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Beyond the structured workshops, I took the time to meet with the Senior Community Development Advisor and council planners, as well as members of the WHARE group. These informal meetings provided an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the values, aspirations, and challenges faced by both the community and the council.
The result of these efforts was incredibly positive. Bringing together diverse stakeholders and professionals allowed for discussions that may not have otherwise taken place. Participants left the workshops feeling empowered with newfound clarity, direction, and open to exploring innovative possibilities.
It is refreshing to witness a council taking proactive steps to address the housing crisis and involve the community in meaningful decision-making. The Whakatāne District Council's approach can serve as an inspiration for other local governments struggling to find ways to meet and respond to the housing needs of their residents, particularly those that are housing themselves unconventionally.
So, if you find yourself disheartened by your local council's lack of action, take inspiration from the Whakatāne example. Speak up, mobilize your community, seek to collaborate with your local council on solutions that prioritize the well-being of people over bureaucratic red tape. Together, we can build a future where everyone has a place they can call home.