The Super City turns 10

I’m happy to admit to having been a Super City sceptic.  In the lead up to the forced amalgamation 10 years ago of Tāmaki Makaurau’s eight councils into Auckland Council I had become active in community-led development.  The governance structure for the new body, with the majority of council business driven by Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs), didn’t appear to sit well with local decision making and sustainable community building.  If there had been a referendum, I’m sure I would have joined the majority of Aucklanders in voting “no” to a Super City.

10 years on I’m convinced the Super City has been for the best.  It shifted the strategic planning up a gear and made it possible to transform Auckland into truly international city.  It brought to an end the many, and often expensive, conflicts between the former councils and the old Auckland Regional Council and set the foundation for bold action and a united vision for the region.  Grass roots decision making has been able to flourish via local boards who are funded to make things happen within their communities.  This is particularly satisfying for the parts of the city neglected by their former councils.

However, throughout the 10 years I have been on Auckland Council, first as a local board member and since October 2019 as the Councillor for Waitematā and Gulf ward, I’ve consistently felt uneasy and frustrated with the CCO model.  It has been difficult to justify the lack of real control by democratically elected decision makers for over half of council’s operational budget when many of the promised benefits of CCOs have failed to materialise.

Over the years I’ve got to know Auckland Transport (AT) especially well because one of the reasons I put myself forward for public office in the first place was to make Auckland a great place to cycle as part of a sustainable, safe, healthy, connected city.   The stars seemed to align with funding, political backing and broad community support almost from the get-go.  The CCO model should have allowed AT to focus on delivery without operational interference from politicians.  However, it has been painfully slow going and AT’s approach to consultation has pleased no one.  So much of what the local board achieved in my time – greenways, traffic calming, pedestrian safety, street trees – was despite AT rather than as a result of AT operating as a CCO.

The review of Council’s CCOs by an independent panel led by Miriam Deans released on 11 August found many of the ways to improve the model, accountability, and culture of CCOs hiding in plain sight.  The report is written in plain English, the recommendations are easily digestible and make sense.  The review has forced the Auckland Council “family” to collectively reflect on our role in making the governance structure work effectively for Aucklanders.

The panel found the CCO model is overall fit for purpose but needs to be strengthened using many of the tools and mechanisms available.   It established that there’s significant room for improving the council’s relationship with and oversight of the CCOs.  One of the key recommendations is for AT to urgently review how it designs, consults on, funds and implements minor capital works.   These kinds of projects have been the source of much of my own frustration in dealing with AT and led to public criticism of CCOs being “out of control”.

On 27 August Auckland Council’s Governing Body agreed unanimously to progress all 64 of the panel’s recommendations. This includes agreeing to the merger of two CCOs—Regional Facilities Auckland and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development into a single entity to be established by 1 December 2020.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the Super City I’m looking forward to the reset provided by the CCO review. I don’t think implementation will be as simple and straightforward as presumed by the panel due to the deep rooted cultural and systemic shakeup needed.  Nonetheless, I’m hopeful that the implementation of the recommendations will be a circuit breaker to move beyond the scapegoating of the Super City and its CCOs so we can focus on achieving the best from all parts of Auckland Council.

First published in Ponsonby News October 2020

Councillor monthly report July 2020

General update

At the CRL event on 23 June to mark the start of works on the underground Aotea Station

This is my Councillor report covering the period from 8 June – 7 July.  It has been prepared for the July business meetings of the Aotea Great Barrier, Waiheke and Waitematā Board Local Boards.

The purpose of my report is to detail my main activities and to share information with the local boards in my ward regarding governing body decisions, my attendance at events and meetings, regional consultations, media updates and key issues.

Positions

  • Deputy Chair, Environment and Climate Change Committee
  • Co-Chair, Hauraki Gulf Forum
  • Member, Auckland City Centre Advisory Board (ACCAB)
  • Board Member, LGNZ National Council
  • Member, Auckland Domain Committee

Summary

  • As NZ moved to Alert Level 1 on 8 June a phased re-opening of council facilities was able to happen more quickly. Meetings are now all in person but with more flexibility to join by Skype.
  • As of 6 July, water levels in Auckland’s nine water collection dams remain at a record low, sitting at 55.8 per cent. Water restrictions continue.
  • From 30 June most of Auckland’s city centre moved to a speed limit of 30km/h
  • Consultation on the Emergency Budget closed on 19 June. The budget has been my main focus as the Governing Body works towards the decision making meeting on 16 July.
Governing Body meetings – Key decisions

The minutes for all meetings are available on the Auckland Council website. The following is intended as a summary only.

On 9 June Governing Body held a confidential meeting to appoint the new CEO.   The successful candidate has yet to be announced (updated: the CEO announcement was made on 17 July).

On 11 June the Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee approved the initiation of a comprehensive review of the Regional Parks Management Plan 2010.

On 18 June the Finance and Performance Committee approved Auckland Museum’s amended Annual Plan and Levy for 2020/2021.

The committee also approved the proposed amendments to the Local Government Funding Agency legal documents and Foundation Policies.

On 25 June Governing Body received an update from Watercare on the water shortage and agreed to waive resource consent fees for residential rainwater tank installation.

The committee also amended the standing orders to allow elected members to attend electronically if they prefer to, but without voting rights.

The governing body agreed to urgently contact central government to request an announcement on shovel ready project funding be made prior to our emergency budget decision making on July 16th.

On 2 July the Planning Committee approved several private plan changes in Drury East and Whenuapai.

The committee also approved the preparation of Spatial Land Use Frameworks for the Kumeu-Huapai and Wainui Silverdale Dairy Flat areas and established a Political Working Party to approve the draft frameworks for consultation.

Other key meetings and events

In the period 8 June to 7 July I attended:

with CRL CEO Sean Sweeney and the Mayor at the tree planting on Albert St
  • Event with the Mayor to mark the planting of native trees as part of CRL works along Albert Street. Eight trees were planted over the week, with a total of 23 trees (Totora, Golden Totara, Pohutukawa, Black Maire and Puriri) planned as part of CRL’s Contract 2 works
  • Ports of Auckland Community Reference group meeting held via Zoom on 10 June
  • Dawn blessing and opening by the PM of Commercial Bay on 11 June
  • Black Lives Matter rally on 14 June
  • On International Day of Justice for Cleaners and Security Guards, joined the Mayor to receive a petition and deputation from supporters of Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand
  • At the opening of Commercial Bay with the PM, Mayor Goff, Hon Phil Twyford and Cr Darby

    Women in Urbanism emergency budget discussion on 15 June

  • Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 16 June and the Aotea Great Barrier Local Board meeting on 23 June
  • Presented to Westhaven Rotory’s breakfast meeting on 23 June
  • CRL event on 23 June to mark the start of works on the underground Aotea Station
  • ACCAB workshop on 23 June
  • On International Day of Justice for Cleaners and Security Guards, joined the Mayor to receive a petition and deputation from supporters of Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand

    Grey Lynn Business Association networking event on 25 June at Malt bar

  • Media briefing for the Safer Speeds rollout on 29 June
  • A low key opening of the new high canopy primate habitat for orangutans and siamangs at Auckland Zoo
  • KBA convened meeting to discuss Karangahape Road/ Auckland Street Whanau issues and responses.
  • Panel member for Bike Grey Lynn’s Quick Smart speaker series on 28 June
  • Sam Judd farewell from Sustainable coastlines on 3 July
  • NZ Trio concert Origins at the Concert Chamber on 6 July (this was the first live performance at the Town Hall post lockdown)
  • Piki Toi exhibition opening on 6 July at Merge Cafe
Other matters

Emergency Budget 2020/2021 

Consultation on the Emergency Budget ended on 19 June.

During the consultation period I participated in three online community webinars.  A Have your Say event for regional stakeholders was held on 10 June.

A record 34,000 submissions were received through the three weeks consultation period.

The budget and consultation were in response to the financial impact of COVID-19.   At the start of the consultation the forecast shortfall in revenue was of more than half a billion dollars over the next financial year.

Unfortunately, it is likely a further $224m needs to be found for Watercare measures to increase the supply of water in the face of the worst drought ever experienced in the city. This number is higher than the estimate provided in the draft emergency budget documentation and places further pressure on the council.

A series of workshop are underway to discuss the feedback and all elements of the budget leading up to the final decision on 16 July.

Safe Speeds

At Auckland Transport’s media briefing to unveil the new signage with Cr Darby and Rodney Local Board member Louise Johnston

From 30 June most of Auckland’s city centre moved to a speed limit of 30km/h (the current 10km/h combined pedestrian and vehicle zones will remain). Speed limits on Hobson, Fanshawe and Nelson streets will be reduced to 40km/h instead of 30km/h.

This is a major milestone since Auckland became a Vision Zero region last year. Rodney Local Board member Louise Johnston.  (Attachment 2:  Opinion piece:  Together our streets can be safer)

Innovating Streets

The temporary COVID-19 works installed in the northern end of Queen Street were planned to undergo some refinement over the week beginning 5 July.  These improvements are based on feedback received from businesses and residents to make the purpose of the new spaces clearer for users and improve the overall appearance of Queen Street.

Later this month, the ‘Access for Everyone’ pilot for the Waihorotiu Queen Street Valley will begin through a co-design process, which will test new ways to lay out Queen Street prioritising space for pedestrians. Access for buses, emergency and service vehicles will be retained, while non-essential traffic will be discouraged.  The pilot is funded from NZTA’s innovating streets fund and the City Centre Targeted rate.  (Attachment 3: Our Auckland Access for Everyone Pilot to begin on Queen Street)

 

Emergency Budget 3.5% rates rise decision

On 16 July Auckland Council’s Governing Body voted 18 votes to 3 to adopt the Mayoral Proposal for the Emergency Budget 20/21  based on a 3.5 % rates rise (after it had been recommended from the Finance and Performance Committee chaired by Cr Desley Simpson).

The full resolution is as follows: 

That the Governing Body:

a)      receive the Emergency Budget Mayoral Proposal in Attachment A of this report.

b)      agree that the Emergency Budget (Annual Budget 2020/2021) be based on a package including:

i)       an average general rate increase of 3.5 per cent

ii)      an increase to the Uniform Annual General Charge of 3.5 per cent

iii)     continuation of Long-term Differential Strategy

iv)     no changes to Regional Fuel Tax, Water Quality Targeted Rate and Natural Environment Targeted Rate

v)   final budgets for 2020/2021 as set out in the staff report under the 3.5 per cent rates increase option, modified as follows:

A)including additional budgets for Watercare in 2020/2021 of $224 million capital expenditure and $15 million of operating expenditure to respond to Auckland’s drought situation, noting that Watercare will mitigate $121 million of the impact that this will have on group debt

B)updating revenue and funding projections as a consequence of Waka Kotahi fully funding public transport shortfalls from July to December 2020 and confirmation of $98 million of government funding for fully or partially funded transport projects

C)including an additional group-level budget provision of $98 million of additional transport and three waters capital expenditure in 2020/2021 that is assumed to be fully funded by central government, subject to further information about the projects being received

D)noting the $20m reduction to the budget for 2021 Events including America’s Cup

E)noting the reinstatement of $10 million to decrease the proposed reduction in public transport services

F)increasing the target for asset recycling in 2020/2021 by an additional $20 million

G)including $40 million of additional Auckland Transport capital expenditure enabled by the $15m public transport subsidy from Waka Kotahi in 2020/2021 for road safety and death and serious injury reductions, reinstating asset renewals, and project development work

H)including the reinstatement of $3 million funding for Locally Delivered Initiatives (LDI)

I)noting the removal of “Animal shelter consolidation” from the list of parent operational savings to be made in 2020/2021

J)including the reinstatement of $450,000 funding to ensure library hours are not reduced

c)       agree, having had regard to the matters set out in section 100(2)(a) to (d) of the Local Government Act 2002, it is prudent to not balance the budget for the 2020/2021 financial year.

d)acknowledge the record breaking 34,915 pieces of feedback received from the public during the consultation process in May and June 2020.

e)acknowledge and thank Local Boards, Council Controlled Organisations and the Independent Māori Statutory Board for their collaboration and input into the Emergency Budget.

f)note the Emergency Budget includes over $200 million of savings and cost reductions for the council group; which includes a reduction to staff numbers.

g)note that the introduction of the ‘Postponement of Rates for Ratepayers Impacted by COVID-19 Scheme’ will offer support to ratepayers who are financially affected by COVID-19.

h)note that the Auckland Council group will continue to deliver a capital investment programme of over $2.5 billion in FY2020/2021 which will contribute to Auckland’s recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic

Notes for my speech to the Finance and Performance Committee meeting in support of the 3.5% budget package

In speaking in support of the 3.5% package and the resolutions before us I would like to start by acknowledging how we find ourselves with a massive hole in council’s revenue  (Note * $475m plus $224m for water infrastructure to respond to the drought) and considering for the first time ever an emergency budget.  As of yesterday there were over 13.5 million infections of coronavirus and almost 600,000 deaths.  The stats will include my mum’s older sister who died overnight in South Africa of the virus. The pandemic is raging outside our boarders.   It is a situation none of us could have imagined when we started this fresh term back in November and the biggest crisis at the time was the Sky City fire!

Fortunately in Aotearoa, thanks to impressive leadership, informed by science, and a team of 5 million coming together we are in the strongest possible situation.

The phenomenal lockdown response highlighted the best of council and the value of the services and facilities we provide.  We’ve seen food packages distributed, the vulnerable housed, vital supply lines maintained to the Gulf islands, 15,000 calls made to seniors at home by re-deployed library staff, and essential workers provided with transport (further details here of council’s covid-19 response) .  This work continues, for example, at the central library there is now a health service available to rough sleeps who find the library a place of manakitanga . This is only possible through valuable partnerships that have grown stronger through the crisis with Marae, community groups, and NGOs such as the City Mission and Lifewise.

The valued role of council has come through in the submissions on the budget (consultation summary here). There is concern about the impact of cuts on Auckland’s ability to recover at a time when we need investment, jobs and to build community resilience.  The feedback we have heard is very much framed I think along two alternative options in responding to the crisis – an austerity approach or an investment budget .

I can totally understand the wish to see rates cut. There a strong sense of anxiety, of difficult personal circumstances and the hit to household incomes as a result of covid-19.    There are historic inequalities and iwi grievances that this budget doesn’t address.

It is also very difficult to explain why, at a time of economic uncertainty and potentially a serious recession looming,  council needs to put up rates when everyone else is belt tightening.  However, the part of the story that doesn’t hit the headlines is that we are playing catch up on infrastructure investment that didn’t happen to match Auckland’s growth due to historically artificially low rates – especially in the old Auckland City Council area – for example we can’t ignore that the reason there is poo in the harbour is due to chronic under investment because of a failure to plan for the future by previous councils.

I’ve read and heard a lot of anger directed at council.  There is lack of trust that we need to address and a perception that the super city has failed.  I’m sorry for the staff who had to read the vitriol in some of the submissions in part whipped up by a dishonest campaign based on misinformation.   The campaign has actually been counter productive because it hasn’t led to constructive feedback.  There are lots of references supporting cuts to “Vanity” projects, “pet” projects, and getting back to “core” business but without providing details of what is non-essential. The “town hall” rich list campaign based on inaccurate information distorted the debate on the budget.

[Note*: Commentary about overpaid staff isn’t accurate. With an asset base of over $50 billion, Auckland Council is a very large organisation second only to Fonterra on a national scale. Less than 1% of staff earn over $200k.  Comparisons made between the council and the private sector are not always relevant, but it is worth noting that senior staff who have come from executive roles in the private sector have taken significant reductions in salary to work at the council. The mayor and deputy mayor have taken a voluntary 20% salary cut, and councillors have taken a 10% cut. Many of our staff have also taken voluntary salary cuts. Recruitment is taking place only by exception, and restructures are resulting in redundancies across the organisation.  1100 contractors roles have already been reviewed and the emergency budget is going to result in hundreds of job losses ].

Many of those arguing for a rates freeze or a lower rates rise in their feedback were actually asking for a 3.5% package of services and for council to continue to play a role in the covid-19 recovery and improving community well being.  This is what came through strongly from the local boards who were unanimous in supporting 3.5% and referred frequently to the key budget considerations/principles that the Mayor spoke of and in particular protecting the most vulnerable. They are on the ground with their communities and understand the hardship that will be caused by aggressive cuts.  For this reason I support the reestablishment to local board of their discretionary budget (known as Locally Driven Initiatives – LDI budget) . They can act nimbly and responsively to community needs though grants, environmental programmes, events and extended hours and programmes at valued community facilities.  Huge credit to you madam chair for bringing the local boards along on the emergency budget journey right from the earliest days of our Skype meetings in lockdown.   As has been said it has been the most collaborative co-governance process ever and you have done a superb job.

In taking into account the feedback  it also needs to be emphasized, while acknowledging the huge effort to collate 34k submissions, that there is a gap in the consultation summary.   The submissions from organisations have been lumped together and counted individually if identified as “regional” rather than as a stakeholder or mana whenua group.    There is in fact strong support for a 3.5% package proposal from diverse groups across Tamaki Makaurau  – faith groups, sports and environmental organisations, residents associations, service clubs, unions, arts and culture organizations and business associations – collectively representing hundreds of thousands of members.

If I have any misgivings about the budget is that in responding to an emergency we haven’t achieved a strategic reset, there is a tendency to fall back on business as usual rather than building back better and a push to side line our climate initiatives as a “nice to have” rather  integral to the council’s crisis response to avoid an even worse emergency.

I also find it hugely frustrating that cycleway projects have been deferred that Auckland Transport should have delivered 3 years ago from funding first announced when John Key was PM – that sure feels like a life time ago! These projects shouldn’t even be part of this discussion.

But overall there is a lot to support as a package developed in very difficult circumstances. I thank the Mayor for protecting the new budget for reducing council’s green house gas emissions, living wage and our homelessness response.   I’m pleased that we have additional budget for road safety and that there is scope for the work programme to be further tweaked and reviewed on the way through if additional funds become available.  I also heard Auckland Transport confirm that they are committed to taking a more innovative approach.  I hope that carries across the council whanau in all our programmes.

I believe we have a strong mandate for what is before us taking into account the feedback, the views of local boards, all the financial information and the updated information we have received on the expenditure required to respond to the drought.  We’ve found considerable reductions to expenditure including cuts to staff numbers are already underway – and I acknowledge how difficult that is .  I think we have taken the right approach targeting support for rate payers facing financial hardship (through the rates postponement option) rather than an across the board rates cut that would have led to dire consequences.  The budget takes the investment approach to the post covid recovery rather than austerity [Note*: The 2020/21 capex budget (pre-Covid-19) was set at a record $2.6 billion. To help us remain fiscally prudent in the face of a projected $500 million revenue shortfall and retain community and investor confidence in our financial position, one of the measures we consulted on was smaller capex programme of $2.3 billion. However, by working through our budget and collaborating with central government, it is likely we will have the capacity to increase this back close to previously planned levels so that we can keep the economy moving forward and supply the assets that Aucklanders require, including drought related works. Reducing our investment program would only drive the economy deeper into recession.]

Going into the long term plan / 10 year budget  (a process starting in only a few weeks)  I wish to see us not lose momentum on work to build community health, well being and resilience. If this has been an emergency budget  the next one – the LTP must be a climate action budget.

I’d like to end with a quote that is attributed to Joe Biden but is said by city leaders around the world:

Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value

Thanks to everyone for their hard work.

The alternative – cuts under a 2.5% rates increase budget package 

Three Councillors voted against the budget package based on a 3.5% rates increase. They didn’t put up any alternatives.  A budget based on a 2.5% rates increase would have significant cuts including:

  • cuts to library hours
  • cuts to road safety projects
  • hundreds of additional job loses
  • a 20% cut to the local boards’ discretionary budget
  • charging at Park & Rides
  • higher public transport fares
  • removal of the evening peak concession for gold card users
  • significant deferral of projects such as track upgrades and playground renewals
  • reduced open space maintenance standards through reduced footpath cleaning, closing some public toilets and removing litter bins to reduce emptying costs.
  • cuts to local board One Local Initiative (OLI) projects including Waiheke Local Board’s Matiatia project

Further reading:

Radio NZ : ‘We had to slash our spending’: Auckland Council cuts jobs, defers projects

Our Auckland: Auckland Council endorses Mayor Phil Goff’s Emergency Budget proposal

Todd Niall in Stuff:  Auckland Council budget: Rates up 3.5 per cent and more than 500 jobs to go

NZ Herald: Auckland Council approves ’emergency budget’, passes a 3.5 % rates rise and restores library cuts

Our Auckland: Deputy Mayor praises leadership

How Auckland’s rates rise compares

  • 3.8 per cent proposed increase in Hamilton City,
  • 4.1 per cent decided by Dunedin City
  • Tauranga’s proposed 4.7 per cent.

*Notes taken from  Auckland Council’s Emergency Budget – The Facts by the Deputy Mayor, Bill Cashmore in response to the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance campaign “Is the Council really ‘cutting back’ or is the Mayor telling porkies?” circulated before the vote.  For a copy please email me on pippa.coom@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

Together we can make our streets safer

In uniting against Covid-19, Aucklanders stayed home, stayed safe and went out of their way to be kind.  Local trips during lockdown for exercise and essential travel were on relatively quiet, stress-free roads. Low traffic volumes allowed Aucklanders to reclaim their neighbourhoods and gave many the confidence to take to walking and cycling.

We have an opportunity to embed this kindness into our collective culture; and extend it to our behaviour behind the wheel. The changes coming on 30 June 2020 will make for permanently safer streets for everyone and build on the enthusiasm for active transport.

New speed limits in the city centre from 30 June 2020

On this day Auckland Transport will roll-out safe new speed limits around the region designed to stop people being killed or seriously injured on our roads. In the first phase, more than 600 self-explaining and high-risk roads will have new and safe speed limits.

From 30 June 2020, most of Auckland’s city centre will have a speed limit of 30km/h (the current 10km/h combined pedestrian and vehicle zones will remain). Speed limits on Hobson, Fanshawe and Nelson streets will be reduced to 40km/h instead of 30km/h. In addition, AT will implement engineering treatments on these arterials to protect vulnerable road users like people walking and cycling.

Slower speeds in the city centre will create a safer environment for everyone and complement the initiatives already underway to create a people focused city centre.  Auckland is falling into line with international best practice and joining communities aspiring to a transport system where nobody dies if someone stuffs up.

Setting safe speeds is one the quickest and cost-effective ways to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

The work towards the roll out of lower speed limits began with the Auckland Council Planning Committee’s September 2018 resolution requesting Auckland Transport to accelerate the road safety and speed management programmes and seek input from partners to make Auckland a Vision Zero region.   In September 2019 Auckland Transport’s board approved the Vision Zero strategy for the Auckland region.

This was a major milestone that I had worked towards with many other road safety advocates advocates including Living Streets Aotearoa, Bike Auckland, Brake NZ the road safety charity and NZ School Speeds.  Sweden may have followed a fatally misguided response to Covid-19 but when it comes to a different kind of crisis Sweden’s Vision Zero road safety strategy, first introduced in 1995, has proved successful as a pathway towards eliminating road trauma. Vision Zero is an ethics-based approach that puts human life ahead of any other benefits and has now been adopted around the world.

Road crashes will happen but what we need to do is to make them “survivable” when people inevitably make mistakes. Survivable means that people involved in a crash should be able to walk away rather than be carried away by first responders.

No matter what causes a crash, speed is the undeniable factor in whether a crash is likely to occur and whether it kills or seriously injures those involved.   Evidence also shows that for every additional kilometre of speed, the chances of getting involved in a fatal crash are at least four times greater.

The benefits extend beyond lives saved.  Safer speeds are a pro-community and pro-business response. Lower speed limits have the potential to improve traffic flow, improve fuel efficiency, reduce pollution and noise. Fewer severe crashes mean less time delays and decreased business interruption.

Speed limit reductions are only one part of a package of measures that what will make our neighbourhoods more liveable, equitable, healthy and safe. We need to continue investment in road safety treatments, driver education that entrenches a “be kind” approach to everyone on the road and walking and cycling infrastructure to incentivise choosing active transport

30 June is an important date for Auckland. It marks the next stage of our journey to making our roads and streets kinder and safer for everyone.

 

A version of this article appeared in the July Ponsonby News

 

 

Councillor Report April 2020

This is an extraordinary Councillor report covering the period from 13 March 2020 until 20 April.  It is prepared for the Waitematā Local Board business meeting to be held on 5 May.

The purpose of my report is to provide an update on the key governing body decisions as the Covid-19 crisis escalated and during the lockdown as well as my focus during this time as Councillor.

Auckland Council’s response to the Covid-19 crisis

Following the WHO declaration of an official pandemic on 11 March the first indication of the seriousness of the situation was the need to cancel the Pasifika Festival on 13 March due to concerns about the risk of the virus spreading into the Pacific. As more cases were confirmed Auckland Council closed pools, libraries, galleries and other community facilities on 20 March.  The next day the Government introduced a four-level alert system to help combat Covid-19. The Prime Minister announced New Zealand would go to Alert Level 4 at 23.59 on 25 March 2020. A state of emergency was declared putting the country into lock-down for a minimum of four weeks.   People were told to stay home to save lives and only go out for essential work, supplies and local recreation.

It is an unprecedented situation that is evolving every day as we get to grips with the new “normal”. First and foremost, Council is taking the advice of the Ministry of Health, which is leading New Zealand’s Covid-19 response.

Essential Council services continue including storm water infrastructure repair and maintenance and water treatment, animal welfare management, biosecurity and hazard monitoring., Auckland’s kerbside rubbish and recycling are considered essential services and will continue as usual. Unfortunately, there is currently no market for recycled paper so temporarily it will be going to landfill (paper and cardboard can still go out in the recycling bin). The inorganic collection has been postponed.

Over 300 Council facilities have closed including recreation centres, pools, community centres. Parks and reserves remain open for local recreation but playgrounds and recreational facilities in parks are closed. Most public toilets are closed although some remain open for essential workers and rough sleepers.

Auckland Libraries e-lending services like audiobooks, video streaming services and learning databases like Lynda.com continue to be available for free and have been extended. Library fines for overdue books have been suspended and gym memberships are on hold.

Road maintenance undertaken by Auckland Transport is considered an essential service so continues during the lockdown. However, this is being limited to only that maintenance required to keep the network safe and operational during this period.

Council staff have been deployed to help Aucklanders experiencing hardship as a result of the lockdown. Deliveries of essential supplies including food and toiletries began on 1 April via an 0800 22 22 96 phone number provided for those needing assistance with accessing essential supplies (the service also covers Aotea Great Barrier and Waiheke islands).

Auckland Council and homeless agencies have been working together to ensure there is accommodation, food and essential support available for rough sleepers.

The Our Auckland website was transformed quickly to provide a one stop shop for all Auckland Council related Covid-19 information.  Just before the Easter break a further plea was made to boaties to not visit the islands against level 4 lockdown rules. While New Zealand Police and other agencies have reminded boaties to stay off the water during the lockdown, unfortunately some have still been visiting Aotea Great Barrier.

Local board chairs supported by local board members have been on the front line dealing directly with a range of challenging issues in their communities especially at the outset of the lockdown.  I have been in regular communication with chairs in my ward and available to follow up on issues as requested.

An emergency management fund established on 24 March was accessed quickly to guarantee one flight per day to Aotea Great Barrier to ensure essential services, products and workers continue to be available to all residents.  A service for essential supplies was also put in place for Rakino Island.

Work is underway to identify potential cuts to expenditure required due to the substantial reduction in non-rates revenue caused by the recession. Steps have already been taken to reduce spending on external contracts and contract staff in non-essential services, as part of plans to manage the financial impact of COVID-19 (Refer Attachment 1 regarding the Annual Budget 20/21).

On 17 April the chief executives of council and its five council-controlled organisations announced they will take a pay cut of 20 per cent for the next six months.  In addition, board chairs, directors and senior executives have volunteered a range of reductions.

Regular Covid-19 briefings for councillors have been held since 18 March.   At the time of writing the Prime Minister has announced that Alert Level 4 has been extended until 11.59pm on Monday 27 April. Council’s focus over the next week will be to work through what moving to Alert Level 3 means for the organisation and the additional services it will be able to provide. Planning for the post Covid-19 recovery is also underway.

Governing Body meetings

The minutes for all meetings are available on the Auckland Council website here.

On 19 March the Finance and Performance Committee meeting received the Auckland Council Group and Auckland Council quarterly performance report for the period ended 31 December 2019;  a Financial update on current status due to Covid-19 as an extraordinary item, and a presentation from the  Eden Park Trust Board noting the uncertainty of future financial projections due to Covid-19. (this was the last meeting with all members in attendance at the Town Hall prior to lockdown)

 On 24 March, an extraordinary meeting of the Governing Body met to discuss Governing Body decision-making continuity during the COVID-19 response period. It was agreed unanimously that members could attend any meetings of the Governing Body or it’s committees by audio or audiovisual link, and be counted as present, during the COVID-19 response period.

A temporary Emergency Committee of the whole of Governing Body was established with a quorum of 2, with others participating via audio link, which meets weekly and includes 2 members of IMSB.  All functions and powers of the Governing Body have been delegated to this committee other than those in Audit and Risk.

We also agreed to establish a COVID-19 contingency fund of $22.5 million for any urgent expenditure required to respond to the pandemic or its impacts.

Following this meeting Governing Body members had to quickly adapt to skyping into meetings, and although there have been a few teething issues, in general the process is working well to maintain good governance.

 On 26 March Governing Body met and endorsed the proposed membership for the Heritage Advisory Panel and the updated terms of reference. 3 items were deferred, being Referred from the Audit and Risk Committee – Health, Safety and Wellbeing Update – emerging risks and issues, Summary of Governing Body information memoranda and briefings (including the Forward Work Programme) – 26 March 2020 and Review of remuneration of independent members of the Audit and Risk Committee which included a report in the confidential section.

On 2 April the Emergency Committee met with all members attending via electronic link.  The meeting considered 2 items of extraordinary business.  The meeting delegated all emergency powers and roles to the Group Controller and ratified all decisions made by the controller since declaration of a state of emergency.  We were also provided with a report on activities undertaken by council to support the wider community in response to Covid-19.  A verbal update was provided on the Summary of Infrastructure criteria for “shovel ready” projects announced by Government.  Reappointment of board members to City Rail Link Ltd and Haumaru Housing was considered in the confidential section.

On 9 April the Emergency Committee received a written and verbal briefing from Ian Maxwell, Director Executive Programmes and Kate Crawford, Group Controller, Auckland Emergency Management.  We unanimously approved Auckland Council’s list of ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure projects and programmes to be submitted to Crown Infrastructure Partners Ltd and delegated the final priorisation of 20 projects to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, IMSB Chair and four Councillors.  (the final list of 73 ‘shovel-ready’ projects submitted to CIP was announced on 14 April)

We also discussed the Healthy Waters southern and regional maintenance contracts in the confidential section

 On 14 April an Extraordinary Audit and Risk Committee met via electronic link.  Members were briefed on the COVID-19 pandemic and Auckland Emergency Management status and received two confidential updates on the approach to risk management and assurance activities, and the approach to identify and manager financial risks.

On 16 April the Emergency Committee received a verbal briefing from Ian Maxwell, Director Executive Programmes and Mace Ward, Group Controller, Auckland Emergency Management. Representatives from the Taxpayers Union and the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance presented in public forum.  Cr Darby introduced an extraordinary item regarding Auckland International Airport share purchase plan.  Members agreed 18-5 to seek a report looking at improving the council’s oversight of the airport company, including whether as the biggest shareholder, it should seek to appoint a director.

Auckland Council’s submission on the Accessible Streets Regulatory Package was approved.

The confidential part of the meeting covered council’s Financial position and Annual Budget 2020/2021 Update.  Councillors were unanimous that the council needs to take decisive steps to reduce the pressure on residents and businesses facing economic hardship, while ensuring we can protect and maintain the essential services Aucklanders rely on.    It was agreed that another round of consultation including the option of limiting any rates rise to 2.5%. (Our Auckland:  Councillors agree rates support for Aucklanders)

Other meetings and events

As NZ moved to Alert level 2, I stopped attending events and meetings in person from 20 March. In the days prior to that I attended the Waitematā Local Board monthly business meeting and CCO Oversight Committee workshop with Auckland Transport on 17 March. The CCO update on Covid-19; Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee workshop on the proposed Burial and Cremation Act 1964 submission and the Planning Committee Briefing: Supporting Growth Alliance – on transport network proposals in greenfield areas on 18 March.

On 17 March I also spoke at the EV’s and Beyond Conference held on Waiheke in relation to Auckland’s commitment to the Climate Change Emergency.

I was interviewed by BfM on 19 March and 20 April for an item called “City Counselling” covering council’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, the Annual Budget, tactical urbanism and the Auckland Climate Action Plan work underway.

LGNZ’s National Council meeting in Wellington on 20 March was held via Zoom.  It was agreed to postpone the annual conference until 2021.

The weekly meeting with the Mayor for Chairs and Deputies of the committees of the whole has continued via Skype.  A fortnightly Auckland Transport catch up on ward issues has also continued during the lockdown.

Other matters

I worked with Cr Richard Hills, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee to seek the inclusion of a climate lens and other Auckland focused criteria to the prioritisation process for the “shovel ready” programme considered at the Emergency Committee meeting on 9 April  (letter attached here) .  I also submitted a spreadsheet of shovel ready projects for consideration which included local board projects in my ward.

The work of the Environment and Climate Change Committee has continued with briefings and catch-ups via skype.  The covid-19 crisis has had an impact on the timeline for Auckland’s Climate Action Plan but the current aim is bring the final plan to a committee meeting in July.

I have been working with the Executive Officer and Tangata Whenua co-chair of the Hauraki Gulf Forum to create a draft work plan for consultation with forum members ahead of the Forum meeting planned for 25 May.  We also wrote to the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group, Crown Infrastructure Partners regarding the shovel-ready projects and the Hauraki Gulf, Tīkapa Moana, Te Moananui-ā-Toi.

I provided feedback on Auckland Council’s submission on the Accessible Streets Regulatory package that went to the Emergency Committee meeting on 16 April. I am working with Cr Darby on progressing council and Auckland Transport’s response to NZTA’s Innovating Streets for People initiative and funding.  The programme supports measures that can quickly increase the amount of space available for physical distancing (photo right showing the use of “tactical urbanism” to create a cyclelane). I am also supporting Auckland Transport’s work to identify locations where measures can be put in place immediately to create more space for walking and cycling.

I think leadership on a pay cut is important when there is no doubt the economic downturn is going to hit hard across our businesses and communities. It is about acknowledging the pain and showing solidarity with those on the frontline of the crisis.   As the current legislation doesn’t allow for any Councillor pay cut to go back into the Council’s budget I will be donating an amount to charity in line with the pay cuts announced by the Mayor, other councillors and the executive leadership.  However, as I don’t believe any pressure should be put on low paid members or workers to take a cut I will keep my donations private.

I continue to be contacted by members of the public seeking reassurance and answers to a wide range of issues.

Report to the Waiheke Local Board meeting on 22 April is available here

Report to the Aotea Great Barrier Local Board meeting on 12 May is available here

Councillor Report March 2020

General update

  • My Councillor report, covering the period from 31 January until 29 February 2020, is prepared for the Waitematā, Waiheke and Aotea Great Barrier Local Boards’ March business meeting agendas.
  • The purpose of my report is to share key information with the local boards including governing body activities, attendance at events, conferences and meetings, regional consultations, media activities and ward issues I have been following up on. I also declare all gifts in my report regardless of value.

Governing Body and Committee meetings*

The minutes for all meetings are available on the Auckland Council website here.

Planning Committee on 4 February 2020

  • Approved Auckland Council’s submission on the Land Transport (Rail) legislation bill
  • Approved approach to the Auckland Council’s submission on the Urban Development Bill

Governing Body on 12 and 27 February 2020

  • Adopted the Draft Tūpuna Maunga Operational Plan 2020/2021
  • Adopted the consultation material and supporting documentation for Annual Budget 2020/2021
  • Adopted the amendments to the Revenue and Financing Policy
  • Approved the draft submission to the Justice Committee’s inquiry into the 2019 Local Elections and Liquor Licensing Trust Elections, and Recent Energy Trust Elections
  • Approved the submission on funding options for Fire and Emergency New Zealand

CCO Oversight Committee on 18 February

Received the updated report on the CCO Review work programme and requested the report be circulated to local boards

Auckland Domain Committee on 25 February

  • Requested staff explore costs and possible funding to implement recommendations in the master plan
  • Requested staff investigate options to meet the shortfall for the Accessible Improvement Programme (aiming to improve walking and cycling in the Domain)

*Note: This is not intended to be a complete summary of all governing body and committee meetings. Refer Auckland Council’s website for full details

Hauraki Gulf Forum

  •  The Hauraki Gulf Forum is a statutory body, which promotes and facilitates integrated management and the protection and enhancement of the Hauraki Gulf, under the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000.
  • Hauraki Gulf Forum members are representatives of the Ministers of Conservation, Fisheries and Māori Development, elected representatives of Auckland Council (7 in total including representatives from Waiheke Local Board and Aotea Great Barrier), Waikato Regional Council, Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Waikato and Matamata-Piako District Councils and 6 representatives of the tangata whenua of the Hauraki Gulf and its islands appointed by the Minister of Conservation.
  • At the first Hauraki Gulf Forum meeting of the term on 17 February the historic decision was made to adopt a co-governance model with co-chairs (one elected by all forum members and one co-chair recommended by the tangata whenua representatives). I was delighted to be elected one of the co-chairs.
  • The ‘State of our Gulf 2020’ report released on 27 February by the Hauraki Gulf Forum puts a spotlight on the ongoing environmental degradation facing the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. (Attachment 1: Media Release from the Hauraki Gulf Forum: The Hauraki Gulf is hurting and needs our help)

Events and other meetings

  • Attended a range of meetings with the Environment and Climate Change Committee Chair in my role as Deputy Chair
  • First Mayor and Councillors catch up of the year held on 3 February

    I attend a weekly chairs’ catch up with the Mayor and a fortnightly Mayor and Councillors catch up

  • I have a fortnightly meeting for transport updates relating to ward issues
  • Attended the LGNZ National Council meeting on 10 February and the Metro Sector meeting (as alternate to the Mayor) on 14 February
  • Attended the Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 18 February to give my Councillor’s update
  • Met with the Chair of the Environment and Climate Change committee to finalise the Council’s submission on the Reducing waste: A more effective landfill levy paper
  • On Friday 21 February I hosted a Councillor “clinic” on Waiheke with booked appointment times including meeting Cycle Action Waiheke (photo below), caught up with the Waiheke Community Art Gallery Director, enjoyed a delicious Kai Conscious Cafe lunch, got taken on a site visit to the WWII lookout and historic buildings, popped by the Whitaker’s music museum (gate crashed MP Nikki Kaye’s meeting!) and wrapped up the day meeting local board chair Cath Handley.
  • The Auckland City Centre Advisory Board meeting on 26 February confirmed Heart of the City’s CEO Viv Beck as chair
  • Met with the CCO Review panel on 28 February
  • Throughout the month I meet constituents on request and request a range of meetings to follow up on issues raised with me.

I also attended the following events:

  • Official Opening on 4 February of Te Ipu Kōrero o Maungawhau and Whau Cafe on Maungawhau / Mount Eden hosted by the Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority (photo right with Councillors Bartley, Filipaina and Casey and members of the Authority)
  • Waitangi Day ki Ōkahu 2020 festival hosted by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei
  • Farewell reception for Stephen Jacobi from New Zealand China Council at the Northern Club on 10 February
  • Scales to Tails dinner hosted by Peter Gordon at the invite of The Sugar Club and Ōra King
  • Whales Tales Auckland 2021 launch at the Auckland Art Gallery on 11 February
  • Wynyard Quarter Celebration hosted by Willis Bond & Co on 12 February
  • Opening by the PM on 13 February of Te Whare Hīnātore, City Mission’s new transitional housing programme, assisting wāhine experiencing homelessness
  • Minister of Transport Phil Twyford, the Mayor and elected representatives

    Sod turning for the portal where the boring machine will launch to build the City Rail Link tunnels connecting Mt Eden Station to the new Aotea Station (photo right)

  • Opening night of Roger Hall’s play Winding Up at the invitation of Auckland Theatre Company on 13 February
  • Sod turning for the start of the Tamaki Drive cycleway on 16 February (photo right the Mayor and Minister of Transport Phil Twyford with the spades)
  • Waitematā Local Board’s Myers Park Medley festival on 16 February
  • Opening of the Auckland Fringe Festival 2020 on 17 February at Caluzzi Cabaret
  • Launch by the Mayor of City Hop’s EV vehicles at the Crowne Plaza on 20 February
  • Auckland Museum Medals on 26 February
  • Media briefing for the release of the State of the Gulf report by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage MP and two of the authors. The report is a major piece of work led by the former Hauraki Gulf Chair John Meeuwsen and Deputy Chair Moana Tamaariki-Pohe.
  • Participated on the panel of the Auckland Conversations “Gift of the Gulf” at the RNZYC on 27 February (photo right)
  • A walk of the Waitematā Local Board boundary on 29 February with Living Streets Aotearoa’s Andy Smith, continuing the tradition of starting the new term with Beating the Bounds – a walk of the boundary to ensure neighbouring local boards haven’t “encroached” over the last three years and to check out projects along the way. I walked with local board members until the point on Newton Road (photo right) where my ward boundary diverges and then walking the shared Ōrākei boundary with Cr Desley Simpson to Tamaki Drive
  • Ponsonby Road Street Festival on 29 February
  • Mayor Phil Goff, Sir Bob Harvey, Covert Theatre Trustee Mike Hutchinson and founder Wade Jackson at the opening of Covert Theatre, Ponsonby

    Opening Covert Theatre at the invitation of The Yes and Trust

Regional grants

The Regional Event Fund and the Regional Community Development Grants were allocated at the Parks, Arts, Community and Events committee on 13 February.

Regional consultation topics

  • The Annual Budget 2020/21 consultation started on 21 February and will continue until 22 March. Have your save events are being held across the region.
  • The independent panel appointed to review how well Auckland Council’s CCOs are working is hosting drop-in sessions across the region so Aucklanders can provide their feedback into the review. Consultation on the review closes on 22 March.
  • The engagement and consultation documents are available at akhaveyoursay.

Significant issues and ward issues (as at 29 February)

Leys Institute Library Building

  • In response to a planned “save the Leys Institute building” protest on 26 February I provided this update:

I appreciate the considerable concerns regarding the sudden closure of the much-loved Leys Institute buildings and the desire to see the restoration happen as fast as possible and library services resumed.

I am not able to attend the protest but want to provide a reassurance that I am not aware of any part of council that considers demolition to be a viable or desirable option for a class A scheduled building (even if it were possible under the Leys bequest) .

The report on the options will be going to the local board in June.  I am absolutely committed to the restoration of the building and the return of library services (temporary services are due to open in mid-March at 14 Jervois Road).  My role is to work with the local board to ensure the project secures what is likely to be a considerable budge, from the governing body (Councillors and Mayor).

On-going water issues during the dry weather

  • The lack of rainfall over summer has been particularly hard for Aucklanders on tank water. Updates have been provided regularly on the support available during the dry weather.
  • Watercare is monitoring water levels and reports that, with nearly 65 per cent storage in its dams, the municipal water supply is stable. It is running a campaign to remind customers to be waterwise during dry periods when demand is high.
  • An advice brochure for tank owners is being distributed via council’s community networks and is available to download from OurAuckland.

 COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

The Mayor has been in regular contact with the Director General of Health and is providing regular updates. Since the first case arrived in New Zealand the main message is that Aucklanders should be prepared but should not panic – they should take sensible measures and contact health officials if they are worried:

    • There is no reason for people to change the way they go about their daily lives
    • The first case is being well managed, and the patient is in a stable condition
    • Ministry of Health and the airport are moving to meet everyone coming off flights to give people information on what to do should they feel unwell

Transport

Together with the Local Board transport portfolio lead Graeme Gunthorp I have been following up on a number of transport issues that I would like to see Auckland Transport resolve including:

  • Car transporters unloading illegally on Great North Road
  • Enforcement of car parking on berms and on footpaths. I dispute AT’s position on this issue and do not agree that signage is required before AT can take enforcement action.
  • East bound bus lanes on Customs Street that are needed as a result of the ongoing closure of Lower Albert Street.

The positive resolution by Auckland Transport of issues I have raised on behalf of constituents includes:

  • confirmation that traffic calming on Clifton Road is going ahead as part of the Herne Bay walking and cycling project
  • the installation of new safety barriers on the Westerns Springs Shared path (photo right)

Media

  • I was quoted in the Hauraki Gulf Forum media release: The Hauraki Gulf is hurting and needs our help
  • My regular Ponsonby News column was published in the March edition
  • I wrote an OpEd for the NZ Herald about the positive side of seeing so many orange road cones in Auckland. Humble orange cone means the future is coming  (Our Auckland version)

Disclosures

There are no gift disclosures this month.  Invitations to events are all noted above.

 

Orange road cones show Auckland is getting stuff done

OPINION  first published in the Herald NZ on 26 February (premium content) with the heading:  Humble orange cone means the future is coming

Quietly, over the past six years, Willis Bond & Co has been building a new neighbourhood of award-winning apartments at Wynyard Quarter. Private investment has followed the public spend to create people-orientated spaces designed for modern urban living. This “placemaking” includes wide footpaths, new plazas and parks, rain gardens, activated event spaces and lush ngahere.

I was fortunate to attend a recent celebration hosted by managing director Mark McGuiness to welcome the new residents and thank those involved in the development. Inevitably, the conversation turned to Auckland’s prolific orange road cones.

Orange cones have become a convenient focus of rage for some commentators in Auckland.

In McGuiness’ view the cones are a positive symbol that the city is getting stuff done. They show progress is underway, and the city is improving after decades of under-investment, poor planning and short-sighted decision-making.

I think of it as Auckland moving from a town with a cowboy mentality focused on short-term gains, to Tāmaki Makaurau, a truly international city with a uniquely indigenous point of difference.

Auckland Council is making progress on the things that matter for our city. We’re working to stop poo from entering our harbour and we’re getting on with essential work such as improving our ferry infrastructure and ensuring the Quay St sea wall doesn’t collapse.

We’re delivering new public spaces and creating the right conditions for new residential, retail and office investment. I don’t think it makes sense for any of this construction to be slowed down or stopped.

New Ferry Basin public space “Te Wananga” due for completion in December 2020

When the cones are removed from Quay St a stunning street will be revealed; one that will never go back to a four-lane road. Just as other international cities have embraced their waterfront, Quay St, together with a new downtown square, will be our welcome mat for international events happening in 2021. Slow speed, pedestrian-focused environments will become the new normal in our city centre.

It is time for Aucklanders to move on from the myths that “public transport is rubbish” and “no one uses cycle lanes”. All the evidence (that could fill a separate column) points to the opposite.

We are no different to people in other international cities. We embrace the most convenient, reliable and affordable transport option. We jump on bikes when we feel safe. We shop, relax, linger and spend in inviting places where people – not cars – are king.

Wynyard Quarter was the “guinea pig” for perfecting placemaking in Auckland, but this best-practice approach is now spreading benefits across the city.

It is also time to drop “CBD” and instead refer to it as the city centre as it has a growing residential population, with more than 33,000 people already calling it home.

The work symbolised by the humble orange cone work will benefit not just the residents I represent, but all Aucklanders, because a functioning, thriving city centre is good news for our region and our country.

Our city centre generates a fifth of Auckland’s GDP and more than 130,000 people work there.

Our biggest infrastructure project, City Rail Link, will double the number of people who live within 30 minutes of the city centre when it opens in 2024.

Along with our construction partners, we have to do more as a council to share the vision of what is happening in the city centre so Aucklanders can see the wider benefits. We need to ensure traffic management is exemplary, projects are coordinated and efficiently managed, and that businesses and residents are looked after through the construction. We must help all those who need to travel into the city regardless of transport mode.

Collectively as Aucklanders, we’ve got to put the orange cone “chaos” into perspective. When I recently missed an early morning flight it wasn’t cycleway construction that delayed me getting to the airport. It was the traffic I created, other traffic on the road, and a minor crash. These types of delays are so commonplace Aucklanders consider this a “normal” inconvenience.

I agree with McGuiness that we shouldn’t turn orange road cones into the enemy. When the first stage of Wynyard Quarter opened in August 2011, Aucklanders were amazed at the welcoming transformation and flocked to the waterfront. As parts of downtown are completed and pedestrians are welcomed back, I have no doubt that we’ll get the same reaction.

Delivering people-friendly, safe and vibrant environments continues not just in downtown but across the city. We can all feel proud at the stuff that is getting done. The future is in progress.

• Pippa Coom is an Auckland Councillor for Waitematā and Gulf Ward.

Councillor Report February 2020

General update
  • This is my first Councillor report for 2020 prepared for the Waitematā, Waiheke and Aotea Great Barrier Local Boards’ February business meeting agendas.
  • It covers the period from 25 November 2019 until 31 January including the summer break.
  • The purpose of my report is to share key information with the local boards including governing body activities, attendance at events, conferences and meetings, regional consultations, media activities and ward issues I have been following up on. I also declare all gifts in my report regardless of value.
Governing Body and Committee meetings*

Governing Body committee met on 26 November and 12 December (photo right of Councillors at the Aotea Square Christmas tree on our way to the final business meeting of the year at the Town Hall). Highlights include:

  • agreed the terms of reference for the Council Controlled Organisations Review
  • approved allocation of the Auckland Council governance remuneration pool
  • approved terms of reference for the Joint Governance Working Party and Te Tiriti o Waitangi / Treaty of Waitangi Settlement Working Party
  • adopted the GB meeting schedule from 2020 -2022
  • agreed process for appointing the next Auckland Council CEO (appointment to be made by end of 2020)
  • Unanimous support for an extraordinary item regarding the bus drivers dispute (reported on below)

The first Environment and Climate Change committee met on 29 November

  • approved the grant allocations for the 2019/2020 Regional Environment and Natural Heritage Grant programme funding round
  • allocations for the 2019/2020 Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund, September 2019 funding were considered in confidential

The first Council Controlled Organisation Oversight Committee met on 12 December to receive the first quarter reports of the substantive council-controlled organisations and approve the proposed content for inclusion in their 2020/21 letters of expectation.

A minute’s silence was observed at the beginning of our Finance and Performance Committee led by Cr Desley Simpson on 10 December to pay tribute to all those affected by the awful tragedy on Whakaari /White Island.

*Note: This is not intended to be a complete summary of all governing body and committee meetings. Refer https://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/ for full details

Events and other meetings
  • A range of briefings have continued for the Environment and Climate Change Committee Chair and Deputy Chair
  • In my role as committee Deputy Chair I attend a weekly chairs catch up with the Mayor and a fortnightly Mayor and Councillors catch up
  • I have a fortnightly meeting for transport updates relating to ward issues
  • On Friday 29 November I hosted my first Councillor “clinic” on Aotea Great Barrier with booked appointments times
  • Meeting on 6 December with councillors Barley and Casey and First Union to discuss the bus drivers dispute.
  • MUNZ meeting on 9 December with the automation working group of the International Transport Workers Federation
  • Cr Hills and I met with Milag San Jose-Ballesteros, Regional Director For Southeast Asia And Oceania, C40 to discuss climate change action on 21 January. C40 Cities is an organisation working with 96 City Councils across the world to work on positive opportunities to reduce carbon emissions and protect our communities.
  • Meeting on 22 January convened by the Mayor regarding Fuller Ferry cancellations (reported on below)
  • City Centre network meeting at the Ellen Melville Centre on 23 January
  • Tour of Aotea Great Barrier (north part of island) with the local board on 27 January (photos right)
  • Waiheke Local Board business meeting on 28 January
  • Environment and Climate Change Committee: Political Working Group meetings to finalise Council’s submission on the Reducing waste: A more effective landfill levy paper

I also attended the following events:

  • Vision Zero celebration at Auckland Transport on 25 November
  • 100 years of Zonta International celebration dinner on 25 November hosted by the Zonta Club of Auckland at the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron. Zonta’s mission is empowering powering women through service and advocacy.
  • Friends of Sustainable Coastlines celebration on 27 November
  • Museum Board Chair Orchid Atimalala, Deputy Chair Tarun Kanji and Director Finance Jignasha Patel

    Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland Museum 90th birthday celebrations on 27 November.

  • Ceremony for the 40th anniversary of the Erebus accident at Government House hosted by the Governor General where the PM and the Chair of Air NZ gave a wholehearted apology to the families for the actions of the government and airline following the disaster that claimed 247 lives. I’m sure that nothing can fully heal the loss from the tragedy for the families and those impacted by Operation Overdue but this apology is long overdue. I hope now we can also move ahead on a fitting Erebus Memorial.
  • NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards gala dinner on 28 November at the invitation of Waste Solutions. Auckland Council, TROW and Green Way won the Partnering for Good category for the demolition of the Masonic Lodge in Salisbury Reserve (a project initiated by the Waitematā Local Board)
  • Met with the Inspirasi Indonesian Young Leaders delegation (photo right with Cr Hills and Laila Harre) and spoke on the topic of the Role of Local Government and how to engage communities to be sustainably resilient
  • Visited Great Barrier on 29 November to hold a Councillor clinic to meet locals, did an interview with Aotea FM (photo right with Toni and Tony from Aotea FM) and meet with local board members
  • Raise up Leadership grad dinner at Eden Park on 30 November at the invitation of YMCA
  • Hyundai World Championships powhiri and opening ceremony on 1 December
  • Franklin Road lights opening on 1 December (photo right with local board member Graeme Gunthorp)
  • Grey Lynn Residents Association AGM at the Grey Lynn RSC
  • Farewell for Marguerite Delbet as Council’s General Manager, Democracy Services after six plus years at the helm
  • Auckland Art Gallery’s 2020 programme launch on 3 December
  • Whakawātea for Luna Rossa / Prada bases, America’s Cup on 4 December (photo right)
  • Women in Leadership afternoon tea hosted by the Mayor’s office
  • LGNZ strategy day in Wellington on 5 December
  • LGNZ National Council meeting on 6 December
  • The official party for the citizenship ceremony L-R Deputy Chair Waiheke Local Board Bob Upchurch, Kaumatua Bob Hawke, Kaumatua Alec Hawke, Richard NortheyChair Waitematā Local Board, and new citizen Kiri McCutcheon who works at Auckland Council

    Citizenship ceremony at the Auckland Town hall on 9 December

  • Ports of Auckland community liaison group Christmas drinks on 10 December
  • Morning blessing on 17 December led by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei for the start of the St Mary’s Bay water project that will dramatically reduce contamination going into the Harbour (photo right). This significant project is funded from the water quality targeted rate and delivered by Watercare and Healthy Waters (Auckland Council) with Auckland Transport improvements included as well
  • End of year afternoon tea hosted by the Mayor on 17 December
  • Late Night Christmas event organised by Heart of the City on 19 December
  • Community celebration lunch at Ellen Melville Centre on 20 December
  • Waiheke Ostend Market zero waste stall volunteer on 21 December and 17 January (photo right)
  • I took a Christmas break from 20 December until 13 January
  • I joined the Mayor and Panuku on
    Tour of Wynyard Quarter Developments with Mayor Goff

    15 January for a tour of Auckland’s Waterfront Precinct and Wynyard Quarter as well as a look at the new Willis Bond apartment development on Madden Street, the Park Hyatt Auckland site (photo right in hard hats) and a visit to Emirates Team New Zealand.

  • Enjoyed a session at the ASB Classic tennis at the invitation of ATEED and a chance to meet the tournament director Karl Budge
  • Urban Nerds AKL – special guest appearance by Greg Vann on 23 January
  • Moira Lawler’s farewell as CEO of Lifewise held at Merge Café on 23 January
  • Supported the Mayor at the SeePort festival opening on 25 January
  • International Buskers Day Festival opening on 25 January at the invitation of Crackerjack productions
  • On behalf of the Mayor addressed the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day event hosted by the Holocaust Centre of NZ at the Mt Eden Memorial Hall (Photo right and speech Attachment 1)
  • State of the Nation presentation with the PM and lunch on 30 January at Sky City Convention Centre at the invitation of Business NZ
Regional consultation topics

In December the Mayor’s proposal for the Annual Budget 2020/21 was agreed to go out for consultation on 21 February.  The proposal is about showing leadership on climate change as well as continuing to invest strongly in infrastructure and services, and readying Auckland for the international spotlight in 2021, when the city hosts the 36th America’s Cup, APEC, Te Matatini and a range of other events.  I have reported on the main topics in my Ponsonby News column.

Regional grants

The Regional Environment and Natural Heritage Grant Fund and Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund applications were agreed by the Environment and Climate Change committee on 29 November.

Significant issues and ward issues  (as at 31 January)

New Network bus changes on Waiheke

Following the report that Hana Blackmore prepared for the local board highlighting deficiencies in Auckland Transport’s consultation and presentation of a petition, Auckland Transport agreed to put in place a temporary diversion for every second 50A bus service to loop through Ostend / Wharf Rd.  The use of services on these roads will then be assessed around March when AT undertakes the review of the New Network.

AT also reported that the New Network has significantly grown compared to the old network over the first eight weeks of operation – in average by +5% and more recently by up to +30% for individual weeks.  More people are using buses on Waiheke now than before. However, issues remain with a bus driver shortage.  I am also aware of continued concerns regarding the location of bus stops.

Leys Institute Library Building

Just before Christmas an operational decision was made to close Leys Institute Library and Gymnasium until further notice. A recently completed seismic assessment has found structural issues that make the buildings unsafe to occupy in the unlikely event of an earthquake.

This caused a lot of concern raised directly with me about the future of the buildings and the continuation of library services.  The local board has ensured that services will resume from March at 14 Jervois Road for at least the next three years and that the jobs of all library staff are safe.  In the meantime, the mobile library has been parking outside Leys Institute until the end of January

A report on the options for restoring the buildings will be going to the local board.

 Bus drivers dispute

 The bus driver dispute ended before Christmas following Auckland Council unanimously requesting Auckland Transport to work on finding a solution and signalled the need to find a long-term sustainable way forward to the poor pay and conditions. It was important to take a stand together as Auckland needs professional bus drivers who are well trained and can earn a living. Here is the resolution in full from the 12 December Governing Body meeting:

a) note with concern the industrial dispute affecting bus services and its impact on commuters, bus drivers and their families and potentially undermining a shift to use of public transport

b) request Auckland Transport to work with NZ Bus and the relevant unions to find a solution to end the current dispute

c) request Auckland Transport and the Chief Executive of Auckland Council to work on sustainable long-term solutions

d) request the Mayor to write to the Ministry of Transport on behalf of Council seeking urgency to be accorded to the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) Review to ensure that problems of recruitment and retention of bus drivers are addressed and a fair and equitable resolution is reached around drivers wages and working condition

Waiheke Ferry cancellations

On 22 January Mayor Phil Goff convened a meeting of Fullers, the Harbourmaster, Auckland Transport, the Ports of Auckland and elected representatives including Councillor Chris Darby, Chair of the Waiheke Local Board, Cath Handley and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye and myself. After the meeting the Mayor released the following statement.

“I made clear my expectations that recent ferry cancellations were unacceptable, and the causes had to be addressed collaboratively by the parties directly involved. The inconvenience caused to Aucklanders is not acceptable. I also made clear my expectations that I want to see this issue resolved as soon as possible,” Phil Goff said.

“The discussions were positive, and progress was made. I have asked for a working party to be convened urgently, chaired by the Harbourmaster, and involving Fullers, Auckland Transport, Ports of Auckland and the cruise ship industry.

“I have asked the group to address the following issues relevant to the cancellations:

  • whether the restrictions on cruise liner berthing currently from 7.30am to 9am can and should be extended
  • what the appropriate safety parameters are for ferries when cruise liners are berthing
  • the need for a better communication mechanism between the relevant parties.

“I have asked the working group to report back on these matters to elected representatives as soon as possible.”

Media

Conferences and seminars

Te kāwana ngātahi i a Tāmaki Makaurau ‘Governing Auckland together’ symposium was held for all elected members on 2 December.  The programme included:

  • Deputy Mayor gave the opening address on behalf of the Mayor
  • Chief Executive, Stephen Town address
  • Strategic briefing – overview of key strategic issues for Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
  • No point wasting a good crisis’ – an interactive future-focused session, looking at era scale change and connecting the future to actions in the present. This will be led by Dr Stephanie Pride
  • Closing remarks by board Chair Leumaunga Lydia Sosene
Disclosures

Since 25 November I have received the following gifts as well the invites noted above under events:

  • Out there SCAPE Public Art 1998 – 2018 a booked valued at $80 gifted by Warren Pringle

Councillor report December 2019

Pippa Coom Councillor Report – Waitematā and Gulf Ward

General update

  • This is my first Councillor report prepared for the Waitematā, Waiheke and Aotea Great Barrier Local Boards’ business meeting agendas.
  • It covers the period from election day on 12 October until 24 November 2019.
  • The purpose of my report is to share key information with the local boards including governing body activities, attendance at events, conferences and meetings, regional consultations, media activities and ward issues I have been following up on. I also declare all gifts in my report regardless of value.

Governing Body and Committee meetings

  • The Auckland Council governing body, made up of the Mayor and 20 Councillors, was sworn in at the inaugural meeting held at the Town Hall on 1 November. This was a ceremonial occasion with entertainment by the Chinese Blossom Arts Troupe, Auckland City Scoundrels and Sistema Aotearoa performing Maranga Ra composed by Rob Ruha (photo above taken by Ronald Andreassend:  the official party arriving for the inaugural meeting on 1 November held at the Town Hall).
  • Along with the other 3 new Councillors I gave my maiden speech to the governing body meeting on 5 November
  • At the governing body meeting on 12 November the committee structure and appointments were confirmed. I’m really delighted to be confirmed as:
    • Deputy Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee working with Chair Richard Hills (one of 4 committees of the whole plus all councillors are on the CCO oversight committee).
    • A member of the Appointments and Performance Review Committee
    • A member of the Hauraki Gulf Forum
    • Auckland Council representative on the National Council of Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ)
  • Induction for Councillors started on the 17 October and has continued with sessions on legal obligations, standing orders, finance for governing body members, and a range of briefings (photo right: Councillors were treated to lunch in the council café as part of the induction day)
  • The Mayor has introduced a fortnightly catchup with Councillors that started on 4 November with a discussion regarding the proposed CCO review. This review is strongly supported by all Councillors.
  • The new committee structure is in the process of being set up and a range of briefings have got underway. It has been confirmed that the Environment and Climate Change Committee will cover the following areas:
    • Climate change mitigation and adaption policy and implementation
    • Coastal renewals, slips and remediation
    • Auckland Climate Action Framework
    • Natural heritage (including ecology and biosecurity matters such as kauri dieback)
    • Protection and restoration ofAuckland’s ecological health
    • Water including Auckand’s Water Strategy
    • Waste minimisation
    • Acquisition of property relating to the committee’s responsibilities and in accordance with the LTP
    • Grants for regional environmental outcomes

The first meeting is scheduled for 28 November.

Events and other meetings

  • Over the course of one week I attended the three local board inauguration meetings in my ward as well as the inaugural meetings of the Albert-Eden Local Board, Puketāpapa Local Board and Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board. I had the opportunity for an initial meet and greet with the Waiheke Local Board before their inauguration meeting on 4 November. Photo right with the new Waiheke Local Board.  From the left Deputy Chair – Bob Upchurch, Cr Pippa Coom, Paul Walden, Kylee Matthews, Mayor Phil Goff and Robin Tucker, Front, Chair – Cath Handley
  • Photo with the new Aotea Great Barrier Local Board. From the left, Cr John Watson, Deputy Chair – Luke Coles, Cr Pippa Coom, Sue Daly, Chair – Izzy Fordham, Valmaine Toki and Patrick O’Shea following the inauguration meeting on 31 October
  • Photo left with the former Waitematā Local Board Chair Shale Chambers on the left and new Chair, Richard Northey in the middle, following the inaugural meeting of the Waitematā Local Board on 30 October.
  • At the Ōtara-Papatoetoe local board inaugural held at Ngā Kete Wānanga Marae on 5 November with Councillors Josephine Bartley, Cr Pippa Coom, Alf Filipaina and Fa’anana Efeso Collins
  • On 22 October I attended the Auckland Transport board meeting to support the decision on the bylaw which will reduce speed limits on around 10% of Auckland’s urban and rural roads. Following public feedback, most of Auckland’s city centre will have a speed limit of 30km/h (the current 10km/h combined pedestrian and vehicle zones will remain) apart from Hobson, Fanshawe and Nelson Streets which will be 40km/h with engineering treatments to protect vulnerable road users.
  • Auckland Transport elected member morning tea and introduction to AT on 1 November.
  • Meeting to discuss active modes programme with Bike Auckland representatives and Cr Darby on 14 November
  • Fortnightly transport updates relating to ward issues
  • On Friday 22 November I hosted my first Councillor “clinic” at the Waiheke Local Board officers (advertisement right). My first Councillor event on Aotea Great Barrier is scheduled for 29 November with time for booked appointments and an afternoon tea.

I also attended the following events:

  • Late Night Art on 14 October
  • AT Board Rotation farewell event for Lester Levy and Mark Gilbert on 22 October
  • Ponsonby Business Association AGM on 22 October
  • Opening of White & Wong restaurant in Newmarket on 23 October at the invitation of NBA
  • K’rd Business Association AGM on 24 October
  • TUIA 250 Ki Tāmaki Makaurau – Civic Reception at Maritime Museum on 25 October
  • Tour de Waiheke organised as part of the Waiheke Cycling Festival on 2 November (photo right)
  • St Marys Bay Association AGM on 6 November
  • Grey Lynn Business Association AGM on 6 November
  • K3 Legal event on 7 November in the Maritime Room
  • U2 concert and entertainment in the corporate suite at Mt Smart on 8 November at the invitation of Regional Facilities Auckland
  • Armistice Day Commemorations at Auckland Museum on 11 November
  • Ludo Campbell-Reid’s Poroporoaki (farewell) after 13 years championing urban design for Auckland Council on 11 November
  • Herne Bay Residents Association AGM on 13 November
  • City Rail Link tunnel stakeholder walk through on 16 November (photo right with Cr Richard Hills)
  • Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s The New Zealand Herald Premier Series Conflict & Triumph at the Town Hall on 14 November at the invite of Geraint A. Martin (Chairman) and Barbara Glaser (Chief Executive)
  • Parnell Festival of Roses hosted by the Waitemata Local Board on 17 November
  • Launch of the Viaduct Harbour Local Living Compost Hub on 19 November
  • A Gala Concert in the Presence of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to celebrate the launching of the new name of the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre at the Aotea Centre on 20 November (at the invitation of Regional Facilities Auckland)
  • Viewing of the PUSH movie (a gut-wrenching story about housing, injustice and those fighting for better housing at the grass roots) on 21 November at the Academy Cinema at the invitation of the Auckland Community Housing Providers Network
  • Attended the Kai Conscious lunch at the Waiheke Sustainability Centre on 22 November
  • Spoke at the opening of Tatai Whenua – TUIA 250 Encounters exhibition  at the Waiheke Community Art Centre on 22 November (photo right taken by Peter Rees, one of the artists in the exhibition)
  • World Premiere of My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak by Ahi Karunaharan at Q Theatre on 22 November at the invitation of Silo Theatre
  • Grey Lynn Park Festival on 23 November
  • Enjoyed the Santa Parade from the VIP area on 24 November with my 5 year old nephew at the invitation of the Auckland Children’s Christmas Parade Trust
  • 40th anniversary service of Air New Zealand flight TE901 in the presence of the Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy at Holy Trinity Cathedral
  • Pride Launch at the Auckland Art Gallery on 24 November

Regional consultation topics

Southwest Gateway Programme

  • There’s been a lot of debate about extending heavy rail to the airport. I make use of the service train that currently exists via Papatoetoe station (only $4.80 from Newmarket). From 2021 it is going to be even more straight forward with priority bus lanes from Puhinui station to the airport. Confirmation this work is going ahead means the debate is over about heavy rail all the way to the airport. Feedback on a range of projects within the Southwest Gateway Programme is open until 8 December.

OuterLink and 650 bus services

  • Consultation went underway on 11 November on proposed changes to some Crosstown services, including the OuterLink and 650 bus services.
    • The proposed changes should result in:
      • A more reliable OuterLink, with less bunching
      • A high frequency Balmoral Crosstown service, the new 65
      • Quicker journey times on the remaining portion of the OuterLink, with fewer (hopefully nil) timing points

Regional grants

  • The Regional Environment and Natural Heritage Grant Fund and Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund applications will be coming to the Environment and Climate Change committee on 29 November

Significant issues and ward issues

NZ International Convention Centre Fire

  • On 23 October, the day after the NZICC fire started I visited the Auckland Council’s Emergency Coordination Centre and was given a quick tour by Sarah Sinclair Acting GM, Auckland Emergency Management. The response to the NZICC fire was managed by Fire & Emergency but the centre sprung into action staffed by council volunteers to provide support across logistics, comms, welfare and health services.In the photo right I’m standing with Sarah in front of a big screen showing live footage of the roof of the convention centre with fires still visible.

Hardship fund for Albert Street businesses

  • I welcomed the news on 31 October that the Government and Auckland Council have brought forward work on establishing a hardship fund for businesses in Auckland’s Albert Street to recognise the difficulty some have faced because of the delay in City Rail Link construction. I have supported Heart of the City in advocating for this fund.

New Network bus changes on Waiheke

  • On 22 November I was taken on a tour by Sue Pawly and Hana Blackmore (in the photo right in a decommissioned bus stop in Oneroa opposite the library) who are campaigning to restore essential bus services that were removed by Auckland Transport following new network changes on Waiheke to introduce greater frequency to the timetable.  I am working with the Waiheke Local Board on this issue.

Helicopters on Sentinel Beach

  • The rebuilding of a boat shed on Sentinel Beach allowing for a helicopter landing pad has been a long running issue. Strong opposition was voiced at the Herne Bay Residents Association AGM to the use of helicopters especially in the coastal environment. I have been advised that there is currently no application for a helicopter landing pad on this property. If there is in the future it will be a non-complying activity and it is likely it will be fully publicly notified.

Tree removal by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority

  • I’ve received a number of queries regarding concerns about the removal of 345 exotic trees from Ōwairaka / Mt Albert. I’ve provided a response along the following lines:
  • 14 tūpuna maunga including Ōwairaka / Mt Albert and Maungawhau/Mt Eden are co-governed by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority established in 2014 following a treaty settlement.  I’m not on the TMA but I acknowledge and respect the authority of the TMA and I support their management plans for the tūpuna maunga after decades of neglect by former councils (providing a link to information about the Authority).
  • The Authority is focused on the long-term restoration of the maunga and is underway to plant many thousands of trees.  The TMA is following advice on the ecological best practice regarding which exotic and pest trees need to be removed as part of the plans and the removal methodology.  You might also be interested to read why the Tree Council support the plans. https://www.treecouncil.org.nz/press-statement-regarding-tree-removal-on-owairaka-and-other-maunga-from-the-tree-council/
  • As the Ōwairaka / Mt Albert tree work is being undertaken by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority which is independent of Auckland Council, it is appropriate for the Authority to answer questions about the detail of their vegetation management. You can email  the Authority at MaungaAuthority@aklc.govt.nz  . I also understand that no trees that are notable, protected or scheduled will be removed as part of the restoration plans.

Transport

  • I am also following up a number of ward transport issues including opportunities to extend the Herne Bay walking and cycling improvements project by leveraging work proposed by Healthy Waters and Watercare, safety on the Western Springs Shared Path, and paid parking on Ponsonby Road not working satisfactorily to encourage turnover due to the low hourly rate for all day parking.

Media

  • Since my election as Councillor I have been interviewed for Gulf News (Attachment 2), and the Barrier Bulletin (Attachment 3) and interviewed by Chris Walker on Waiheke Radio. I also have a regular column in Ponsonby news. My first column as Councillor was published in the November edition (Attachment 4)
  • I attended the media briefing for the High St tactical urbanism trial on 16 October and for the Mayor’s announcement of the new Committee structure and positions on 4 November
  • I was quoted in an Our Auckland story following the upgrade of Ellen Melville Centre and Freyberg Place project winning the Planning and Urban Design category in the 2019 New Zealand Architecture Awards

Conferences and seminars

ACENZ Panel discussion

  • On 15 October I was invited by ACENZ (Representing consulting and engineering professionals in Aotearoa) to be part of a panel discussion with Ida Dowling, Sarah Woodward and Alec Tang following a presentation by Auckland Transport CEO Shane Ellison on the Future Transport Challenges for Auckland

Trafinz Conference 2019

  • I attended the Trafinz (The New Zealand Local Authority Traffic Institute) 2019 conference in Hamilton on 12/13 November. I am on the Exec Committee of Trafinz. The conference theme focused on “Smart, safe and accessible places”.
  • Highlights from Wednesday’s programme included keynote sessions with Skye Duncan, the Director of the Global Designing Cities Initiative at the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), Putting people first: shaping urban streets for healthy and sustainable cities, Frith Walker, Panuku, Placemaking ‐if you are not doing it for people then you are doing it wrong and Prof Graham Currie, a renowned international Public Transport research leader and policy advisor from Monash university Transit fightback ‐ pushback on technology hype for stronger city futures
  • I co-hosted a Q&A panel  “bringing it all together” and provided the final thoughts on putting people first and roundup of the conference on behalf of Trafinz. I also got to announce that the conference next year will be in Auckland
  • My conference registration and one-night accommodation ($836) was covered by Auckland Council. I used a fleet car for transport to and from Hamilton

Disclosures

  • Since election day I have received the following gifts as well the invites noted above under events:
    • 2020 Calendar from the Moths and Butterfly NZ Trust (value unknown)
    • Sea Edge: Where the Waitemata meets Auckland coffee table book by Sir Bob Harvey (value $75)

Chair’s report: Reflections on the 2016-2019 term

This is my final report after nine years on the Waitematā Local Board.  I have reported monthly throughout my time on the local board.  This month I take the opportunity to provide my reflections on the 2016- 2019 term and to give thanks and acknowledgements. ( It is on the agenda for the final local board meeting for the term on 17 September 2019)

Since the local board’s establishment in 2010, for the first two terms under the leadership of Shale Chambers, we have put in place a clear direction for being an accessible, connected, sustainable, inclusive, vibrant local board area.  We have built a reputation for being an effective, collaborative, hardworking local board that takes our local responsibilities seriously, but always considers the bigger strategic picture.

The “Super City” governance structure was imposed on Aucklanders and came with ongoing concerns about what it would mean for local decision making and identity.  We have focused on making Auckland Council, together with the CCO’s, work properly and deliver for the community.  We can see the impact we have made across our responsibilities for local parks, events, arts and recreational services and facilities, community facilities, libraries, and environmental management. A key role of the local board is also place making and shaping responsibilities, which has required active involvement in wider transport and heritage, urban design and planning issues affecting the local level.

At times far too much energy has gone into “educating” all the parts of the council family about the governance structure and the role of local boards.  After nine years we have seen huge improvements but there is still more to do.  I welcome a proposed review of the Council Controlled Organisations next term.

It has been a real honour to Chair the local board for the 2016-2019 term and a privilege to represent the city centre and central suburbs of Auckland. We are the beating heart of Tāmaki Makaurau, the economic engine room of the region, and home to outstanding cultural, educational and arts institutions, and major events. It is an exciting place to live, visit, work, play and study. Our local board area is the front door for international visitors and increasingly the place to experience Māori culture in Auckland. It is home to vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods and a growing city centre population who are embracing urban living.

This report seeks to cover some of the highlights of what we have achieved this term. Shale, in his report, has comprehensively covered the 2010- 2013 and 2013- 2016 terms.  I’ve tried my best to capture as much as possible and to acknowledge everyone who has provided a huge amount of support and encouragement.  Apologies in advance if I have missed anything significant – at a certain point I had to bring to a close what was becoming a very long report!

A local board of firsts

Living Wage celebration with Mayor Goff who moved all council employees to a living wage on 1 September 2019

As a progressive board we are committed to social justice and have been willing to take risks and adopt policy often before any other part of council.  We are the first local board to approve an Accessibility Plan and a Low Carbon Community Action Plan.  We led the way in committing to a City for Peace, Smokefree parks and playgrounds, the Living Wage, to Auckland becoming a Fairtrade City and CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women).

And if agreed at our final meeting we will be the first local board to adopt a localised urban ngahere action plan, which is intended to deliver on Auckland Council’s Urban Ngahere (Forest) Strategy.

Community Engagement and Partnerships

We are fortunate to have very active, engaged community members.  Over nine years it has been a pleasure to build relationships, work with a wide range of community leaders and to seek out new ways of engaging and consulting to reach our diverse and growing residential populations. I made a point of reading every piece of feedback received by the board through the many consultation processes.

Our Local Board Plans 2011, 2014 and now 2017 have provided an opportunity to sweep up the community’s projects and initiatives to deliver on the priorities we have been told are important.  I have enjoyed taking an active role in the process of developing each plan.

A few highlights of our approaches to engagement include:

    • Beating the bounds a walk of the local board boundary at the beginning of each term (first initiated by myself and Andy Smith of Walk Auckland in 2011)
    • A one-off Pecha Kucha Town Hall edition that launched our 2014 local board plan
    • Taking part in Auckland Council’s first Facebook live engagement event with board member Adriana Christie as part of the Annual Budget consultation 2019/2020 (photo right)
    • Hearings style feedback sessions – we are one of the few boards to continue with this format
    • Taking consultation events into the community with co-hosted public meetings, library pop-ins and info stands at events

There is still more to improve engaging with the hard to reach particularly with city centre residents, residents with English as a second language and young people.

Kelmarna Gardens spring festival

Our partnerships have continued to flourish this term with established organisations and emerging ones.  As a former Trustee of Kelmarna Gardens I’m pleased to see how the board’s support has provided stability and allowed the organic farm to become more sustainable.

I’ve maintained close relationships with our well-run community centres – Parnell, Grey Lynn and Ponsonby and regularly attended the lively and informative Central City Community Network meetings funded by the local board.

Planning for the future

The drafting, consultation on and approval of development plans covering all our major parks and town centres has been a major focus of the board first initiated by Shale Chambers.  The plans guide renewals and planning to avoid ad hoc projects and investment.

Western Park news stairs opening

The value of development plans can be seen in places such as Western Park where we have ticked off nearly every project listed in the implementation plan as budget has become available including new lighting, new paths, upgrade playground, new boardwalk and stairs down from Hopetoun Street, new toilet block and new fitness equipment.  Further work is underway on a tree management plan.

Plans completed or underway include:

    • Meola Reef Development Plan
    • Western Springs Lakeside Park (to be signed off by the incoming board in February 2020)
    • Western Park Tuna Mau Development Plan
    • Point Resolution Taurarua Development Plan
    • Grey Lynn Park Development Plan
    • New paths in Symonds St cemetery

      Symonds Street Cemetery development plan (photo right: new paths in the cemetery)

    • Newmarket Laneways Plan
    • Karangahape Road Plan 2014-2044
    • Newton Eden Terrace Plan (2016-2046)
    • Ponsonby Road Plan 2014-2044
    • Parnell Plan

We were also only the second local board to develop a City Fringe Economic Development Action Plan in 2014 that was then further revised in 2017.

Iwi relationships and working with Māori

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Kaumatua Bob Hawke

Delivering on Council’s commitment to Māori at a local level is a priority for the local board.  I’ve worked to strengthen our iwi relationships.  I’ve particularly valued the constant presence during my time on the local board of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Kaumatua Bob Hawke and Matt Maihi who have led us through many significant opening and blessings.

For 2019/2020 we have allocated funding to a new programme called Te Kete Rukuruku, which aims to showcase the Māori history and stories of Tāmaki Makaurau. One element is to add names significant to Māori to local parks.

It was with great sadness that we heard the news that Dean Martin, Principal Advisor, Māori and Te Tiriti Relationships and Governance, Te Waka Anga Mua ki Uta passed away suddenly in April.  Dean provided steady guidance to the local board, led our visit to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Marae early in the term and wrote my mihi for the opening of Ellen Melville Centre.

The bigger picture

The local board has taken every opportunity to take a strategic view of national and regional issues. We are able to sustain a substantial output of work thanks to the portfolio structure (established under Shale’s leadership) that has allowed local board members to take responsibility for specific areas of interest.   In this term we have provided input into the following policies, bylaws proposals and plans:

    • QEII Square Private Plan Change
    • Auckland Plan Refresh
    • Urban Development Authorities Discussion Document
    • Justice and Electoral Select Committee’s Inquiry into the 2016 local authority elections
    • Tākaro – Investing in Play discussion document
    • Governance Framework Review
    • Four Wellbeings Bill
    • Dog Bylaw and Policy
    • Single Use Plastic Shopping Bags
    • Residential Tenancies Act 1986
    • Healthy Home Standards
    • Low emissions economy draft report
    • Regional Pest Management Plan
    • Presenting on a submission to the governing body with Shale Chambers and Richard Northey

      Waste Management and Minimisation Plan 2018

    • Draft 2018-2028 Regional Land Transport Plan
    • draft Regional Fuel Tax proposal
    • draft Contributions Policy
    • Rates Remission and Postponement Policy
    • Child and Youth Wellness Strategy
    • Natural Environment Targeted Rate
    • Draft Facility Partnership Policy
    • Auckland Water Strategy
    • Regional Public Transport Plan
    • Sports Investment Plan 2019 – 2039
    • Productivity Commission Issues Paper – Local Government Funding and Financing
    • Freedom Camping in Vehicles Bylaw
    • Department of Conservation’s proposed revocation of certain delegations to Territorial Authorise under the Reserves Act 1977
    • Trade Waste Bylaw 2013
    • The Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities Bill
    • Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill
    • Waste Management and Minimisation Bylaw 2019 and amendments to the Trading and Events in Public Places Bylaw 2015
    • Moving light vehicle fleet to low-emissions: discussion paper on Clean Car Standard and Clean Car Discount
    • Road to Zero: A New Road Safety Strategy for NZ
    • Proposed priority products and priority product stewardship scheme guidelines
    • Proposed biodiversity strategy for Aotearoa New Zealand

I would particularly like to acknowledge board member Richard Northey who always takes the time to review and comment on every local board submission (even when not within his portfolio areas) and has drafted many pieces of feedback directly.

Community-led Development

The local board has embraced the opportunities to fund, facilitate and encourage community-led development and empowerment.  I am particularly proud of the role I played in initiating the Ponsonby Park design through a community-led process.

In 2006 the former Auckland City Council purchased a site on Ponsonby Road to create a civic space. In 2011 Shale Chambers identified this as a project for inclusion in the first Waitematā Local Board plan. Consultation on options for the site followed in the Ponsonby Road masterplan led by me and former local board member Tricia Reade.

As the feedback was split between three options and as, following further consultation, we had reached an impasse I suggested we kick off a community-led process (inspired by Jim Diers community building presentation on his visit to Auckland) but never tried before on such a large project.

Seed funding from the local board led to the establishment of the Ponsonby Park working group. After lots of work and community engagement a winning design by Landlab became the board’s priority project for delivery (in Council speak known as an OLI – One Local Initiative).

It was fantastic news for the project in August when the Finance and Performance Committee agreed to fund the project from the sale of 200 Victoria Street (in addition to funding secured through the OLI process). If all goes to plan sod turning on “Ponsonby Park” will take place towards the end of next year.

We’ve also been open to innovative and creative approaches to achieving community outcomes.

Following determined advocacy of the Parnell Business Association and Parnell Community Committee we developed a Parnell Plan through a community working group process.

Other community-led projects that are flourishing include the Grey Lynn Pumptrack, Pollinator Path at Hakanoa Reserve, new Waiatarau Freemans Bay Park, Kelmarna Gardens, and OMG Organic Market Garden.

The launch and celebration of a Local Living Compost Hub at O.M.G – Organic Market Garden funded by the Ministry of Environment (photo above) shows how there is workable alternative using urban farms and localised collection points that is far better for the environment and healthy communities.

Sarah Smuts-Kennedy is the vision holder who has done an amazing job leading the way with a fabulous team. The transformation of a piece of dirt on Symonds Street is super impressive.

Stream restoration, natural environment and water quality

Restoring and caring for the environment has been a core part of the local board’s kaupapa.  For many years we have allocated $70,000 to top up of the council’s ecological restoration contracts to control pest plants and improve reserves like Jaggers Bush, Meola and Lemmington.

Other projects include:

    • Waiparuru stream in Symonds Street Cemetery

      Waipapa Stream: community-led project funded by the local board over many years. If it wasn’t for Parnell Community Committee and Parnell Heritage this stream would have ended up piped and lost for ever

    • Newmarket stream: community-led restoration and planting project (known as “off the Deck” in partnership with the Gecko Trust) co-funded with the Ōrākei Local Board
    • Restoration of Waiparuru stream in Symonds Street Cemetery

I would have liked to have seen the restoration of Western Springs Native Bush get underway in partnership with the community this term (a project I have been involved in since 2011 when I first walked the bush area with officers to assess the potential for native tree planting and track renewals after the zoo had tried to take the area for walking an elephant herd). However, the project is currently held up by the appeal of the Council’s resource consent to remove the remaining pine trees to make way for planting.

More on how targeted rates are being put to use for the environment and waterways across Waitematā (Attachment 1 Our Auckland Waitematā environment enhanced and protected by targeted rates).

Vibrant, local, zero waste events and support for the arts

We are host to a multitude of events and support the delivery of many more through event grant funding including:

    • Festival Italiano
    • Buskers Festival
    • Lightpath Festival held in 2017 and 2018
    • Santa Parade
    • Franklin Road Christmas lights
    • West End Tennis Cup
    • Art Week
    • Fringe Festival

We also directly deliver the popular Myers Park Medley (photo above with AK Samba) and Parnell Festival of Roses.  Through our advocacy and leverage with funding we’ve been successful in pushing events towards zero waste and promoting active travel.

We have committed to supporting our creative community, professional artists and arts organisations through the delivery of arts programmes.

A few firsts in the 2019/2020 budget include a $85,000 grant to TAPAC and the establishment of an Arts Space coordinator.

I was delighted to see that Walking in Trees is back in Albert Park – a project the local board first funded through the POP programme in 2014 (photo right with artist Richard Orjis).

The Rainbow Machine  was eventually delivered earlier this year as a regionally funded project, but first came to life as a local board initiative to create pop up child friendly play spaces (eg swings in bus stops) but morphed into a major art project picked up by the Public Art Team.

Progress on maintenance and renewals

A major restructuring a couple of years ago saw a new “Community Facilities” department take over all project delivery and maintenance for all Council assets. For local boards this was a source of frustration as local knowledge disappeared and local boards lost direct points of contact especially for Park projects.

In 2017 Ventia became the contractor covering the Waitematā Local Board.  There were notable teething issues to start with but recently we have seen huge improvements in maintenance.

Albert Park (photo right) is an example of where a big push has been made to improve the levels of service to maintain it as a premier park.  Ventia also took over street and town centre cleaning from Auckland Transport on 1 July 2019.  This has led to a noticeable improvement and areas being cleaned for the first time especially in the city centre.   The maintenance in four city parks is being done without any agrichemical sprays thanks to funding from the local board.

Before and after of the stairs at Point Resolution with the inclusion of a bike channel

We’ve also made a lot of progress in the organisation’s approach to renewals.   We’ve pushed to ensure that every renewal is an opportunity to enhance a community asset rather than done on a like for like basis.  This has resulted in wider park paths, new seating, and enhanced community facilities (photo right: before and after of the stairs at Point Resolution with the inclusion of a bike channel).

Other changes at Community Facilities have resulted in more streamlined project delivery and a dedicated point of contact for the local board.  Rod Sheridan, General Manager, Community Facilities was thanked at the August Chairs’ Forum for the success of Project Streetscapes, the many improvements and hard work that has been seen across all local boards.

New and improved playgrounds and parks

The local board has been responsible for upgrading and improving play opportunities across Waitematā, including new playground equipment at:

    • Myers Park
    • Vermont Reserve
    • Ireland Street Reserve
    • Grey Lynn Park
    • Coxs Bay Reserve
    • Sackville Reserve
    • Tirotai Reserve
    • Western Park
    • Old Mill Road
    • Francis Reserve

New playgrounds are also about to get underway at Western Springs, Outhwaite Park, and Home Reserve (indicative image right).

We’ve identified gaps in the play network in Newmarket especially for young people and in the city centre.  There is also the need to improve shade at our playgrounds.

A long running initiative of the local board has been to install drinking fountains into every park and streetscape upgrade. We’ve also installed three on-street drinking stations via Local Board Capex Transport Funding.   The locations of all the city centre drinking fountains are about to go live on the Project AKL website.

Following extensive consultation on the Te Wai Ōrea Western Springs Development Plan and feedback from bird experts we have recently confirmed a new local board policy that feeding the birds at Western Springs park will now be “actively discouraged” due to disease and environmental risks, with new signage and on-site education.  Attachment 3:  Bird feeding at park “actively discouraged” amid fowl and public health concerns.

I’m really pleased that long-standing project to build new changing rooms in Grey Lynn Park that will be available for use by the Richmond Rovers Rugby League Club is about to start construction.

Action on homelessness

Homelessness has become a growing issue and one that traditionally local government didn’t get involved with.  Fortunately, the Mayor has embraced Housing First with the support of the local board. The City Centre Targeted rate provided $2 million of funding for a major restoration of James Liston Hostel emergency accommodation and more recently $600,000 for outreach services.

We’re the only local board to support the wider regional strategy by allocating $20,000 last year and this year to support homelessness solutions.

Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board member Maria Meredith is one of the volunteers at Sunday Blessings

We also opened up Outhwaite Hall for outreach services while James Liston Hostel was being upgraded and have supported groups through our community grants including a trial of showers at Ellen Melville Centre, support for Lifewise Merge Café, St Columba for their community lunch and Sunday Blessings for their weekly dinner outside Central Library .

I was able to play a role helping the City Mission navigate Council processes to secure a $5million grant for the HomeGround housing and social services project.

 Support for Local Business

We have focused on initiatives that bring prosperity to our town centres, empower start-ups and social enterprise and underpin the important work done by the seven business associations in Waitematā.  We provide funding to the Young Enterprise Scheme to reach students from all secondary schools in the area.

I have been on the Ponsonby Business Association for six years and am really pleased to see the organisation is going from strength to strength under new leadership.  I’ve enjoyed regular catch ups with Newmarket Business Association’s Mark Knoff-Thomas, Parnell’s Cheryl Adamson and Karangahape Road Business Association’s Michael Richardson. It is a pleasure to work with all the General Managers who are determined, focused and passionate on behalf of their members.  More recently I have been working more directly with Viv Beck, General Manager of Heart of the City in her role as Chair of Auckland City Centre Advisory Board, since I replaced Shale as the Board’s representative earlier in the year.

As a foundation committee member of the Grey Lynn Business Association I was particularly pleased to hear a recent presentation to the local board covering a range of activities and the difference an annual grant of $10,000 from the local board has made to the volunteer-led association.

Looking ahead the Newmarket Business Association has brought a proposal to the local board to investigate the possibility of a targeted rate to fund improvements that were identified in Newmarket Laneways Plan (building on the upgrade of Teed Street completed in 2018). At our August board meeting we confirmed our support in principle and referred the matter to Financial Strategy and Planning to provide advice on the process, governance and feasibility of introducing a new targeted rate for Newmarket.

Through the City Rail Link (CRL) project we have seen how important a Development Response package is to assist businesses.  Barbara Holloway in the Auckland Design Office has done some great work on the template involving a package of support such as business advice, mentoring, activation around projects, signage, and communications.

A Development Response package was trialled initially for CRL on Albert Street by CRL Ltd (the organisation responsible) but it took my intervention and Heart of the City for it to be properly rolled out.  I’ve also escalated issues for the Karangahape Business Association to ensure the Development Response is effectively in place during the enhancement project and City Rail Link construction.  The ongoing issue of how our severely impacted businesses will be supported during the civil works, for example through a hardship fund, is yet to be resolved.

As part of Auckland’s City Fringe Economic Development Plan implementation, we’ve allocated $57,000 for a web branding ap that can be skinned by each individual Business Association. At our August meeting we heard an update on how the project is progressively positively.

Placemaking and tactical urbanism

One of the roles of the local board I enjoy the most is placemaking to create inviting people-focused places.  As a progressive local board we’ve enabled and promoted innovative approaches to placemaking and encouraged the organisation to embrace tactical urbanism and the use of trials.   One of the first trials I helped make happen was the installation of a bike parking corral on Ponsonby Road.  I’ve also played a role in the removal of parked cars from the Eastern Viaduct (photo right) for a public plaza.

A local board responsibility that is often overlooked is the naming of streets and public spaces.  I’m proud that we’ve been very receptive to adopting names recommended by mana whenua such as the new Tīramarama Way and recognised the civic contribution of women with two new names Amey Daldy Park and Freda Barnes Plaza soon to open at Wynyard Quarter.

The renaming of lower Khartoum Place as Te Hā o Hine Place (photo right with Ngāti Whātua representatives who gifted the name and National Council of Women) was a project I initiated following the upgrade of the stairs and successful fight to retain the suffrage memorial located there.

Transport

From the outset the local board has made it a priority to provide accessible, connected, safe transport networks with well-designed streets.  As the transport portfolio lead for nine years (this term with co-portfolio holder Vernon Tava) I have been involved in many projects that have made a contribution to better public transport, safer streets and increased numbers giving cycling a go.  A few highlights include:

    • Franklin Road:  This project took years to get underway due to it being in the too hard basket.  We kept the pressure on resulting in a $21million transformation including new lighting, storm water separation, undergrounding, traffic calming, cycle lanes and new tree pits.
    • Opening of Parnell Station March 2017:  The local board was instrumental in helping to make this happen by funding a new pathway connection between the station and Carlaw Park
    • Opening the Grey Lynn Greenway 2017

      Grey Lynn Greenway opened June 2017.

    • Ponsonby Road pedestrian safety project completed in 2018 part funded by the local board. The side street raised tables on Ponsonby Road and as part of the Franklin Road are as a result of the local board’s advocacy.
    • Victoria Park lighting improvements currently underway will create a safe pathway between Franklin Road and Wynyard Quarter.  Securing the budget took a lot of wrangling.
    • Freyberg Place pedestrian mall:  Thanks to the local board advocacy AT went ahead with re-classifying the road as a “pedestrian mall” well in advance of the agreed timeframe that was originally negotiated.  In the end there was very little objection.
    • Return of the bus service to Williamson Ave:  A win for people power.
    • New and improved pedestrian crossings: My heart sings when I see kids able to get to school safely because of a new crossing.
    • Cycleway openings:  There haven’t been enough, but every one has been cause to celebrate including Grafton Gully, Ian McKinnon Drive, Quay Street, Beach Road and Te ara I whiti/ Lightpath (see below).  After five years of debate and planning I am delighted that the Karangahape Road enhancement project including cycle paths in the design got underway in July.
    • Renewals:  As with the renewal of community assets (covered above) we have aimed to ensure that every Auckland Transport renewal is leveraged to provide a better outcome for the community for example through the inclusion of street trees or safety improvements.  The local board often has funding to contribute.  Recently we have made significant progress with the renewals team to ensure we don’t get any more “like for like” renewals.
    • Proposed quick win contra flow on Crummer Road

      Quick wins:  A cultural shift at Auckland Transport has opened up the way for more willingness to consider “quick wins” to improve safety for active transport.  I’ve suggested a number of ideas including a contra-flow on Crummer Road (image right) and a dedicated cycling route from Queen Street to the Domain.

I’ve particularly appreciated the support I have received from all local board members to take a leadership role on safe speeds, vision zero, pedestrian safety, effective parking management, removal of slip lanes, wayfinding, route optimisation for active transport and cycle infrastructure.

A couple of issues that remain unresolved that I am determined not to give up on with Auckland Transport include the current non-enforcement of berm parking that is causing damage and is unsafe and the unacceptable practice of unsafe and illegal unloading from car transporters on Great North Road.

Effective parking management

We’ve provided consistent support for effective parking management that provides access to parking for residents, businesses and short-term visitors.  During the Unitary Plan process I organised a “good for business” seminar about the economic and wider benefits of removing parking minimums.

It was through our advocacy that AT was able to trial the first residential parking zone in St Marys Bay in 2014 and push ahead with zones for all the city fringe suburbs.

Wayfinding

One of my pet projects over nine years has been to improve the wayfinding experience of people travelling around on foot or by bike.  After sustained advocacy there is finally wayfinding on the North-Western Cycleway and the local board is funding new signage for all vehicle no exit streets (if approved at our September meeting).

Cycleways

When I was first elected in 2010 riding a bike was considered to be a fringe activity and not taken very seriously.  Since then there has been a massive increase in people cycling especially where there are connected, safe cycle paths.

Lightpath Te ara i whiti opening 2015

Through numerous consultations and surveys we know that the majority of Aucklanders own a bike and would like to cycle if they felt safe.  The local board has been a strong advocate for transport choice including increasing opportunities for walking and cycling.  We’ve celebrated the opening of Te ara I whiti / Lightpath, the Quay Street cycleway, Grafton Gully shared path, Ian McKinnon Drive and new greenway connections but overall the rate of progress has been incredibly slow. No new work has been started in Waitematā for over a year.

I never imagined when I became a member of the Urban Cycling Investment Panel in 2014 that allocated $100 million New Zealand wide for urban cycling infrastructure that so much would remain undelivered by 2019.  The original 2018 delivery date has now been pushed out to 2021.

Unfortunately, the mistakes AT made over the West Lynn and Garnet Road/Surrey Crescent project has contributed to the delay to the programme as well as the increasing costs of meeting community expectations to deliver a whole range of streetscape improvements beyond just cycle lanes. Following further consultation regarding fixes to the design at the West Lynn shops AT is looking to progress with improvements to the crossing (image right of the preferred design following consultation with the local businesses and affected residents).

AT has a target of only 10km of new cycleways a year across Auckland – a significant chunk of which has been funded and delivered by the local board. However, I am hopeful that going forward, AT will take a new focus on safety to push ahead with a connected network with temporary designs and solutions where possible. This is absolutely essential work especially with the explosion of micro-mobility and the need to prioritise footpaths for people on foot.

School Safety

At the Waitematā Local Board’s August meeting we voted on a package of safety improvements from a one-off $1.4m community safety fund. The fund was launched following the introduction of the fuel tax. I’ve worked with my co-transport portfolio holder Vernon Tava on putting together the recommendations of what should be prioritised based on community feedback.

The following safety improvements will be made across the local board area:

    • A suite of safety improvements will be introduced outside and around Newton Central School in Grey Lynn

      A raised pedestrian crossing will be introduced on West End Road / Fife Street by the bus stops next to the West End Lawn Tennis Club in Westmere

    • Hopetoun Street in Freemans Bay will see various additional safety improvements as part of a wider footpath renewal project
    • Pedestrian crossings on Lower Domain Drive at Lovers Lane and Domain Drive in the Auckland Domain will be formalised
    • A raised pedestrian crossing will be introduced outside ACG Parnell College on Davis Crescent next to Olympic Reserve in Newmarket
    • A suite of safety improvements will be introduced outside and around Newton Central School in Grey Lynn.
Western Springs College students presenting a petition seeking a pedestrian crossing

We also received a petition from Western Springs College students seeking a pedestrian crossing on Meola Road that Auckland Transport has reassured the local board will be delivered as part of the Pt Chev cycleway project.

Attachment 2 Our Auckland: Road safety improvements on the way in Waitematā

Vision Zero – safer speeds

The Waitematā Local Board was the first to adopt Vision Zero as an advocacy position and three years ago I was part of a coalition – Brake New Zealand, Living Streets Aotearoa, NZ School Speeds, Cycling Action Network- that launched Vision Zero NZ.

At the Auckland Transport Board September meeting we achieved a truly significant milestone with the announcement that Auckland is now a Vision Zero region – under the Tāmaki-Makaurau Road Safety Governance Group’s new safety strategy. For the first time there’s a goal, backed by a partnership of agencies, of no deaths or serious injuries on our transport network by 2050.

Many thanks to all the people who have worked so hard to bring this strategy together to save many lives.

Auckland Domain Committee

The local board, under Shale’s leadership was instrumental in initiating the Domain Masterplan (2015) and the setting up of a joint governance committee. I have been the Deputy Chair of the Domain Committee this term.  I would have liked to have seen much quicker progress on making the Domain more accessible and safe.  It is currently dominated by the 600 car parks that are predominately used by commuters and there is a lack of continuous footpath around the Domain.

Officers have been able to progress some exciting new projects such as refurbishment of the Wintergarden, a new path Te Ara Oranga to the museum, a new natural play area, and the Kari commons that is about to be built (multi-sport area with part to be used by the University while their gym is rebuilt).

Other projects that have progressed thanks to the local board coming to the party with over $1.5 million in new funding including for signage, new footpaths and car parking improvements (to allow for on road car parks to be removed on shared paths).

The final Auckland Domain Committee of this term of Council voted to remove 40 car parks from in front of Auckland Museum to improve safety and open up views to an iconic building and war memorial. This is an important step towards improving accessibility in one of our premier parks. The Museum is right behind it and doing their own bit by increasing public car parks at the southern entrance and reducing fees in their car park.

Auckland’s City Centre

We’ve seen major changes to the city centre since 2010 when the residential population was approximately 20,000. It is now almost 60,000.  The majority of commuters arrive other than in private cars, and vehicles entering the city centre continue to decline.

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

In anticipation of the growth and the needs of the city centre residents, the refurbished Ellen Melville Centre was opened in 2017 as a vibrant community centre (photo right).  Programming at the centre is becoming more focused on the needs of residents.  We have also allocated funds so that the Central Library can open for an extra hour on weekends.

We’ve adopted the role of toilet “champions” by advocating for a full review of amenities in the city centre and the identification of gaps in the available toilets and information about locations. We’ve taken up the issue of the need for the new CRL train stations to have toilets available other than behind ticket barriers.

We’ve worked with Auckland Transport to identify locations for new toilet blocks that include drinking fountains and bus driver facilities (photo right: new toilet on Victoria Street).

The local board contributed to the development of the 2012 City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) and Waterfront Plan.  We’ve been supportive of the CCMP refresh that presents a vision of a city centre that is more family-friendly, more pedestrian-friendly and more environmentally-friendly.

The CCMP has recently gone out for consultation with eight place-specific transformational moves that will unlock the potential of the city centre.

Climate Action

Waitematā Local Board welcomed the decision in June by the Environment and Community Committee to declare a climate emergency. This followed a resolution passed by the local board a week prior calling on Auckland Council’s Governing Body to declare an ecological and climate emergency for the Auckland region.

We have funded for a number of years low carbon initiatives projects aligning with the Live Lightly themes: Eat, Move, Shop, Grow, Talk and Energy including:

    • Low carbon lifestyles project – behaviour change actions such as reducing shower times implemented at 165 households resulting in savings of 19,356kg of CO2
    • Low carbon Multi-unit Dwellings – energy and carbon assessments resulting in savings of $27,000 and 37,178kg of CO2. Three more apartment blocks will be assessed in 2019/2020 to move towards a tool available to property managers
    • Waitematā Low Carbon Network – a platform to connect individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses to empower and enable local climate champions to meet the Local board’s respective carbon emissions reduction targets. The network members were instrumental in taking the Climate Emergency declaration to Council
    • And a business food waste initiative

Going forward the aim of just “low carbon” is looking woefully inadequate. Auckland Council’s new goal is to achieve a zero net emissions by 2050, but bold moves will need to come out of the Climate Action Framework currently out for consultation until the end of September if we are going to have any chance of limiting temperature rises to the IPCC recommended 1.5 degrees.  (photo right with the School Strike for Climate student organisers).

A model of the proposed community recycling centre at Western Springs

Another important goal that we have consistently supported is to achieve Zero Waste by 2040.  Following strong community support through our first local board plan consultation we identified the need for a local Community-led resource recovery centre as part of a regional network that developed into the Western Springs joint project with Puketāpapa and Albert-Eden Local Boards.

It is fully funded with plans ready to go for consent but unfortunately the project has been held up by the Horticultural Society wanting to remain in the main building and not shift to a repurposed Western Springs community hall (image right: a model of the proposed centre at Western Springs)

Civic Duties

Richmond Road School assembly

I have really enjoyed all the civic duties that come with being Chair especially officiating at citizenship ceremonies, delivering the Anzac Day address at the Grey Lynn RSC service and attending events and school assemblies.

Most recently I attended the Richmond Road School assembly on behalf of the Mayor. Anna and Daneka (photo right) wrote to him with their concerns about so much plastic going into the ocean. The assembly was led by the school’s Mua I Malae (the Samoan bi-lingual unit) and celebrated Tongan language week as well as the students’ environmental projects.

Local Government New Zealand

Auckland Council’s Local Board chairs 2019

It has been a privilege to serve on National Council, LGNZ, as an ex-officio member since May 2018 representing local boards with the support of all the local board chairs.

Next term a local board representative will be voted on to National Council following a rule change at the LGNZ conference in July.  The rule change is the accumulation of many years of advocacy seeking appropriate local board representation and recognition and was made possible with the support of LGNZ CEO Malcolm Alexander who works tirelessly for the sector.

I’ve also appreciated the opportunity to attend the annual LGNZ conference when all of local government comes together to network and share ideas and information (I have reported back on every conference I have attended).

Looking ahead

There are a number of key projects that I’m excited about but it will be for the incoming Chair to lead including:

  • the refurbishment of the Plunket building in Heard Park
  • the Waipapa Valley Greenway connecting Newmarket to Parnell via the old Parnell train tunnel (image right)
  • Myers Park underpass
  • upgrade of Hobson Bay walkway
  • Myers Park Cottage restoration
  • Meola Reef improvements including new pathways, improved off leash area, restoration work and closing the end of the reserve to dogs
  • New paths and playground in Basque Park
  • Bi-lingual park naming
  • Accessibility Plan refresh
  • Rose Road Plaza (a project identified in the Ponsonby Road masterplan- indicative image right)
  • Establishment of the community-led resource recovery centre at Western Springs

In addition to the many transport projects and issues that are currently underway (Attachment 4 – to be tabled).

There are also regionally significant projects supported by the local board that I would like to have seen delivered by now, but I hope to stick around to see them through including:

    • Auckland Harbour Bridge Pathway (Skypath)
    • Restoration St James Theatre
    • Removal of the Dominion Road flyover
    • Grafton Gully Boulevard (first supported in principle by the local board in 2016 and now part of the City Centre masterplan refresh)
    • Major corridor enhancements including Hobson/Nelson streets, Broadway and Ponsonby Road
    • Implementation of slower speeds in the city centre.

Acknowledgements and Thank Yous

We are fortunate to be supported by an amazing Local Board Services team.  I would like to thank them all for their support, quality advice and good humour.

Thanks to those who have been part of my term as Chair: Relationship Managers: Kathryn Martin (on secondment) and Trina Thompson; Senior Local Board Advisor: Simon Tattersfield; Local Board Advisors: Corina Claps, Caroline Teh and Heather Skinner; Democracy Advisors:  Sybil Mandow and more recently Liz Clemm. Engagement Advisors: Carlos Rahman, Maria Hernandez-Curry and Zigi Yates. PA Supports; Tammy Hendricks and Priscila Firmo (photo right with some of the team on a visit to Ellen Melville Centre).

We have always been able to rely on the support of Dee Sims, David Kemeys and Cathy McIntosh as our Communications Advisor; Shamila Unka, our Strategic Broker, and Pramod Nair and Mark Purdie as our Finance Advisors.

Karl Beaufort and Jacqui Thompson Fell are doing a tremendous job on behalf of the local board in Community Facilities.  Ben Halliwell as our Auckland Transport Liaison has been instrumental in ensuring so many of our transport projects have progressed. I’m also thankful for the constant support and guidance provided to me personally by Otene Reweti, Senior Advisor Maori Relationships.

Across the council family I’m impressed by the dedication and hard work of the many people who are all committed to making Auckland a better place.

I’m grateful to be Chair of a local board with members who are positive, skilled, constructive and focused on achieving results. My heartfelt thanks to Deputy Chair Shale Chambers, Richard Northey and Adriana Christie, who are both standing again, and Vernon Tava, Denise Roche and Rob Thomas.

In my latest Ponsonby News update  I acknowledge all the retiring board members.   All board members have embraced taking on responsibilities through portfolios, are passionate about serving Waitematā and work hard for the community.

A special thanks to Vernon Tava, my co-portfolio holder for transport and portfolio lead for Planning and Heritage with me as he co-portfolio holder.  I’m grateful that in practice he does all the planning work for the board leaving me to focus on my role as chair.  Vernon has been a huge asset to the board, he is smart, focused and super-efficient at reviewing and reporting on the substantial number of resource consent applications (far more than any other board).  Among his many achievements, that he has detailed in his own report reflecting on his time on the board over six years, is the mapping of all the amenities in the city centre long before council got on to the task.

Throughout this report I have highlighted Shale Chambers’ leadership in a range of areas. His contribution to establishing the local board and setting the foundations for strong local decision making across council can’t be underestimated.  His ability to work tirelessly and make difficult decisions at crucial times has achieved impressive results for Waitematā.  As the Chair and Deputy Chair combo over nine years I have been fortunate to have learned a huge amount from Shale.  I thank him for his support, guidance and for becoming such a strong advocate for making Auckland a great place to cycle even though he has no wish to ride a bike!  I wish Shale and all the board members the best for the future