks was an “appropriate” timeframe for the survey.
“For the last 12 months, our website has kept the community informed that community engagement would be undertaken around this time,” he said.
“Two weeks is appropriate given that we have been clear on the timeline since the trial was extended in June, 2022.”
Mr Boden said council had advertised the survey “widely”, including in its weekly newsletter, on social media, and as part of an advertisement in The Valley Profile on June 21 for those who were not online.
He said council also planned to have researchers at the space on June 15, June 16 and June 24 to engage with pedestrians, and the Thames Library was open for residents to complete the survey online with assistance from library staff. “Our elected members are also promoting the survey, including when they interact with the public at the Thames weekly market,” he said. “The survey link was emailed on [June 9] to community groups identified by the Community Board including emergency services, Police, St John, Thames Business Association and community groups that have previously booked the container or the Vibe space.”
DETAILS: Create the Vibe survey will be available online at: until June 25.