Shovel Ready Project History in Hamilton

How Many Shovels for $2 BILLION Tax Dollars Hamilton?

The council is looking at billions of dollars of make-work projects to boost the economy. This is the right idea, but do they have the right projects? Their track-record does not inspire confidence.

Garden Place seems like a natural name for a green square in the heart of the city, but the name actually has nothing to do with the current park.

It referred to the vegetable gardens planted by local Maoris on top of the hill. The sloping ground had good drainage.

What hill? Isn’t Garden Place flat?

This historic picture shows how Garden Place used to be.

During the Great Depression, the council dug out the hill as a make-work scheme to provide employment. It was literally done by blokes with shovels at the ready. The dirt was used to fill in gullies. The cleared area was used as a car park. This photo is looking towards the old post office, now part of Sky City.  It was never intended to be a green space.

The council has a short memory. In the 1990s, it’s now-defunct property development unit invested in the BNZ building that occupies the gap you can see to the left of the old post office. There were massive cost over-runs on the building because the foundations were on one of the gullies filled with Garden Place dirt.  It was not suitable for building on, which is why the gap was there in the photo.

A couple of decades later, council purchased the land now used for the Victoria On The River park. It wasn’t intended to be a park either, it was for property development to make a profit. But that was also another gully filled with dirt that they forgot about. Any building would have been too expensive, so eventually the land was turned into a park and the investment written off.

Unlike the true “shovel-ready” digging of Garden Place, roads, cycleways, pipelines and subdivisions are largely done with big, expensive machines driven by one low-wage worker. The machine owners will take the lion’s share of the spending, while only a handful of jobs are created. Council seems to have forgotten the point.

Perhaps with better public consultation, citizens of Hamilton could have come up with more practical solutions. It is called Democracy – yet another thing that Council forgets. 


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