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A positive way forward for the Waitemata Safe Routes projects

This is quite a long read but it responds to a lot of issues currently under review concerning two cycling projects in the Waitematā Local Board area that form part of a package of projects known as Waitemata Safe Routes.  I will keep this post updated as the projects progress.

Since my update below – tabled as part of my monthly Chair’s report – the local board has met with Greg Edmonds, Chief Infrastructure Officer at Auckland Transport, members of his project team, Kathryn King the head of Walking & Cycling and communications and engagement advisers.

At the meeting on 13 December discussed what is currently on hold pending safety and design reviews  and what work is continuing to make the routes safe.  This information has been advised to residents along the routes, the Occupy Garnet Road protest group and is now on the AT website.    We also discussed safety improvements that AT would look to get in place ahead of the school term starting next year such as the crossing points on Surrey Crescent.  As advised by AT there will be further consultation on aspects of the design (including a re-design of the West Lynn shops that will go through a community reference group first).  The exact consultation process is to be discussed further with the board.

Greg outlined a proposed AT process going forward for all cycling projects. The board supported a new process framework being put in place. The AT Executive team will want to know that there is agreement from key stakeholders including the Local Board and the Auckland Design Office overseen by a Project Control Group. If there isn’t agreement the PCG will escalate the project to Greg Edmonds.

At the meeting we didn’t discuss with AT other specific projects but Greg has since confirmed that there are no plans to put a stop or halt to any other cycleway projects and that these are progressing within previously advised timeframes subject to all stakeholders being across these projects (part of this involves AT reviewing feedback the board has previously given to AT)

The following update was attached to my Chair’s monthly report tabled at the Waitemata Local Board business meeting on 12 December 2017.  (anything in [         ] has been added online since I gave the update at the board meeting)

Waitemata Safe Routes project update:  The “fiasco” of West Lynn

The attached updates (letters to residents that are now on the AT website)  have been sent to Grey Lynn residents by Auckland Transport outlining what work is being completed and what work that has been halted pending a review of two Waitemata Safe Route projects.

The Waitematā Local Board has met with Auckland Transport [the project team] and is actively working on the solutions and an agreed process for further consultation of any proposals that come out of the review.

At the same time I’ve been reflecting on what led to what Simon Wilson from the Spinoff called a “fiasco” and what should have been done differently.    This is both personal and political. I live, hang out and shop in Grey Lynn.  West Lynn is “my” village.  I want the best for the whole of Waitematā, so our different communities feel proud of changes that make it safer and more pleasant to get around.  I also appreciate the importance of bringing people along with the process and listening to a range of views.  As I’ve heard the former Mayor of Copenhagen say “A good city means dialogue and controversy – getting people engaged in their environment and its transformations can only be a good sign of things to come”.

There are two routes currently the subject of intense debate.  Although there are common issues, the projects are distinct, with different issues and responses.  Both routes were consulted on at the same time as part of a package of four routes known as the Waitemata Safe Routes including Great North Road and the Grey Lynn Greenway (now delivered but not without its own controversary on the Grosvenor Street section)

The timing of the consultation on the four routes coinciding with the Local Government election in September 2016 was incredibly ill advised . It was against the wishes of the local board, Councillor Lee and Local board services staff.   Simon Wilson calls it “preposterous” that we didn’t campaign to make it an election issue.  But that’s the whole point – transport consultations shouldn’t become election issues because of the timing of the consultation. We want to hear the feedback from the public first, understand the issues and possible solutions and then provide local board input. This is what is happening right now with the Grey Lynn & Arch Hill Residential Parking Zone consultation.

Richmond Road including the West Lynn shops  (Route 2)

My involvement in this project goes back to a meeting hosted by Grey Lynn 2030 in 2009 with David Engwicht, known as the inventor of the walking school bus.  (the outcome of that meeting detailed here ) 

A traffic calming group was established to push for the adoption of his “Mental speed bumps” theories of reclaiming the street to slow down vehicles.  In 2010 the group presented to the Western Bays Community Board a survey of local traffic concerns including speed and pedestrian safety detailed here

By the time I was elected in October 2010 and working on the transport portfolio (a position I still hold) it became clear there was range of issues along the entire length of Richmond Road.  For example, the Peel Street and Warnock Street intersections were the subject of regular complaints.  Richmond Road school was battling for a signalized pedestrian crossing.  The intersection of Surrey Crescent and Richmond was “upgraded” by AT in early 2011 but fell short of the board’s request for a design that provided a safe crossing for kids walking to school.

We brought together all the issues in a Richmond Road Safety Action Plan in 2012  (consulted on as part of our Local Board Agreement in 2012 and 2013). The plan requested AT to target the shopping areas and school zones concentrating on pedestrian and cycle safety and traffic calming together with good urban design to provide enhanced overall attractiveness and amenity. (I wrote about this project in an update in Ponsonby News about Richmond Road)

Designs for a cycleway on Richmond Road were first drawn up in 2012/2013 but went on hold until funding became available through the government’s Urban Cycleways Investment Fund.

Issues raised through the basic consultation process (now under review) undertaken by AT last year were relatively minor. The main concern that I took up was the location of the bus stop outside Nature Bay which didn’t seem to be logical.

From the Board’s perspective there was a lot to support about the design –  it could be done with minimal parking loss and included a range of safety improvements with extras like more planting and street furniture.  If anything, the design was criticized for not going far enough to slow the traffic and make cycling safe along the entire length.   Bike Auckland’s feedback asked AT to set up a community reference group to go through the details of the design but this was ignored by AT.

With the benefit of hindsight it perhaps seems obvious that the project should have been approached as a design-led street upgrade (as is happening for the K’rd streetscape upgrade) but there are a range of factors as to why this didn’t happen:

  • The improvements came about as a result of cycle project with additional budget for safety and bus stop changes. If the local board had pushed for a town centre upgrade 2 -3 years ago when the plans were first discussed the whole project would have come to a standstill as there were no funds.
  • The opportunity for the local board to discuss adding to the budget to improve the materiality (such as concrete paths rather than what turned out to be ugly asphalt) was missed because AT didn’t bring the final plans back to the board
  • The feedback we heard didn’t raise issues with the design overall – most agreed it was an improvement. A community reference group or more thorough engagement process would have drilled down on the design far more effectively
  • The silo approach at AT blocks teams working holistically and bringing in an urban designer (this has only happened on projects under immense pressure – for West Lynn there was nothing that signaled a different approach was required)

However the original uproar in West Lynn (from the businesses in particular) was not so much about the design but arose originally from a number of other issues:

  • An engagement process that didn’t bring the design back to the community to explain how the feedback had been taken into account and what was going to go ahead (frustratingly AT only seems to do this where there is strong opposition at the consultation phase)
  • Failure to respond to genuine issues (like the bus stop location)
  • Poor, and at times inconsistent, communication about what was happening and when
  • Approach to the construction and impact of the construction – the contractor advising businesses that the works were possible during the quiet time in January but then AT issued notices to start the work the next day
  • The work was carried as fast as possible, which aimed to minimize the impact, but led to bad quality finishing
  • Mistakes made with the plans and construction (the sloping foot path outside Dear Reader is clearly a big mistake)

A wider review of the whole Richmond Road route is now underway but for West Lynn shops many of the issues (first identified on a site visit I did with AT three weeks ago  [17 November]) are already in the process of being resolved.  The parking has changed but once marked out there is likely to be just as much parking serving the shops as prior to the construction (it has been incorrectly reported that all the parking has been removed outside Harvest).

The business association has been incredibly pro-active working with Auckland Transport and bringing all the businesses together to a launch a “West Lynn Shops” campaign- “Good bye roadworks.  Hello pathways, cycleways and parking!”

Surrey Crescent to Garnet Road (Route 1)

Like Richmond Road this route has been on the Auckland Cycle network for almost two decades. It also received funding from the Urban Cycleways Fund.

Auckland Transport consulted on two options. One option of a cycleway on the road requiring the removal of 40% of the parking and another option using the berm for the cycleway.    Feedback was very mixed.   The local board opposed both options and asked Auckland Transport to re-consult on a new design using the carriageway.   This was rejected on the basis of cost.

I give some credit to the protest group [Occupy Garnet Road] for stopping the construction of this cycleway and forcing Auckland Transport to review the design of the entire route  [the group were first informed on 23 November that they had achieved their original objective of halting the Surrey Cres/Garnet Road and Richmond Rd projects pending a review but as of 16 December continue their “occupation” with a range of demands including a halt to all Auckland cycleway projects]

The Board passed the following resolution at our November Board meeting [on 21 November] and the next day I joined a meeting with Auckland Transport and the group made up of local residents, Urban Tree Alliance representatives and protestors at the Old Mill Road/Motions Road intersection[Occupy Garnet Road Group].

Resolution

That the Board b) confirms its feedback in November 2016 to Auckland Transport on Route 1: Surrey Crescent to Garnet Road cycleway opposing both options consulted on by Auckland Transport and the board’s request to Auckland Transport to consider a new option using the road space with opportunities for new landscaping and sufficient parking and confirms its request to Auckland Transport to re-consult with the community on a new option

  1. c) Notes Auckland Transport has advised that of the 164 trees along Route 1 18 trees are being removed of which 15 are exotics and 3 native – 3 of the exotics are dead. 6 of the native trees are being transplanted and 36 trees are to be planted with a net gain of 18 trees
  2. d) Requests Auckland Transport halt the removal of trees, transplanting of trees or planting of new trees along Route 1 until the public is informed of the arborist report and provided information about how Auckland Transport is ensuring a best practice approach to tree planting and maintenance
  3. d) Requests Auckland Transport organise a public meeting to provide a project update and an opportunity to address all community concerns with the design of Route 1

 Next steps

As confirmed above Auckland Transport has advised residents as to what work will be completed to be made safe and what is on hold pending a wider review.   Community Reference Groups will be set up for West Lynn and the wider Safer Routes project.  In collaboration with the West Lynn group (led by the GLBA co-chair) work is already underway to address immediate issues in West Lynn.  Boffa Miskell have been appointed to lead the review of the design of the village area. A silver lining from the “fiasco” is that it has brought the community together and will result in far more investment in West Lynn than was originally planned.   AT has offered a procedure for making a loss of business claim for the businesses impacted by the construction.

It is positive that Auckland Transport has committed to a new transparent, cooperative approach involving the local board that we expect to extend to all our projects.  In the longer term we are seeing the start of a shake up at Auckland Transport that has already been signaled with the arrival of a new CEO.    Since the beginning of the super city AT has far too often ignored local board priorities (the legislation requires AT to take account of local board plans – but this often doesn’t happen) and “wins” have required unnecessarily hard-fought battles by the local board and community.

The Board has been incredibly effective at achieving better outcomes than what was originally on offer (such as the Ponsonby Pedestrian Improvements Project, Franklin Road upgrade and the Teed St upgrade) but too often this has been despite AT.   I’m looking forward to a new dynamic and AT acceptance that local boards are responsible for place making. In the meantime, the Waitemata Safe Routes projects shows the board (and me in particular as transport lead) needs to be constantly vigilant and challenge AT processes and projects at every step of the way.

I am also hopeful that following AT’s review of the current Grey Lynn projects we can look forward to greatly improved urban design, the function of placemaking firmly in the control local boards and the continued delivery of good quality, cycleways and safer streets that benefit the whole community.

Related reading

Taking Cycle Design seriously, Greater Auckland

The fiasco in West Lynn: how did Auckland Transport get a shopping village makeover so wrong,  Simon Wilson in The Spinoff

After the West Lynn debacle: a better way to plan Auckland’s suburbs, Simon Wilson in the Spinoff

The extraordinary incompetence of AT, Simon Wilson in the Spinoff

The hard road to a cycle-friendly city, Russell Brown, Public Address

Waitemata Safe Routes projects , AT website

Chair’s monthly report December 2017

Report covering the period 8 November until 12 December 2017.

Local board members present Tim Coffey with a Good Citizens Award

This is my final report for the year and the end of my first year as Chair.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow board members, the Local Board services team and everyone who works to make Waitemata a great place. Our Achievements Report 16/17 really highlights the diversity of the board’s responsibilities and how we can make a difference locally when we respond to and partner with the community.

It has been a challenging but rewarding year. The new way of working introduced this term which focuses on the board’s work programme has limited the role of portfolios and made it more difficult for board members to effectively keep on top of project delivery (this will be reviewed in the new year). Internal restructuring and the changeover to a new maintenance contract in July has resulted in far more complaints to the board. In October the only Auckland Future member of the board resigned forcing a by-election to be held in February 2018.  The year is coming to an end with the cycleway programme in the spotlight and robust discussion about how Auckland Transport delivers on local priorities (this is covered in detail in Attachment 1).

On 14th December we are launching the Waitematā Local Board plan which sets our three-year direction. Consultation in May and June this year guided development of the plan and confirmed strong support for the direction of the Board.  At the December business meeting we are confirming budget priorities for 2018/19. These priorities will be extensively consulted on as part of the 10 year budget consultation starting on 28 February 2018

Achievements Report 1 July 2016 – 30 June 2017

 The Board’s annual report of highlights covering major projects and initiatives, community grants, advocacy and local governance is now available online.

The report overlaps with the last term so provides a good opportunity to acknowledge the work of former board members and Chair, Shale Chambers who originally kicked off the annual record of achievements.

 Waitemata Safe Routes Projects- update

In Attachment 1 I provide an update on two of the inner west walking and cycling projects that have created a great deal of controversy and scrutiny of Auckland Transport’s engagement and delivery practices.  This has provided an opportunity to reflect on the board’s role through the process.

As covered in the update the board is actively working with Auckland Transport on the solutions and agreed process for further consultation.

Teed Street upgrade

 The now complete Teed Street upgrade as featured in Paperboy

 Domain Committee

 There has been a long standing issue in the Domain of drivers parking on the grass.  Currently Auckland Transport does not have enforcement power to prohibit parking on areas of the Domain outside of formed roads.

At the Domain Committee meeting on 30 November we resolved to delegate the authority that Auckland Transport needs to enforce the no parking on the grass signage.

Prior to the Committee meeting members were led on a site visit around the southern area of Auckland museum where construction on a new pathway is about to start (photo right).  We also observed the significant amount of commuter parking in this area.

Currently a parking survey is underway with recommendations planned to come to our February meeting regarding options for effective parking management that will potentially open the way to freeing up far more on road space for visitors to the Domain.  It has long been my goal, now supported by the outcomes in the Domain Masterplan, to greatly improve accessibility, connectively and mobility in our premier park.

Vision Zero and report back from TRAFINZ conference

 The Waitematā Local Board has led the way supporting Vision Zero, the philosophy that has, as its bottom line, the principle that no deaths or serious injuries on the roads are acceptable.

In order to further the implementation of Vision Zero I attended the Trafinz conference in Nelson and have joined the Trafinz Executive Committee. (Trafinz represents local authority views on road safety and traffic management in New Zealand).  My report from the conference is attached (Attachment 2)

Dr Matts Ake Belin was the guest speaker at the Trafinz conference and guest of Auckland Conversations. The timing of his visit coincided the new Minister of Transport and Associate Minister announcing strong support for a new approach to road safety at time of a rising road toll.

Photo: Stand for Zero organised by Brake road safety charity to commemorate World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

Parking consultations

The roll out of residential parking zones in the city fringe suburbs continues with the support of the board.  Auckland Transport’s consultation on Parnell parking improvements has just ended. The Grey Lynn and Arch Hill Residential Parking Zones consultation ends on 20 December.  The Board will consider the public feedback before providing our input in the new year.

Events

The year ended with a huge number of events supported the Local Board including the Grey Lynn Park Festival, Santa Parade, West End Tennis Tournament, and Franklin Road Christmas Lights.  We also successfully held the Parnell Festival of Roses for the 24th year. The Festival has developed as an exemplar for Zero Waste management and accessibility.

It was an honour to open the new exhibition Changing Gear at MOTAT on 8 December. There is a lot to celebrate about cycling in Aotearoa. However very much on my mind in giving my speech was the most recent rider to needlessly lose their life only the night before. (Speech at the opening Attachment 3)

Meetings and workshops: 8 November until 12 December

  • Weekly Chair’s meeting with the Local Board services team every Monday morning
  • Chair’s forum on 13 November
  • Waitematā Local Board workshops on 14, 21, 28 November and 5 December
  • Civic Trust AGM at the Ellen Melville Centre on 12 November
  • Auckland Transport Powhiri to welcome Dr Belin (Swedish Vision Zero expert) on 13 November
  • Vision Zero session for Local Board members on 15 November at Auckland Transport
  • Lower Queen Street Plans – Brief members from CRL on 15 November
  • Meeting with Teed Street retailers and Newmarket Business Association on 16 November
  • Auckland Harbour Bridge lights update with Mayor Phil and Vector representatives on 16 November
  • Meeting with Age Concern Auckland on 16 November
  • Traffic calming workshop for board members organised by the Albert-Eden Local Board on 16 November
  • Grey Lynn Business Association meeting with new committee on 16 November
  • Herne Bay Residents Association AGM on 16 November
  • Meeting with the Chair of the Wynyard Quarter Transport Association on 17 November
  • West Lynn shops site visit with Auckland Transport on 17 November (Attachment 1 details the issues that were identified at the site visit that are now being followed up by AT)
  • Local Board input into Regional / sub-regional decision making – CENTRAL on 20 November
  • Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 21 November
  • Catch up with General Manager, K’rd Business Association on 22 November
  • Domain Committee pre-agenda meeting on 22 November
  • Attended a site visit with Auckland Transport and the Occupy Garnet Road group on 22 November including a walk of the route to the West Lynn shops
  • Joint Governing Body / Local Board Chairs Meeting on 22 November
  • Attended the Governing Body meeting on 23 November to support Deputy Chair Shale Chambers and board member Richard Northey’s presentation regarding the location of the America’s Cup Village
  • Myers Park / Waihorotiu public artwork (Mayoral Drive underpass) – review of developed concept at the officers of Warren & Mahoney on 23 November
  • Update on 2018 Auckland Arts Festival programme with the Festival Artistic Director and Chief Executive
  • Site visit to the rehearsal space at 313 Queen Street on 24 November (prior to the beginning of renewal work and confirmation of a community lease tenancy of the space)
  • Meeting with the co-chairs Grey Lynn Business Association on 24 November
  • Grey Lynn Business Association hosted meeting regarding the issues at West Lynn shops at the Grey Lynn RSC on 28 November
  • Tour of the refurbishments at the Central Library on 29 November
  • Meeting with the board’s communications adviser on 29 November
  • Meeting to discuss LTP (10-year budget) consultation material
  • Domain Committee site visit and business meeting at Auckland Museum on 30 November
  • Grey Lynn Residents Association AGM on 30 November
  • Meeting with Soala Wilson from the Occupy Garnet Road Group on 1 December
  • Leadership for Local Board Leaders – session one on 4 December
  • Ponsonby Community Centre AGM on 4 December
  • Auckland Paths Project Refresh – Workshop 1 on 6 December
  • LGNZ Governance and Strategy Advisory Group meeting in Wellington on 7 December
  • Catch up with GM Parnell Business Association on 8 December
  • Meeting with Parnell Trust on 8 December
  • Chairs’ Forum on 11 December
  • West Lynn community reference group meeting with Auckland Transport on 11 December
  • Ponsonby Business Association meeting and Christmas breakfast on 12 December
  • Parnell cycleway progress update with Auckland Transport on 12 December
  • Waitemata Local Board business meeting on 12 December

Events and functions:  8 November until 12 December

  • Attended the Trafinz conference 8- 10 November in Nelson (Attachment 2)
  • Armistice Day Commemoration Ceremony at Auckland Museum on 11 November
  • Women in Urbanism Vision Zero presentation with Dr Belin and panel discussion at Ellen Meville Centre on 13 November (photo right- on the panel with Dr Belin, Caroline Perry from Brake and Jessica Rose, Albert-Eden Board member)
  • Westpac Regional Business Awards- Central at the Langham Hotel at the invitation of ATEED on 14 November
  • Gave the vote of thanks at Auckland Conversations Vision Zero event on 15 November
  • Auckland Harbour Bridge lights update and morning tea with Mayor Phil and Vector representatives on 16 November.  The Harbour Bridge will be the first bridge in the world to have its lighting powered entirely by solar energy. The LED lights will be individually controlled and will transform our bridge with lighting shows for special events and occasions.
  • Launched the Adopt a Tree campaign organised by the Urban Tree Alliance with a grant from the local board. Held at Western Park on 18 November
  • Ellen Melville Centre community day on 18 November (photo right with board members Adriana Christie and Richard Northey and the EMC team)
  • Grey Lynn Pump Track opening party on 18 November (Photo below right Johnloyd, aged 7 in his winning race)
  • Parnell Festival of Roses on 19 November
  • Stand for Zero at Silo Park to commemorate international day of road traffic victims on 19 November
  • Fire and Emergency NZ stakeholder function to meet Chair, Hon Paul Swain, board members and the Chief Executive Rhys Jones at Rydges Hotel on 20 November
  • ASB Classic 2018 Launch at Holy Trinity Cathedral on 22 November
  • Opening of the Latvian honorary consulate in Auckland on 23 November
  • Grey Lynn Park Festival on 25 November
  • Santa Parade at the invitation of Crackerjack Productions on 26 November
  • Low carbon Christmas organised by the low carbon network at Studio One on 29 November
  • Rainbow Youth sponsors breakfast on 30 November
  • Lifewise Christmas function at Merge Café on 30 November
  • Annual Enviroschools celebration at Western Springs Community Hall on 1 December. I presented to Newmarket School with a certificate to recognise their commitment to sustainability (photo right)
  • Opening Night of the Franklin Road Christmas Lights on 1 December (photo right with Governor General, Mayor Phil Goff and lights coordinator Roscoe Thorby)
  • Ponsonby Market Day on 2 December
  • Lightpath Festival on 2 December (photo below with Minister of Transport Phil Twyford)
  • Wither Hills West End Tennis Cup Tournament finals on 3 December (at the invitation of the West End Tennis Club)
  • At the Lightpath Festival with Minister of Transport Phil Twyford

    Sugartree Design showcase at Sugartree apartments on 5 December

  • Attended Basement Theatre’s Patron’s night and Christmas show Santa Claus on 7 December
  • Opened the exhibition Changing Gear: Celebrating cycling in Aotearoa on 8 December (opening speech Attachment 3)
  • Italian Christmas market on 9 December at Freemans Bay Community Hall on 9 December
  • Joined the official party at the Citizenship Ceremony at the Town Hall on 11 December

Opening Changing Gear exhibition celebrating cycling Aotearoa

E nga mana, e nga reo, e rau rangatira ma

E te kaumatua David, Tena koe

Ka mihi whānui ki a koutou katoa,

E nga hau e wha

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

Greetings to everyone gathered here today

It is a great honor to be opening an exhibition at MOTAT on behalf of Auckland Council. I know the Mayor Phil Goff very much wanted to be here and Councillor Chris Darby, Chair of the Planning Committee.  As you’ll discover in the exhibition we can thank the bicycle for the emancipation of women and opening the way for women to vote and enter politics. So I am very happy be representing my political colleagues this evening including Councillor Wayne Walker who just snuck in.

It is wonderful to see a collaboration between MOTAT and Auckland transport to celebrate 200 years of the humble pahikara.   Thank you for everyone who has worked hard to bring this exhibition together.

There are fantastic quotes about the bicycle.  My mum painted on to the front door of our family home the HG Wells quote :  “Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”

Iris Murdoch sums it up for me as I rode here this evening “The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.”

There is much to discover in the exhibition that highlights the importance of the bicycle for transport, recreation, health, sport, winning the America’s cup – it is inspired to have the cyclors as part of the exhibition – and just lots of fun. Thank you for the sneak peak in advance of the formalities.

Many of my cycling heroes feature in the exhibition including Mr T who is transforming lives in Mangere.  I’ve long been fans of the Kennett brothers.  How people mocked John Key when he talked of riding from one end of NZ to the other and creating jobs on the way – it is really happening thanks to NZ cycle trails Nga Haerenga and Jonathan Kennett’s Tour Aotearoa.  Great to see the Kennett  brothers recognised for their ground breaking work going back to the 80’s.

I love the kiwi ingenuity, creativity and innovation on display in the exhibition that seems a perfect fit with mucking around with bikes.   There is the telling of familiar stories  and new cycling stories emerging as young people embrace cycling again. After a very tense time of “bikelash” I  found it really refreshing to view on line the other day the short film Auckland Cycling by Western Springs College students Isaac Keating and Finley Parker-James.  They have informatively uncovered some of the issues that Auckland faces integrating cycling into the city landscape.

This beautiful early summer weather is bringing out people in unprecedented numbers on their bikes.  Kathryn King, AT’s walking and cycling manager just told me that the latest stats show a 19% increase on November last year.  MOTAT is perfectly positioned to attract visitors on the NW cycleway – an off road path to the front door perfect for cycling with children.  There is also a poignancy for me in opening this exhibition.   Those who chose to ride are going lightly on the planet, contributing to better health outcomes, less congestion, less pollution but at the same time are incredibly vulnerable on our vehicle prioritised roads.

Just up the road from here a protest about poor design – which we can all agree on – but has turned into an occupation demanding an end the entire cycleway programme!

Now more than ever we need to double down on our efforts  to build a network of safe cycleways.  I want to acknowledge those who are leading the way  – with Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter who have made active transport and safety a priority – and those working at the coalface to make Auckland a great cycling city building on the last 200 years of cycling history to shape a low carbon, sustainable city for the future. A city that is built for people to ride bikes is a much safer city for everyone.

OK that is enough of me going off piste with my speech. Ko whea te haere a ko ake nei? (as I read at the entrance of the exhibition full of te reo signage)

Time to change gear to bring it back to what we are here to celebrate what is sure to be a a very popular exhibition this summer.

I would like to declare Changing Gear celebrating cycling Aotearoa  officially open!

Kia ora

 

 

Chair’s monthly report November 2017

Report covering the period 9 October until 7 November 2017.  (Attached to the November business meeting agenda)

Highlights

 Good Citizens’ Awards

Every two years the Waitematā Local Board hosts the Good Citizen Awards first initiated in 2013 by Shale Chambers with great support from former member Tricia Reade.

The awards are the Board’s way of recognising community leaders and groups for going above and beyond for the benefit of the community and the environment. At our third Good Citizens’ Awards ceremony held last month we celebrated the huge contribution of volunteers and heard the amazing stories behind each of the nominations. We’re very privileged to have such fantastic individuals and groups out there doing good.

Awards were made in four categories – Children and Young People, Individual, Community Group, Special Award for Long Service to the Community – to a diverse range of recipients from across Waitematā. (Attachment One: Good Citizen Awards citations and photos for all the recipients)

10-year budget – One Local Initiative presentation

For the first time Local Boards are focusing on one priority advocacy project (referred to as an OLI – One Local Initiative) for inclusion in the 10 year budget that goes out for consultation in February 2017.  On 2 November all local boards were given 15 minutes to present their OLI to the Finance and Performance Committee. I was joined by Deputy Chair Shale Chambers, members Adriana Christie and Richard Northey presenting on 254 Ponsonby Road known as “Ponsonby Park”  (Attachment Two: presentation)

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei marae visit

On 26 October Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei marae hosted the Waitemata Local Board. It was a great opportunity to strengthen our partnership and to hear about some of their aspirations and projects, and vice versa. Ngati Whatua showed us around the marae, and introduced us to some of their projects including the nursery and worm farm.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei  were led by Rangmarie Hunua, Chief Executive of Whai Maia.

 Asia–Pacific Cycle Congress 17 – 20 October in Christchurch

I was fortunate to attend the Congress as a presenter and judge of the Cycle Friendly Awards presented at the Congress dinner.  The Congress brought together excellent international speakers including the Dutch Cycling Embassy and local presenters. Attendees covered elected representatives, practitioners, researchers and advocates.

A key takeaway for me from the Congress is the importance of planning the places and streets we want that work for everyone rather than focusing on “cycling” for “cyclists”. The planning has to start with addressing the car and parking (“what really determines how cities look and move is their parking rules”).  A smart city is one that focuses on walkability and mobility to tackle challenging environmental and health issues.  As Steve Hoyts McBeth from Portland said there is “nothing more unsafe than a sedentary kid”

The presentation I gave with Christchurch Councillor Phil Clearwater  (Attachment Three: From the fringe to mainstream: the politics of gaining community support and delivering successful cycling infrastructure for the future) was part of a community engagement session where lessons were shared from the Island Bay Cycleway project in Wellington about the importance of bringing the community along on cycle projects that they can end up feeling proud about.

Congratulations to Te Ara Mua: Future Streets for winning the Supreme Award at the Cycle Friendly Awards organised by Cycle Action Network and NZTA (photo of Mangere-Otahuhu Chair, Lydia Sosene, Kathryn King Auckland Transport, members of the Future Streets team and judges Richard Leggat and Peter King).

My flights and one night’s accommodation were paid for by NZTA. Registration and two night’s accommodation were funded from the Board’s professional development budget.

Dockless bike share arrives in Auckland

Interestingly just after the Congress a dockless bike share scheme started in Auckland with the arrival of 100 Onzo bikes. The company did not seek permission from Council or Auckland Transport before launching.

At the Congress we heard about the phenomenal growth of dockless bikes worldwide. Philip Darnton, Executive Director of the Bicycle Association, highlighted the benefits of getting more people riding but said we need to be aware that dockless bike companies are “not interested in transport just data.”

In Auckland concerns have been raised regarding the use of public facilities for parking the bikes and the potential for vandalism and dumping.

AT has since advised that NZTA has drafted a Code of Practice based on best practice from overseas cities, with the intention that it be adopted and modified by councils nationally to ensure that any bike share schemes that come to New Zealand, have bikes that remain maintained and do not obstruct the public realm.

AT is in the process now of working with Auckland Council’s Compliance team and Auckland Transport’s legal team to ensure the Code of Practice aligns with Auckland Council’s bylaws.

 Project updates

 Teed Street upgrade

The final work has been completed on Teed St with the installation of planting and street furniture. (Attachment Four: Newmarket Business Association media release).

 I have been following up on potential Board support for promoting the completed upgrade to bring shoppers back to the area to support the businesses who have struggled through the construction period.

 Ponsonby Road pedestrian improvements project

 Works is now complete on Brown Street (photo right) and continuing on Pollen Street.

Night work was planned for 14-17 November to install line markings and the pedestrian refuges at Norfolk St and Angelsea St intersections that have been out of action for too long raising safety concerns.

West Lynn walking and cycling improvements project

The West Lynn project featured in a NZ Herald story on 11 November: Auckland’s Grey Lynn sidelined by cycleway project

“Everyone agrees the fault lies with AT and a ‘tick the box’ consultation process that left the mega transport body and businesses on a different page when a genuine partnership was needed”.

I have made the following comment on Facebook:  I agree with the Grey Lynn Business Association & retailers that there are issues with this project that need to be sorted out by AT. The sloping footpath and drainage needs to be fixed. I also don’t think the bus stop outside Nature baby is in the right place. The consultation process was undermined when AT went out for feedback during the election last year (the Waitemata Local Board strongly opposed this). AT has done a poor job communicating the need for the project and the final plans.

What I do support is the need for improvements to safety and accessibility for everyone. The project addresses years of complaints and issues that have been raised by locals. For example the parking outside Harvest has changed to allow for a pedestrian build out at the Warnock Street intersection (this narrows the distance to cross). There is a new zebra crossing in the village. The design will reduce speeds. The construction has been a difficult time and businesses are receiving support to make loss of income claims. The aim is to create a more pleasant and safe walking environment that is good for business that will bring benefits to West Lynn.

Four bus stops have been replaced by two new bus stops opening up new parking to serve all the businesses (three new parks across the road from Harvest, 10 new ones outside Oranga Tamariki, and more outside Cherry & White). With further changes coming to the parking restrictions there will end up being more short term parking.

Also to note that the project isn’t finished yet. It is work in progress. More changes might need to be made to the design if the improvements don’t work as intended, but it is too early to judge. In addition, there are further upgrades coming such as a new roundabout at the Peel Street intersection. Locals have been asked for this for many years.

[Note: since providing this update I have done a site visit with Auckland Transport to identify issues and confirm remedial action. Auckland Transport is now completing reviewing the design. Simon Wilson has written an excellent article about the issues for the Spinoff  The fiasco in West Lynn: how did Auckland Transport get a shopping village makeover so wrong?]

Resignation from Board triggers by-election

Mark Davey resigned from the Local Board on 16 October due to his escalating business interests. Mark has told board members he that he looks forward to seeing the continued good work the Waitemata Local Board does in the community.

Nominations will open on Friday 24 November 2017 and close at noon on Friday 22 December 2017. Voting packs will be delivered from Friday 26 January 2018 and voting will close at noon on Saturday 17 February 2018.

Meetings and workshops: 9 October until 7 November

  • Weekly Chair’s meeting every Monday morning
  • Chair’s forum on 9 October
  • Ponsonby Business Association monthly meeting on 10 October
  • Waitematā Local Board workshops on 10, 24, 31 October and 7 November
  • Meeting with the Ponsonby Park group and board members on 11 October
  • Franklin Road Community Liaison meeting on 12 October
  • Chair’s recommendations run through
  • Meeting with officers on 12 October to discuss Grey Lynn Park multi-purpose facility
  • Catch up with Michelle Prior, Director within the Department of Transport in Western Australia prior to Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress
  • Meeting with Andrew Bell, Auckland Transport to discuss membership of TRANIZ and road safety issues
  • Meeting to discuss the Board’s One Local Initiative to be presented to Governing Body for inclusion in the 10 year budget (Attachment Two)
  • Local Boards sub-regional workshop on 16 October
  • Attended the Asia-Pacific Cycle Conference in Christchurch 17- 20 October and gave a presentation with Cr Phil Clearwater, Christchurch City Council (Attachment Three)
  • Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 17 October was chaired by Deputy Chair Shale Chambers in my absence at the Asia-Pacific Cycle Conference
  • Local board briefing on 24 October – budget and policy issues in the lead up to the 10 year budget
  • Site visit with Claire Walker, Walker Landscape at Te Hā O Hine Place to discuss interpretation signage
  • Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei marae visit for board members and Local Board team on 26 October
  • Meeting with Karen Soich to discuss resident’s parking issues
  • Meeting with representatives of Richmond Rovers to discuss next steps to progress new clubrooms in Grey Lynn Park
  • Site visit with Cr Mike Lee to discuss Newmarket Station Square access way from Broadway
  • Meeting with owner of Gypsy Tearoom to discuss West Lynn improvements project construction
  • Meeting with Chair, Grey Lynn Business Association
  • Feedback session on 27 October on the progress of the City Centre Public Amenities Project after the research phase which reviewed the public amenity provision in the City Centre
  • Grey Lynn Farmers Market AGM on 29 October
  • Ponsonby Park governing body presentation run through with community-led steering group
  • Rates briefing for Local board members
  • Workshop for local board chairs and nominees to discuss their presentation to the Finance and Performance Committee on the 2 November.
  • Presentation to board members of the K’rd business plan and yearly review
  • Meeting with Auckland Transport to discuss Levels of service & safety for pedestrians in the city centre
  • Ponsonby Business Association AGM on 30 October
  • Finance and Performance Committee Workshop LTP 2018-2028 on 2 November Civic Spaces theme – Advocacy: one local initiative discussion with the Finance and Performance Committee (Attachment C)
  • Communications & Engagement Elected Member Reference Group on 3 November
  • Western Bays Community Group AGM on 6 November
  • Auckland City Centre Residents Group AGM on 6 November
  • Grey Lynn Community Centre AGM on 7 November

Events and functions:  9 October until 7 November

  • Late Night Art on 10 October – Art Week event
  • Coxs Bay playground celebration on 12 October
  • Good Citizens’ Award ceremony on 12 October (Attachment A)
  • Diwali Festival Opening in Aotea Square on 14 October
  • From the Deck spring gathering of the Ada/Bassett/Swinton Community Group looking to restore Newmarket Stream with Gecko Trust
  • Attended the Cycle to the Future awards dinner on 19 October at the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress as a guest judge (return airfares and one night accommodation provided by NZTA).
  • Citizenship Ceremony in the Town Hall on 24 October
  • Sustainable Business Network 15th birthday celebrations at Pocket Bar on 26 October
  • Service of consecration for Holy Trinity Cathedral on 28 October (photo right with Rod Oram and Jo Kelly-Moore, former Dean of Holy Trinity now Archdeacon of Canterbury)
  • Trash to Trade launch at the Grey Lynn Farmers Market on 29 October
  • McConnell Property 20th Anniversary at the Cloud on
  • Opening night of Auckland Theatre Company’s Red Speedo on 2 November (at the invitation of ATC)
  • Auckland Street Choir performance and visit to Stuck in the Maze at Auckland Central Library on 4 November
  • 2017 Auckland Consular Corps flag raising at Auckland Town Hall on 3 November (photo below)
  • Glenfield Primary School assembly on 6 November: Brake Road Safety Charity poster competition winner (I attended as a judge)

 

 

From the fringe to mainstream: Presentation at the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress

From the fringe to mainstream: the politics of gaining community support and delivering successful cycling infrastructure for the future

At the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress held in Christchurch 17-20 October 2017 I presented in a session on the theme of Community Engagement in collaboration with Christchurch City Councillor Phil Clearwater. We thought it would be interesting to present our respective political takeouts and to provide a space to discuss what the politics of gaining community support and delivering successful cycling infrastructure  is looking like with other politicians, advocates and people delivering on the ground. It is also an opportunity to contrast the Christchurch way with what is happening in Auckland.

Slide 1

Slide 1:  My background is as a cycling advocate. I came to politics as a committee member of Cycle Action Auckland (now Bike Auckland) and co-organizer of Frocks on Bikes in Auckland ( shout out to Bella & Leah the co-founders of Frocks about to celebrate the 10 year anniversary next year) . When I first got involved in advocacy almost 10 years ago it was as part of a smallish but growing group of activists responding  to the question Why would anyone cycle ?  (especially in Auckland that is  of course too hilly, too wet and too humid etc). I was told there was no votes in cycling as it was too fringe!

Last week Michelle, who works for the WA state government got in touch for a coffee before the conference. She told me she was a fan of the global leadership of Auckland – I’ve never heard that before! But as we are going to hear from presenters over the course of the conference Auckland is experiencing unprecedented transformation into a cycling city.

I’m presenting my personal thoughts on how we are going in Auckland from a political perspective .

It looks like we have a number of complimentary presentations that consider bike lash and from the trenches perspectives – it is of course not all plain sailing.

Slide 2

Slide 2: I’m going to presume that non Aucklanders are at best only vaguely familiar with our unique governance arrangements.

Since 2010 we’ve had the super city of 21 Local Boards focusing on the local stuff – playgrounds, community centres, libraries etc and an advocacy role rather than a decision making role for transport. A mayor and 20 councilors of the governing body responsible for regional decision making and setting the vision and strategy for Auckland.  Chris Darby councillor for North Shore is here.

Auckland Transport – one of the arguably missed named council “controlled” organizations-  is responsible for all transport functions and operations including consulting on cycling projects.

I’m chair of this area [slide 2], the Waitemata Local Board covering the city centre and central suburbs of Auckland.  For 7 years I’ve also held the transport portfolio lead.

Slide 3

Slide 3: The foundations of the move from fringe to mainstream started long before 2010 but in Auckland the radical realignment of the cycling universe received a big bang boost with the formation of the Super City.

For the first time a pro-cycling Mayor was elected together with pro- cycling Local boards and councilors (admittedly only a few to start with).  But it opened the way for political support for an all of Auckland cycling strategy backed up with meaningful budget.

At the time we wanted to use a regular people on bikes photo in our first local board plan 2011 – all the Council’s photo archive could come up with was what looked like a man in high viz being chased by a car! This image (slide 3) was our more idealized vision of the future thanks to board member Jesse Chambers and her Green friends.

Slide 4

Slide 4: Giving the Mayor and politicians wind in their sails was the work of the advocates groups who had been creatively working away building a ground swell of support and were ready to seize the new possibilities of thinking big.   Who would have imaged that we would have a award winning magenta cycleway on disused motorway off-ramp delivered in 16 months – but it was Bike Auckland who were instrumental in planting the idea in the first place!

Shout out to our advocates:

And the many speakers from overseas introduced to us through events like Auckland Conversations and experts like Dutch Bicyle Embassy, Tyler Golly  who’ve come to Auckland to broaden our horizons.

Slide 5:

Slide 5: The awareness raising by activists has led to unprecedented public feedback supporting investment in cycling.

This graph is from the Annual budget consultation in 2015 that led to the introduction of an interim transport levy.   Cycling and walking is a close second to public transport in the transport area that submitters think Council should focus more on .

For our recent Local Board plan consultation we had 80% approval that we were on the right track.  In fact we received feedback that we should be bolder and deliver faster.

Cycling is mainstream politics!

Slide 6

Slide 6: As we know the winning combination of  strong public support and feel good projects brought the politicians with the big bucks along for the ride.

John Key came on board in 2013 with the $100m urban cycling investment fund – anecdotally I’ve heard he was strongly influenced by the positive feedback he received from all the baby boomers coming back from riding Great rides and wanting to keep cycling.   (I was honoured to be on the investment panel with Glen Koorey, Richard Leggat who are here, supported by an impressive NZTA team – Claire, Rebecca, Duncan, Gerry who did all the work )

In this photo at the opening of the Quay St cycleway there are at least 10 politicians all hustling to be seen on a bike!

Slide 7

Slide 7: I’ve heard it said you need a trifecta to make cycling happen: Mayor/leadership + advocates is completed by the  “plangineers.” I credit this to Timothy Papandreou,  then Director of Strategic Planning & Policy at the San Francisco municipal transportation agency who I heard speak at Velocity 2014 but he might have been quoting  Janette Sadik Khan . A special mention to those people with the skills to plan, design and build the cycleways.

So in the western area of Waitemata covering Grey Lynn and Westmere major routes are now complete, underway or about to start.

Slide 8: Here is what we can look forward to on that blue line – known as Route 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slide 9: And on the pink line along Richmond Road – route 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slide 10: And we are underway Route 2 under construction

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slide 11: More of Route 2 under construction – right through the shops

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slide 12: Route 1 under construction. Taking the cyclelane into the shops but not through it –yet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slide 13

Slide 13: That is a hell of a lot of cones appearing on our streets and a lot of construction. In saying that I acknowledge that we know nothing about cones and construction compared to Christchurch.

 

 

 

 

Slide 14:

Slide 14: For me it is great to see the progress that is underway.  I feel it shows momentum after a slow start.  We can see the network effect taking shape.

When I see scenes like this I tear up. It is why I got into politics.

We’re all happy then?  Living the dream ….

 

Slide 15:  We’ve hit just a bit of a bike lash speed bump!

Slide 15

Admittedly these are the comments of one person but she is reflecting the stirrings of community dissatisfaction now that construction is actually underway and having an impact on people’s lives.

There are some key themes:

  • Consultation process.  Not hearing that any changes have been made as a result of feedback  and not feeling listened to by AT [consultation happened during the election last year so definitely not a good idea]
  • Lack of communication. eg complaints about not knowing the construction is starting
  • Misunderstanding about the “obscene” amount of money  ($200m over three years for all of Auckland has been reported as  $200 m per year in Grey Lynn)
  • Perception that Auckland Council is prioritising cycling over more pressing issues such as homelessness, congestion and sewage in the harbour
  • Dislike for change being imposed on a well loved area. “Not broken so doesn’t need fixing”
  • Don’t believe the evidence or that international experience applies to Auckland

This is not necessarily all negative.   Had to add a bouquet just to restore the balance!

As I heard said at Velo City in 2014 from a Mayoral Rep “ A good city means dialogue and controversy – getting people engaged in their environment and its transformations can only be a good sign of things to come”

I agree with Phil’s comment that we need to win the battle without losing the war.    How are we going to do that in Auckland ?  How are we going to keep the political support. How can we respond to take communities with us. A few thoughts:

Slide 16

Slide 16: Putting the construction into context

Change is a constant

Preparing for tram service on Richmond Road in 1910

 

 

 

Slide 17

 

Slide 17: Just over a hundred years later we are preparing for bike lanes on the same spot

Along with that is going to be a change in how these shops function and work as a “Village”.

 

 

 

Slide 18

Slide 18: Everyone has to have their own “see the light” experience – whether it is from travelling overseas or a direct experience of the benefits of getting on a bike

Kathryn’s team is doing a great job bringing together the data but we need more NZ examples demonstrating the economic and societal benefits.  I soak up what I hear from overseas experiences – for example the lessons from Canada shared by Tyler Golly in the photo – but there is distrust of what has happened outside of NZ and a view that it doesn’t apply here.

 

Slide 19

Slide 19: In Auckland we do have a unique political situation. I am a fan of the Super city as it has improved local democracy and stopped political meddling in delivering  transport solutions for the benefit of everyone.

But at the same time it has removed the community from the transport decision making process.

I’m looking forward to Kathryn’s presentation about the lessons from the trenches on doing engagement differently so I won’t go into that in detail here but communication and bringing the community along is definitely key. [Wellington City Councillor Sarah Free in her presentation in the same sessions made very good points about the lessons from the Island Bay cycleway experience including delivering a project the whole community can feel proud in and working closely with businesses and residents]

Of course we need to keep working to elect pro-cycling representatives.   [In the photo] Jessica Rose, fellow Frocker was recently elected to Albert Eden with her colleague Margi Watson who was instrumental in delivering the waterview path and is a recent convert to e-cycling

Get people on the inside doing the great work

Keep the tri-fecta strong – support the advocates

Slide 20

Slide 20:  I think it has been interesting to put together this presentation and attend the conference at a time of huge change resulting in bike lash.

It has been great to meet up with and acknowledge the many people on this journey.

Together I think we are going to ride this through (hopefully with renewed funding from the next government).   At future international conferences I am sure Kathryn will be doing presentations on the Auckland story of cycling success!

 

 

 

 

 

Chair’s monthly report October 2017

Report covering the period 11 September until 9 October 2017.

Highlights

Opening of Ellen Melville Centre and Freyberg Place

The biggest project that the Board has delivered was opened on 15 September.  In my speech I looked back on the journey to create an inner city community hub and acknowledged the many people involved with the restoration of Ellen Melville Centre (the Board’s project) and the upgrade of Freyberg Place (funded from the City Centre targeted rate). It was a very proud day for the Board.  Since the opening I have enjoyed a number of events at the centre.

Project updates:

Teed Street upgrade

As part of the Board Member Local Board Area Orientation Tour 2017 on 28 September we visited Teed Street to see how the work is coming along to widen footpaths and add new tree pits.

 The work is expected to be completed by the end of October.

Photo right: Mark Knoff- Thomas, GM Newmarket Business Association

Ponsonby Road pedestrian improvements project

Summary of the latest update from Auckland Transport on Ponsonby works:

Brown Street (photo right) and Angelsea Street are expected to be completed the week of 9 October. The contractor has been:

  • removing the existing kerbs/asphalt in Brown St,
  • concrete work for kerbs, ramps and channels
  • installing the paver blocks in Anglesea Street.

Pollen Street begins 9 October. Remediation work on MacKelvie Street starts on 24 October weather permitting and will take a total of seven nights.

Eastern Viaduct Carpark

 Following advocacy from the Local Board, Panuku has agreed to work towards closing the Eastern Viaduct car park to make it public space and to improve waterfront connectively.

In moving towards the closure in March 2018, Panuku is seeking ideas on how the space can be used. Media Release Attachment B.

West Lynn improvements

I have been following up on a number of issues associated with the project to improve pedestrian safety and install cycle lanes on Richmond Road (Route 2 of the Waitemata Safer routes scheme). Works are progressing fast but there are concerns about the location of the bus stops and the disruption to the shopping area during the construction.   I’ve also asked Auckland Transport to improve the parking signage and “businesses open” messaging (now in place – photo right).

As at 9 October AT has confirmed:

  • Signage larger A0 signage went up over the weekend.
  • The messaging on the electronic boards have been changes at AT’s request.
  • We have had approval to establish temporary parking on the Eastern side come through. We’re currently working through the final details and have signage in development. The parking will be one-way only and directed by additional monitoring staff to minimise collision risk when exiting.

Grafton Residential Parking Zone consultation

Waitematā Local Board’s feedback on the proposed Grafton parking changes is attached to the Auckland Transport monthly report on the agenda.

Hobson Bay Walkway

The Board has been looking to complete the Hobson Bay walkway for some time to take the route up to Pt Resolution. It is a project in the Pt Resolution Taurarua Development Plan however it is looking like it will be expensive and challenging to construct a suitable staircase at Pt Resolution.

In the meantime, the mudcrete walkway at the base of the cliffs has been poorly maintained and has suffered storm damage.

At our September meeting we considered a report from officers advising that the no exit section north of Awatea Road poses a health and safety risk due to slips.  We passed the following resolution.

Closure of the Hobson Bay walkway between Awatea Road and St Stephens Avenue
Resolution number WTM/2017/182

MOVED by Deputy Chairperson S Chambers, seconded by Member R Thomas:  

That the Waitematā Local Board:

a)       note the officer recommendation that the no exit section of the Hobson Bay walkway between the Awatea Road access point and the headland below St Stephens Avenue should be closed due to ongoing embankment slips resulting in a health and safety risk to the public

b)       approve the closure of the Hobson Bay existing mudcrete walkway between the Awatea Road access point and the headland below St Stephens Avenue due to the health and safety risk.

c)      notes the closure will be by way of advisory signage.

d)      request officers update signage along the entire route as soon as possible including at the Elam Road access point and the section of the Hobson Bay walkway from Awatea Road to Parnell Baths/Pt Resolution in accordance the Pt Resolution Taurarua Development Plan

e)      request officers to investigate the feasibility of other options for maintenance, renewal and completion of the entire Hobson’s Bay walkway from Thomas Bloodworth Park to St Stephen’s Avenue.

f)        delegate to the portfolio leads Member Shale Chambers and Member Adriana         Avendano Christie for approval of the permanent walkway signage wording

 CARRIED

We anticipate a temporary closure while options for completing the walkway are investigated. Any proposal will go out for public consultation.

Events

 Festival Italiano goes Zero Waste

Festival Italiano organizer Alessandra  Zecchini has again done a tremendous job delivering a successful event in Newmarket (despite the challenge of spring weather).

I was delighted to speak at the opening on behalf of the Board (Attachment C) and to acknowledge the implementation of Zero Waste for the first time. I received a lot of positive feedback about this initiative.

Photo right:  Board member Adriana Christie with Zero Waste Alliance community volunteers

I also spoke at the opening of Art Week (Attachment D)

Meetings and workshops: 11 September until 9 October

  • Weekly Chair’s meeting every Monday morning
  • Chair’s forum on 11 September
  • Waitematā Local Board workshops on 12, 26 September (half day), and 2 October
  • Planning Committee
  • Ports Community Reference Group on 13 September
  • Tour of Ellen Melville Centre on 14 September for Local Board services team and board members (photo right with Project Manager Lisa Spasic)
  • Judges Panel decision making meeting for the Good Citizens Awards 2017
  • Local Boards sub-regional workshop on 18 September
  • Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 19 September
  • Newmarket Business Association AGM on 20 September
  • Meeting with GM Ponsonby Business Association on 21 September
  • Meeting to discuss Achievement Report photos on 26 September
  • Wynyard Quarter Transport Management Association montly board meeting on 27 September (I am now a non-voting member of the Association)
  • Sat in on the Auckland City Centre Advisory Board meeting on 27 September
  • Annual General Meeting of SASOC on 28 September
  • Board Member Local Board Area Orientation Tour 2017 on 28 September (photo right at Basque Park)
  • LGNZ Governance and Strategy Advisory Group meeting in Wellington on 29 September
  • Local board long-term plan briefing on infrastructure funding and investment on 2 October
  • Meeting to finalise Local Board Plan
  • Meeting with Shaughan Woodcock, Pride Parade producer
  • Meeting with Taha Macpherson & Nirupa George from the Mayor’s office to discuss issues going into 10 year budget
  • Catch up with Phil Wilson, Governance Director
  • Catch up with Councillor Lee on 4 October
  • Chair’s Forum on 9 October

Events and functions:  11 September until 8 October

  • Farewell Function – Karen Lyons, GM Local Board Services on 11 September
  • Low Carbon Network – Meet The Candidates event at Freemans Bay Community Centre on 12 September (Photo right making a few introductory remarks)
  • Launch of City Hop electric car charging station in the Downtown car park on 15 September
  • Opening of Ellen Melville Centre and Freyberg Place on 15 September (Opening speech on behalf of the Board)
  • Ponsonby Market Day on 16 September (Attachment E)
  • He Ra Maumahara – Project launch of Te Toka O Apihai by Ports of Auckland and Ngati Whatua Orakei on 18 September
  • Suffrage Day celebrations at Te Hā o Hine Place on 19 September (photo right with the Mayor and Councillors)
  • Attended Tashlikh (Jewish atonement ceremony) at the end of Queens Wharf on 21 September
  • Auckland Conversation In partnership with #Liveable RMLA Conference on 22 September: Toronto’s Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat outlined the ways in which her city has been addressing the shared challenges of rapid population growth, urban redevelopment and renewal, transport choice, housing affordability and community change.
  • Opening of Festival Italiano at Non Solo Pizza on 27 September
  • Knot Touch exhibition opening celebration at the Maritime Museum on 28 September
  • Festival Italiano and festival lunch at the invite of Dante Alighieri on 1 October
  • Civic Trust Heritage Festival debate on 3 October
  • Tyler Golly presentation: Can you build a bike network overnight? at a Bike Auckland and Auckland Council event on 3 October
  • Opening of the new DOC/i-site on Princes Wharf on 4 October (photo right: Lou Sampson, DG of DOC)
  • Māpura Studios debate at Studio One on 4 October including Richard Northey as a panel member
  • Bike Breakfast on 5 October
  • Opening of the Generator at GRID AKL by the Mayor on 5 October
  • Waterview cycleway opening on 6 October
  • Presentation by Greg Vann at MR Cagney on 6 October
  • Spoke at the opening of Art Week at the Ellen Melville Centre on 6 October (Attachment D)
  • Pedal Power in Aotea Square for Biketober
  • Pollinator Park first birthday celebrations on 7 October
  • Auckland Heritage Festival walk of the Waitemata Local Board’s Foreshore Heritage walk on 8 October (photo right of the happy walkers)

New Government urged to take more action on road safety as support for Vision Zero increases

NZ’s road toll is tragically rising.  A new road safety approach is needed that will work.

The Waitemata Local Board is with Brake, Cycle Action Network and NZ School Speeds in backing Vision Zero.

Media Release: Brake Road Safety Charity

New Government urged to take more action on road safety as support for Vision Zero increases

Date: 6 October 2017

Advocates are calling on the new Government to take a fresh approach to road safety, as road deaths increase for the fourth year in a row.

Already this year 283 people have been killed.

A group of organisations has come together to call on Government and local authorities to adopt a Vision Zero approach to road safety – aiming for zero road deaths and serious injuries.

The calls come from Brake, the road safety charity, Cycling Action Network, NZ School Speeds, and Waitematā Local Board Chairperson Pippa Coom, and follow recent moves by some local authorities to embrace Vision Zero.

The organisations are welcoming the moves by Hamilton City Council and Waitematā Local Board to include a target of zero road deaths in their plans, and are urging the new Government and other local authorities to also adopt Vision Zero.

There has also been an increase in public support for Vision Zero measures. A petition set up by NZ School Speeds, ‘Go Dutch and Stop Child Murder’, which calls for 30km/h speed limits around schools and minimum passing gaps between vehicles and cyclists to help children get to and from school safely has gained over 4,000 signatures in a week. According to global best practice, places where high numbers of people on foot and bike mix with other traffic should have 30km/h speed limits.

Caroline Perry, Brake’s NZ director, said: “New Zealand needs to go beyond the current Safe System approach by aiming for Vision Zero. We must create a safe, sustainable, healthy and fair transport system for everyone.”

She says Vision Zero is a proven strategy to bring down the road toll and ultimately bring an end to road deaths and serious injuries.

“At its core is the principle that life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within society.

“Vision Zero aims to change how governments, organisations, and people approach road safety. A core message is that there are no ‘accidents’. Crashes have causes that are preventable. Working with bereaved families, we see the devastating consequences of crashes. We need action now to reduce our road toll. This approach is reducing road deaths abroad and it’s vital we have it in New Zealand and show that the only acceptable number of deaths on the road is zero.”

Patrick Morgan, Cycling Action Network said: “Safety is no accident. It’s time we moved beyond the Safe System approach, which has failed. With road deaths increasing again this year, we need to adopt Vision Zero, to protect people.”

Lucinda Rees, NZ School Speeds, said: “Make roads safer with consistent and safe lower speed limits so that all can travel safely, and children have the opportunity to journey to school on foot or bike. Action is needed now.”

Pippa Coom, Chairperson of the Waitematā Local Board said: “For too long politicians and transport planners have accepted road fatalities are inevitable. We urgently need a new approach that is proven to work.”

Organisations and individuals with an interest in Vision Zero are urged to find out more and get involved by contacting the organisations above, or going to https://www.facebook.com/groups/VisionZeroforNZ/.

Notes
Total road deaths in NZ by year:
2016 – 328
2015 – 319
2014 – 293
2013 – 253
Source http://www.transport.govt.nz/research/roadtoll/

Brake: www.brake.org.nz
Cycling Action Network: Patrick Morgan tel 027 563 4733, www.can.org.nz
NZ School Speeds: www.facebook.com/NZSchoolSpeeds
Go Dutch and Stop Child Murder Petition: https://www.change.org/p/nz-minister-of-transport-go-dutch-and-stop-child-murder

Related reading

Hamilton City Council has introduced a vision zero target.

 

Chair’s monthly report September 2017

Report (on the September business meeting agenda) covering the period 7 August until 10 September 2017.

Highlights

Local Board plan hearing

Consultation on the draft Waitematā Local Board Plan 2017 concluded with a hearing held on 8 August.  15 submitters presented to the board on a range of topics.

At the hearing meeting we also received all the submissions and a high level overview of all the data gathered through the public consultation process.  In total 158 submissions were received on the draft Plan 2017. In addition, 34 people provided feedback at the ‘Have your Say’ engagement events and there were 11 pieces of feedback gathered through Facebook.

80 per cent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with this question “are we on the right track with our proposed local board plan?”, while 16 per cent neither agreed or disagreed and 4 per cent either disagreed or strongly disagreed.

We are in the process of revising the draft based on the feedback and will sign off the final plan at the Board’s October business meeting.

Draft Meola Reef Te Tokaroa Development Plan consultation

In August the Board signed off the draft Meola Reef Te Tokaroa Development Plan plan for consultation.    Consultation on the draft is now open until 29 September.  The following introduction to the plan is provided on the Shape Auckland website.

  • The purpose of the development plan is to coordinate development of Meola Reef Reserve Te Tokaroa, in the short, medium and long term (10+ years).
  • Such a long-term plan provides guidance for any changes to the area:
    • maintain and enhance the reserve’s ecological outcomes
    • respond to needs, concerns and desires of Mana Whenua, key stakeholders and the community; and
    • plan for future demand and needs.
  • Meola Reef is a lava reef formation that reaches over two kilometres into the Waitematā harbour.  A landfill was developed on the reef from 1930 to 1976.  After closure of the landfill and capping, the reserve informally developed as a dog walking destination.  The Reserve is now known as one of Auckland’s primary off and on-leash dog parks.
  • Management and mitigation of the closed landfill which underlies the reserve, is outside of the scope of the development plan.  However, any development of the park requires any landfill management works to be completed before park development works.
  • The development plan actions are unfunded at this stage.  The development plan will inform funding decisions.

Link to the draft plan and feedback form here

Pest Management

I worked with board member Rob Thomas to finalise the Board’s feedback on Auckland Regional Pest Management Plan Review (Attached to the agenda).

I attended the launch of Predator Free Grey Lynn at the Grey Lynn Farmers Market with Grey Lynn local, Jesse Mulligan (photo right) with support from Predator Free New Zealand Trust and Kiwibank. We also heard from Kelmarna Gardens for plans for Predator Free Ponsonby.

The importance of pest eradication in the survival of seabirds was highlighted at the excellent Hauraki Gulf Seminar Taking Flight I attended on 6 September at Auckland Museum.

Coxs Bay playground

The opening of the new Coxs Bay playground went ahead on 9 September despite forecast downpours. The playground is based on a theme of natural play and the fact that the area used to be a seasonal iwi harvesting place. New planting and natural play features such as boulders and climbing rocks were included in the design.  A playground celebration will be held on 12 October.

The renewal budget for the project was $370,000.

Western Springs Outer Fields bush tracks

I have been following up on the poor condition of the Western Springs Outer Fields bush tracks. Maintenance of the area had fallen between Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) and Council’s Community Facilities with no maintenance undertaken for some time.

RFA recently reported securing sufficient budget (quoted by City Parks as $28,752) to undertake the remedial works, as scoped by City Parks.  RFA now needs to complete the requisite procurement process and is seeking to complete the required physical work once we have improved weather conditions so the track will be fully functional for the upcoming summer.

Waima Street Pedestrian bridge

 For some time I have also been following up about the condition of the Waima Street pedestrian bridge that provides a walking and cycling connection between Arch Hill and the NW cycleway. At a meeting with the NZTA’s Director Regional Relationships for the Upper North Island, Pete Clarke we heard that NZTA has now secured a budget to undertake maintenance on the bridge (photo right – Albert Eden Local Board side of the bridge).

Walking and cycling improvements

In my September Ponsonby News update  I provided an overview of the major package of walking and cycling improvements that are either underway or about to start.  I’ve been attending the regular meetings organised by West Lynn business owners concerned about the loss of parking, location of bus stops and the construction disruption.

 Tamaki Drive cycleway route

In June Auckland Transport consulted on the Tamaki Drive Cycleway proposal from Quay Street to Ngapipi Road.  Auckland Transport’s options for the route where overwhelmingly rejected through the public feedback.  A revised design is now under investigation.   As transport portfolio lead I provided the following initial feedback on behalf of the Board:

The Waitematā Local Board is pleased that Auckland Transport has listened to the feedback received through the public consultation and is investigating a bi-directional cycle route on Tamaki Drive to the Ngapipi intersection. The Board supports this option with general traffic lanes that are as wide as possible to increase the safety of road riders.

 The Board does not support the section between Solent Street and the Strand remaining as a shared path for the following reasons:

  • The investment over the entire route is degraded by maintaining a lower level of service for this section.
  • It is not fit for purpose for the future numbers estimated to use this route once it is fully connected to the network
  • A shared path with high levels of users is not safe especially for people walking, running, skating etc alongside a traffic lane with high vehicles volumes
  • The proposed width of the shared path is not best practice

 The Board seeks a continuous connection from Quay St along Tamaki Drive with a consistent level of service. The Board therefore requests that AT work with NZTA to investigate the continuation of the bi-directional cycle route through the Solent St to the Strand section by re-allocating road space

 The Board also requests that

  • The bi-directional cycle route continues through the Solent Street intersection and that this intersection is re-designed to prioritise the safety of pedestrians and people on bikes
  • A safe, separated connection is provided to the Gladstone Road cycle route through the Strand intersection
  • Auckland Transport investigate opportunities for sustainable urban drainage/water sensitive design and opportunities to plant new street trees along the route

Auckland Transport will undertake further public consultation on the revised design.

 Ponsonby Road pedestrian improvements project

This project has caused a lot of headaches with delays and construction issues. The project is now back on track on due to be completed by mid-November.  The latest update from Auckland Transport (as at 8 September)

  • Both the Anglesea and Brown Street intersection works are progressing as planned. The drainage work on Anglesea Street is now complete and work has begun on the kerb build-outs.
  • The remaining work at Pollen Street intersection is expected to be complete before mid-November 2017.

Meetings and workshops: 7 August until 10 September

  • Weekly Chair’s meeting every Monday morning
  • Meeting with NZTA representatives on 7 August to discuss transport issues in Waitematā
  • Waitematā Local Board workshops on 8, 22, 29 August and 5 September
  • Waitematā Local Board Plan hearing on 8 August
  • Planning Committee waterfront briefing on 9 August
  • Meeting to discuss Auckland Transport’s temporary installations on K’rd for the introduction of double decker buses
  • Meetings with West Lynn business owners on 9, 16 August and 8 September to discuss cycleway construction works planned by Auckland Transport
  • Meeting on 10 August to discuss Ellen Melville Centre opening and planned Community Open Day
  • Meeting with Council planners to discuss the development of a Parnell precinct plan
  • Chair’s draft recommendations run through on 12 August
  • Interview panel member on 12 August for the CEO position at Auckland Transport
  • Monthly Local Board Chairs’ Forum on 15 August
  • Catch up with the Waitematā Youth Collective representatives on 16 August
  • Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 16 August
  • Monthly comms meeting on 16 August
  • Transport portfolio catch up on 17 August
  • Meeting with Council officers and the Principal of Auckland Girls’ Grammar School on 17 August to discuss possible options for developing in partnership the swimming pool and gym at the school
  • Use of social media by Council discussion with comms officers on 17 August
  • Meeting on 18 August with Richmond Rovers Rugby League Club representatives and Auckland Council staff to discuss development of multipurpose facility and new clubrooms in Grey Lynn Park
  • Judging for the NZTA cycle friendly awards on 18 August at the offices of the AA
  • Local Boards sub-regional workshop on 21 August
  • Newmarket level crossing community liaison meeting hosted by Auckland Transport at Jubilee Hall on 21 August
  • Environment portfolio meeting on 24 August
  • Engagement adviser catch up
  • Meeting with representatives from Kelmarna Gardens
  • Site Visit on 24 August to discuss tree planting project on St Marys Road with Chair, SMBA, Auckland Transport and Auckland Council arborist
  • Meeting on 25 August with Auckland Transport representatives and K’rd Business Association GM to discuss poor process and communication regarding the installation of temporary safety treatments on K’rd for the double decker bus project
  • Planning committee joint workshop on 29 August: waterfront and city centre planning
  • Franklin Road community liaison meeting hosted by Auckland Transport on 30 August
  • Domain Committee meeting on 31 August
  • Waitematā Local Board member “Behind the Scenes” tour of Auckland’s War Memorial Museum on 1 September to show the diverse work currently being carried out in order to meet the needs of our growing and diverse city.   The tour included the Pacific Collections Access Project (PCAP) – connecting with communities, Digital lab – collections on line and Basement storage – kaitiaki
  • Meeting on 1 September with the Sustainability squad at Parnell School to discuss their plans for a waste reduction project
  • Met with Sara Stace  a city shaper and architect focused on cycle planning visiting from Australia
  • City Centre and Waterfront Planning Refresh Local Board Input on 5 September
  • Attended the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Seminar 2017 – Taking Flight at Auckland Museum on 6 September
  • Catch up with General Manager, Newmarket Business Association on 7 September
  • Finance Committee 10 year budget joint workshop with governing body members and local board chairs on 7 September
  • Meeting with Mayor Goff on 8 September to discuss opening of Ellen Melville Centre and Freyberg Place
  • Communication and Engagement Expo on 8 September to find out what department does (covering Public Affairs – media relations, internal, corporate and local communications, Marketing & publicity, Citizen engagements and Insights, Brand & Channel – content, channels, design, Strategic Planning & Performance)

Events and functions:  7 August until 10 September  

  • Auckland Foundation event with guest speaker Julie Nelson of Housing First at Gus Fisher Gallery on 8 August
  • LATE at the Museum on 9 August at the invitation of Auckland Museum
  • Eat Albert Street (link to video of the event) on 10 August (Photo below: Free kai provided by Everybody eats at Griffith Gardens)
  • Vintage Austin Register – Auckland Branch AGM on 13 August
  • Splice cuppa event at Scarecrow Café on 15 August
  • Opening night of Nell Gywnn at Waterfront Theatre on 17 August at the invitation of Auckland Theatre Company
  • Presided at the Citizenship ceremony at Auckland Town Hall on 17 August (photo below with Kaumatua Bob Hawke, Waitemata Local Board member Richard Northey and Chair of Maungakiekie- Tamaki Local Board Josephine Bartley)
  • Margaret Mary’s farewell from TAPAC on 18 August
  • Funeral of Graham (Rocky) McGlynn, RSC President at the Grey Lynn RSC on 19 August
  • Labour’s Election Launch at the Auckland Town Hall on Sunday 20 August
  • PSA’s book launch on 21 August: Progressive Thinking: Ten Perspectives on Housing with panel discussion facilitated by Simon Wilson
  • Opening night of Matilda at the Civic Theatre at the invitation of ATEED on 24 August
  • Modelled on the Project Glow wear runway show on 26 August
  • Launch of Predator Free Grey Lynn at the Grey Lynn Farmers Market on 27 August
  • Lela Jacobs and Jimmy D Fashion Week shows at the invitation of the K’rd Business Association
  • Leaving function for Brett O’Reilly, ATEED CEO at GRID AKL on 31 August (Photo right with Brett)
  • Random Acts of Kindness Day on 1 September organised by Splice ( I dropped by the Splice team below handing out free pots of honey on K’rd)
  • Took part in a tactical urbanism event with Walk Auckland’s Andy Smith to mark the 8th Anniversary of the 40km speed limit on Ponsonby Road (photo right with our “speed gun” hairdryers)
  • Opening of the Corsini Collection at the Auckland Art Gallery on 2 September
  • Attended Merchant Navy Day Auckland Remembrance Service on 3 September at the Maritime Museum  (Photo below with Councillors Daniel Newman and Mike Lee)
  • Meet the candidates meeting for Auckland Central at St Matthews organised by the Auckland City Centre Residents Group on 7 September
  • Parnell Heritage AGM on 7 September
  • Open Day West End Lawn Tennis Club
  • 8th anniversary of the Grey Lynn Farmers Market on 10 September

Gift Declarations

  • Tickets x 2 Nell Gwynn at the invitation of Auckland Theatre Company
  • Tickets x 2 Matilda at the invitation of ATEED
  • Ticket to LATE at the Museum at the invitation of Auckland Museum
  • Lela Jacobs and Jimmy D Fashion Week shows at the invitation of K’rd Business Association

Opening of Ellen Melville Centre and Freyberg Place

Opening of the restored Ellen Melville Centre with Mayor Phil Goff, Kaumatua Bob Hawke, amd members of the Melville family

On 15 September 2017 we celebrated the opening of the newly renovated Ellen Melville Centre and upgraded Freyberg Place.  I gave a speech on behalf of the Waitematā Local Board. It’s long! This is the Board’s biggest project started in the first days of the Super City so there was a lot to cover and many people to acknowledge.   There are many elements to the project including restoration of the tukutuku panels, a new artwork by Lisa Reihana and the naming of the 5 rooms in the centre. I didn’t want to miss anything out.

I spoke after the Mayor Phil Goff and Andrew Melville (great nephew of Ellen Melville)

In recognition of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori I started with a mihi and tried to incorporate reo into my speech.

Tēnā koutou e ngā rau Rangatira mā e huihui mai nei

E nga matua a Matt raua ko Bob, nāu nei tā tātou karakia, mihi mai rā ki a koutou

E te Whare e tū nei,

E ngā pātū tukutuku,

E te wāhi taonga nei nā Ngāti Whātua,

E ngā Mana Whenua me ngā Matāwaka,

E ngā tohunga toi a Lisa rāua ko Graham,

E te Koromatua,

E ngā hau e whā

Ka mihi whānui ki a koutou katoa, Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

Greetings to everyone gathered here today.  I acknowledge this place where we stand and the Ellen Melville centre in the heart of te rohe a Poari o Waitematā.

Thank you matua and Ngāti Whātua Orakei for leading the welcome and honouring us with your presence. I acknowledge mana whenua, the Melville whanau and all the dignitaries.

Thanks to this amazing gathering of people for joining with us and my fellow board members Deputy Chair Shale Chambers, Adriana Avendano Christie, Richard Northey, and Rob Thomas together with former Board members Greg Moyle and Deborah Yates

This is a very proud day. We are about to cut the ribbon on the Board’s biggest project that we’ve been working on since day one of the Super City.

There are many people to thank and many significant elements of the project that I would like to acknowledge.  Following on from the Mayor’s words about Freyberg Place (acknowledging the design by John Reynolds) I’d like to add an acknowledgement for the innovative children’s consultation undertaken by Karen Witten and Penelope Carroll from Massey University. Thanks to feedback from Aira, Angeline, David, Dustin, Elizabeth, Fergus, Jaden, Jennifer, Jessica, Julian and Scarlett –changes were made to the design to add play features like stepping stones and a climbing tree (located right behind us).

I am of course also delighted to see in the design heaps of bike parking where previously there was none.  And all the drinking fountains so there is no need to buy plastic water when visiting the city centre.

As we’ve heard the hall was originally proposed by Ellen Melville prior to WWII as a centenary project – marking the 100 years of the signing of Tiriti o Waitangi –  but work didn’t get underway until the late 1950’s. Inside you’ll be able to see a number of interpretation panels with the history of the hall (thanks to Heritage NZ and Beth Connor for this work) . Yesterday on a pre-view tour I read that the total cost of the hall completed in 1962 and opened as the Pioneer Womens and Ellen Melville Memorial Hall was 56,200 pounds. Raised with a 30,000 pound donation from the Queen Street Business Association (forerunners no doubt to Heart of the City represented today by Viv Beck) 19,000 pounds from the Council and 8,000 pounds raised by 64 women’s organisations.   I acknowledge our funders today.  The City centre targeted rate payers – businesses and residents who have funded the square upgrade and Auckland’s ratepayers for funding the hall upgrade.

We can thank the Auckland City Chief Architect Tibor Donner for the splendid modernist design.    Many of you here will be old enough to remember the hall with a crèche, meetings rooms and excellent public toilets – vital to women visiting the city centre.

However, despite a well-intentioned and creative redevelopment in 1996 the hall was unloved by the end of the old Auckland City Council’s stewardship.  It was hard to access and not open to the public. There wasn’t even a sign in the window advising how to book the hall.  The downstairs two rooms on High Street and the main room on Freyberg Place were leased out.

From day one the newly formed Waitematā Local Board, led by Shale Chambers set about transforming the hall into a welcoming community hub for city centre residents and the wider community.

At the time the population was at about 20,000. Today almost 50,000 residents call the city centre home (ten years ahead of projections) so a community centre is essential.  It is great to see so many of the residents here today, representatives of the Auckland City Centre Residents Group and the RSA Metropolis – our nearest neighbours. This is an Auckland project that has actually anticipated growth rather than reacted to it!

I’d like to acknowledge the Council staff from the Arts Community and Events Department, Local Board services team and consultants who supported the board’s plans from the earliest days.

Strachan Group Architects wrote a creative design solution report in 2012 that captured the opportunities to upgrade the hall to a first class inner city community facility. It included a heritage assessment written by Salmon Reed Architects. In May 2013 the budget was approved by the governing body.  I acknowledge the Councillors here (Cathy Casey – looking at you!) today who were part of that decision making and we must of course thank former Mayor Len Brown for backing our project – one of the few significant local Board projects to make it through the budget cuts that year.

Once the funding was secure we embarked on the restoration that has revealed a rich history.   Thanks to Andrew for sharing with us the story of his Great Aunt, [ the first female Auckland City Councillor].   It wasn’t until I heard Sandra Coney speak at the heritage festival last year that I came to appreciate the impressive qualities of Miss Melville and her progressive legacy to Auckland.

The Hall has been renamed in her honour as the Ellen Melville Centre.   We’ve also had the privilege of naming all the rooms in the centre in recognition of significant women recommended by the NCW Auckland Branch.

The urban lounge downstairs is officially the Helen Clark Room.  We also have the Eleitino (Paddy) Walker Room,  Elizabeth Yates Room, Betty Wark Room and Marilyn Waring Room.  We endorsed the ‘hall space’ in the Ellen Melville Centre as Pioneer Women’s Hall. Thank you to Christine Caughey and Carol Beaumont who led that work.  Apologies that the opening has coincided with the NCW conference in Christchurch but I acknowledge the NCW representatives and PACIFICA group women here today.   We look forward to celebrating together at the community day later in the year.

Within the Pioneer Women’s Hall are Tukutuku panels presented to the New Zealand Pioneers’ and Descendants’ Club by Mr and Mrs Eruera Stirling for the opening of the Pioneer Women’s Hall in 1962.  The Ōrākei marae weavers have restored the patu Tukutuku for the opening Centre.    Thank you to the Stirling whanau, Ngati Whatua and Peter Tilley the Council’s collection services manager (Arts Community and Events Team)   .

The renovation has not only breathed life back into the original features of the hall – including the James Bowie sculpture commissioned for the opening in 1962 that was being used as a door stop – but provided an opportunity to give life to new works.  Thanks to a commission by the Public Art team we have a new artwork Justice by Lisa Reihana located on the O’Connell Street wall. Lisa’s first bronze sculpture.

I’m going to use Lisa’s words to give justice to Justice . Justice is bronze sculpture floating above an exuberant abstract wall drawing, Justice commemorates Ellen Melville – politician, women’s advocate and pioneer. The scales of justice make reference to her illustrious legal career of 37 years. The bronze forms the centrepiece of the façade; it’s a strong, singular form with gentle curves. The whimsical abstract wall composition has a ‘50s feel, taking its cue from the Parnell Baths mural by James Turkington. The Parnell Baths were also designed by council city architect Tibor Donner.

Thank you Lisa for honouring the centre with your stunning work and thanks Mark Osborne for the support of the public art team.

While the centre restoration has preserved and enhanced the modernist heritage features like the door handles on the reinstated entranceway the centre has a modern refurbishment including a new commercial grade kitchen, improved amenities, new audio visual system and café-style seating. In line with our commitment to accessibility all areas of the centre are now fully accessible with the installation of a new lift.  Thanks to Be.accessible and Vivien Naylor for your guidance.

Of course it is not just the physical facilities but the kaupapa of the building that the Board wants to get right from day one.  We have a vision that the Ellen Melville Centre is a thriving community hub that serves the local City Centre residential and wider community by providing a place for gathering and building connections, information exchange and community participation in a range of activities. It is a place where all members of the community feel comfortable and welcome. .  The Board has resolved to support a fully staffed council governed and managed zero waste facility with transition to community managed after three years.

Thanks to our partners –   Splice, the Inner City Network, Waitematā Youth Collective, Auckland City Centre Residents Group and Heart of the City who worked with us on the kaupapa.

This is story of wahine Toa .  The pioneer women both Māori and Pakeha who made a considerable contribution to the foundation of Auckland.  The women who fought for equality and the right to vote.  Courageous Ellen Melville who’s portrait is on display for the first time. The significant NZ women acknowledged with rooms in the Centre.  Throughout  the project and into the future the Waitemata Local Board doesn’t want to lose sight of the central role of women and the significance of the centre as a place for women.   It was only fitting that the project was driven by a team of female project leads.

Our huge thanks to them and all the project team from key consultants  Isthmus Group, Stevens Lawson Architects, MPM Projects and JFC Limited contractors working with Corbel Construction and the artists were John Reynolds, Lisa Reihana and Graham Tipene.  With a support team from Beca, Matthews & Matthews Architects Ltd, Holmes consulting group, Ecubed and Plan. Heritage.

I’m going to read all the names out so please come forward.   Homai te pakipaki for:

Lisa Spasic,  Karina Mascarenhas , Gary McShane, Mark Bramely, Les Lewer, Sarah Bishop, Travis Wooller, Yvette Overdyck, Elspeth Gray,  Nicholas Stevens, Nathan Farrant, Tony Munro, Cherie Armer , Vanya Toso , Aaron Hansen, John Reynolds, Lisa Reihana, Graham Tipene, Rodrigo Salas, David Saechao, Mark Kessner, Antony Matthews,  John Brown

Before I make my concluding remarks  I have a very special acknowledgement.  Lisa Spasic, who has worked her guts as the Council’s Senior Project Leader.  She has hardly slept this week getting everything perfect. (Adriana presented Lisa with flowers on behalf of the Board)

I appreciate I have been speaking for some time .  I hope you agree the whole herstory needed to be told and the many people thanked who have been part of the journey.  We know it has not always been easy through the design process, securing the funding, the consultation and construction. Thanks to Shale and those who set the course and all those who have seen the project through. We now have a shining jewel in the city centre that we wish to be inclusive and welcoming for everyone.

Now all that is called for is for us to cut the ribbon and Lisa to hand over “her baby” to Leesa Tilley, centre manager so we can open the doors on a new chapter for the Ellen Melville Centre in the heart of Tamaki Makaurau.

No reira

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

Additional thanks

Ateesh Patel & civic events team for organising the opening, Frith Walker, MC for the civic opening, Barbara Holloway & Activation team from the  Auckland Design Office

Related reading

Ancient lava flow inspires Freyberg Place design

Women take the lead on city centre development

A jewel for the city centre Auckland Council media release and video of the refurbishment 

Auckland civic space opens after mayor upgrade, NZ Herald

Photos of the event

 

 

Major package of walking and cycling improvements underway

West Lynn shops Richmond Road planned walking and cycling improvements

Waitematā is set to be the big winner from a significant package of walking and cycling projects that are underway or about to start. Once complete we can look forward to a range benefits flowing to the whole community.  A large part of the focus is on connecting the places people wish to go; shops, schools, places of work and community facilities. Contractors have already started work on a separated cycleway and footpath upgrade that will connect Surrey Crescent to Pt Chevalier via Garnet Road, and to the Grey Lynn Greenway via Richmond Road.

Stage 2 of the Franklin Road upgrade is also underway including new footpaths and cycle lanes on both sides of the road that will connect Ponsonby Road to the planned Midtown cycleway at Victoria Park.   A project on Great North Road between Crummer and Ponsonby Roads, will bring in improvements for pedestrians, those on bikes and bus users.  The Karangahape Road enhancements project includes a separated “Copenagen” cycleway and significant streetscape improvements.

This all means that by 2018 new travel opportunities will have opened up via a connected and safe network.  The “network effect” is already achieving results.  Additional connections in the cycle network have created a 44% increase in people on bikes using the Northwestern Cycleway and a total of 45,600 new cyclists in 2016.  There is growing demand from a majority of Aucklanders to cycle (and walk) if the conditions are right.

The funds for these projects comes from a combination of investment by NZTA, Auckland Transport and the government’s Urban Cycleway Fund and is expected to be about $200m over three years.  It is great value for money for ratepayers who contribute $1 for every $2 from the government. In addition, the City Centre targeted rate is part funding the K’rd project.

However, the changes do bring a period of inconvenience and concerns from businesses and residents along the routes.  In West Lynn I’ve been attending meetings organized by a group of retailers who have come together to work with Auckland Transport to minimize impact from the construction and improve access to parking for the shopping precinct as a whole. I’m on the Community Liaison Group, established by Auckland Transport to continue engaging with key stakeholders through the delivery of the Franklin Road project and to address issues like safety.

There is now compelling data to show that Waitematā will reap big rewards from investment in walking and cycling.  Everyone benefits from slower speeds, safer streets, less pollution, fewer health costs and less congestion, when leaving a car at home becomes more of a viable option for more people.    A recent study from the UK of a quarter of a million people, found that cycling to work is linked to a lower risk of developing cancer by 45% and cardiovascular disease by 46%.  There is also a direct link between safe, active transport and economic prosperity.    Recent research indicates that in Auckland a 1% increase in city centre walkability leads to a $43m increase in localised GDP.   We want to ensure these impressive results also extend to our town centres and local shops.

For more details of the walking and cycling programme, visit Auckland Transport’s website: at.govt.nz/cycling-walking.

Ponsonby News column September 2017