Residents and supporters of Victory gathered at the square on Saturday to share their thoughts about their community. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Village green the ‘heart of Victory’

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When a Southern Link advocate suggested that Victory residents needed to have more vision about what a new highway could do for the community, that community got organised.

“I feel very strongly that [Victory Square] does not belong to one person – the whole community uses this space,” says Victory resident Rebecca Glen.

“It needs to be the whole community voice, so it isn’t just one person offering their opinion.”

So, Rebecca organised a meeting at Victory Square for residents to share what the square meant to them.

They were there because, two weeks ago, local real estate agent Jeremy Matthews shared his thoughts about what needed to happen to the community.

A longtime advocate for the Southern Link, he believed that residents of Victory needed to have more aspiration about what they could get if a highway were to be built through the Railway Reserve and into St Vincent St.

He believed that it could reinvigorate Victory and give it some bargaining power at the government table.

Part of his reasoning was that Victory Square was underutilised, except for a couple of sports games at the weekend.

He thought it could be redeveloped with a highway alongside it.

“It is the village green,” says Rebecca. “It’s the heart of Victory. You look at every other community – Tahunanui has the beach and the waterfront, Maitai has the river and valley and greenspace and walking. The Brook has the mountainbike park. Victory literally has this square and the section of Railway Reserve that is left unkept, but we love it.”

Victory resident Rowan Hodson also had thoughts about Jeremy’s point of view.

“What he is saying is that the only option is the inland route and I think that is disgusting. This is a vibrant community.”

Rowan says the inland route is the only option in a package of NZTA options to solve Nelson’s transport issues that proposes building an entirely new road.

The other options include establishing clearways on Waimea Rd and Rocks Rd or widening Rocks Rd and having it remain as SH6.

“[The inland route] is not the way forward, it’s just going to attract more vehicles … We can collaboratively work together without destroying communities.”

He said building a new highway would only serve to get more cars on the road.

While Andrea Warn did not live in Victory, she still came down to lend her support.

She pointed to the election of Labour candidate Rachel Boyack to Nelson, over Nick Smith – a long-time supporter of the Link.

“I think the people have spoken. There is a changing tide and there is writing on the wall. We know we have to get out of our cars.”

She also liked that Jeremy had given the community a new tagline:

“Victory Square is the sizzle.”

Caroline Vine says that the new face of Nelson was the diversity exhibited in those who lived in Victory.

“The guys wanting to put a road through here are the old face of Nelson.”

Paul Kernot says that the square is heavily utilised by an abundance of sports teams from football, rugby league, karate and cricket.

“If you take this away where is the nearest remotely sized park?”

Rebecca wanted to thank Jeremy – his opinions got her fired up.

So, she started a Facebook group to “strengthen relationships within the community and offer support, advice, information and events happening in this wonderful part of Whakatu, Nelson”.

And she agrees that more could be done with the square.

So, she is in talks to try and make the feeling and atmosphere that comes from the annual Race Unity Day occur more often.

“Why can’t we have that happen all through the summer like the Isel Park market?”