Chair’s monthly report February 2019

This is my first report for 2019 covering the period 12 December 2018 until 11 February 2019.

I’m really fortunate to have fantastic colleagues on the Waitematā Local Board supported by an outstanding team. After our final workshop of the year it has become a tradition to have lunch together and for board members to be presented with a surprise Christmas card. For the 2018 card we took on superpower characters that will no doubt take us into 2019 full of energy!

In the photo right with superheroes Shale Chambers, Adriana Avendaño Christie, Richard Northey, Vernon Tava, Rob Thomas and Denise Roche.

The following provides a summary of activities and highlights from the end of 2018 and over the summer break.  Local Board weekly workshops resumed on 5 February.

Salisbury Reserve entranceway

Land purchased to create an entrance way to Salisbury Reserve

 At the December Business Meeting the Local Board made the decision to progress with a new entrance way at Salisbury Reserve (Attachment 1). The Masonic Lodge, off Argyle St, was purchased from an Open Space budget by the former Auckland City Council to create an entranceway into the Reserve.

The Local Board consulted on two options – with and without parking. A healthy majority of submitters (68 per cent) supported the entranceway option with no car parks. We delayed our final (unanimous) decision to undertake a survey of the on-street parking availability on busy days at the clubrooms. It shows there is ample parking within a 200m walk of the clubroom (on the Argyle St end rather than Salisbury St). The on-street parking is the same distance to the clubroom entrance as the location of car parking in the Reserve proposed in one of the options.
The reserve is a neighbourhood park. It provides valuable green space. It is very unusual to have parking in a neighbourhood park and is not consistent with Council’s policies. Submitters put forward a range of reasons for creating an entranceway without parking including that it is safer for children and all users of the park.

The Local Board is supportive of the Herne Bay Petanque Club and Probus who use the clubrooms for meetings. Members currently make informal use of the old Masonic lodge carpark (there is no official parking in the reserve).  We appreciate that they would like this arrangement to continue. We have asked Auckland Transport to install on-street mobility car parks. We are also looking at how to improve accessibility into clubrooms.

Annual Budget 2019/20 consultation

As I reported in the February Ponsonby News, the Council’s annual budget consultation is coming up from 17 February.  This is the opportunity to give feedback on whether we have got our local board priorities right.  We’re not proposing major changes to the existing work programme for 2019/2020 as we continue to deliver the projects identified in the 2017 Waitematā Local Board Plan.

Developing 254 Ponsonby Road as a civic space remains our major local initiative.  Activating, improving and renewing our parks, guided by our Park Development Plans, will continue to be a focus.  There is budget earmarked to upgrade the playgrounds at Western Springs Lakeside Park and Home Street Reserve (above the draft concept design), provide pathways in Basque Park and commence building of the Grey Lynn Park changing rooms.

Our stream restoration projects will continue, and we’ve got a new project underway to enhance the Western Springs-Meola-Three Kings Aquifer. Through our grants programme, we’ll support community and arts groups and local events, as well as stage our two flagship events, Parnell Festival of Roses and Myers Park Medley (a family friendly free event on Sunday 17 February). We’re funding a new arts partnership with TAPAC and increased library hours at Grey Lynn Library and the Central City Library.

We’ll also continue investigating opportunities to reduce agrichemical use, including advocating to the Governing Body to take a regional approach to agrichemical-free park maintenance.

For information on the Annual Budget 19/20 consultation and engagement events visit the Auckland Council website.

Air Quality in the City Centre

Pedestrians and workers in Queen Street are being exposed to high levels of “black carbon” associated with a number of health problems. The key way of reducing air pollution in the city centre is to reduce emissions from buses and trucks. Councillors Chris Darby, Penny Hulse, Alf Filipaina, Richard Hills and I, on behalf of the Local Board, wrote to AT’s CEO on 17 December asking for “immediate action to alleviate the risk of more premature deaths, contributed to by atrocious air quality on our busiest street” (Attachment 3 to my report).

 Te Hā o Hine interpretation sign

 On 12 December a new interpretation signage at Te Hā o Hine Place was unveiled by Ngāti Whātua Orākei, alongside our board and National Council of Women representatives (photo right).

Te Hā o Hine is derived from the whakatauki (proverb) Me aro koe ki te Hā o Hine-ahu-one, that can be taken as meaning ‘pay heed to the dignity of women’.

The name was a gift from Ngāti Whātua Orākei in recognition of the Woman’s Suffrage Centenary Memorial located in Te Hā o Hine Place.

Western Park steps and boardwalk opening

On 12 December the Local Board members joined with local residents to celebrate the new stairs that connect Hopetoun Street with Western Park.

The stairs have new handrails to improve accessibility and the viewing platform on Hopetoun Street has been re-decked.

Feedback on the upgrade has been overwhelmingly positive.

Western Springs Lakeside Park

 Western Springs Lakeside Park featured on TVNZ One News on 21 January about plans the Local Board has to improve water quality and the work underway to keep paths clear of bird poo and the geese numbers under control (attachment 4).

At the same time the removal of pine trees at risk of failure was in the news.  I will report with an update on Westerns Springs Bush Restoration project next month once we know the outcome of the resource consent process and discussions with neighbours.

Feedback on the draft RPTP

I worked on the Local Board’s feedback on the draft Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP) with the Local Board’s Senior Adviser.  This was submitted on 18 January following consideration of the public’s feedback in response to a consultation process held by Auckland Transport at the end of 2018. (attached as an agenda item)

The Local Board supports the overall direction of the draft RPTP, the vision for public transport and how Auckland Transport proposes to meet the identified challenges for the next 10 years. We are generally supportive of the steps to increase public transport services but would like to see a clear statement of intent to increase mode-share of public transport.

In the feedback we outlined what the Local Board supports to consolidate and build on the rapid increase in public transport boardings from 79 million in June 2015 to 92 million in June 2018.  We also outline what improvements we would like to see to public transport services (including the reinstatement of a service on Williamson Ave) and infrastructure and specific feedback on the four focus areas in the draft.

 Kelmarna Gardens entranceway

 At the end of last year the entranceway to Kelmarna Organic Community Gardens and City Farm was given a makeover helped with a modest grant from the Local Board (Our Auckland: Kelmarna Gardens)

As described by Kelmarna (via their FB page) “The installation of the curved seat (designed by Carl Pickens Landscape Architect), new bike parking and wheel stops, shaping and edging of the gardens, smoothing of the drive and creation of a circle for our leafcutter bee box has been made possible by the generosity, sweat and toil of Norm and team at Landscape Solutions, Omid and team at Ventia, the Waitematā Local Board and Auckland Council, all in the last weeks before Christmas. Once planted with pollinator-attracting plants by our friend Andrea Reid from Pollinator Paths, visitors will be able to come, rest and absorb the sensory garden full of bees and butterflies”.

Events and functions:  12 December until 12 February

  • Western Park Boardwalk opening on 12 December
  • Exhibition opening at Toi Ora on 12 December
  • Vigil for Grace on Federal Street on 12 December
  • Te Hā o Hine Place signage unveiling on 13 December
  • Tour of the City Rail Link tunnels for board members on 14 December (photo right) and community stakeholders thank you gathering on 13 December hosted by CRL Ltd.
  • Ports of Auckland community liaison meeting and Christmas gathering on 12 December
  • Rainbow Youth sponsors breakfast
  • Love Food, Hate Waste Christmas lunch at Ellen Melville Centre on 14 December (photo right)
  • Christmas in Western Park event hosted by the Ponsonby Business Association on 14 December
  • Launch of Cr Mike Lee’s book Navigators & Naturalists on 16 December
  • Final workshop of the year on 18 December followed by Christmas lunch for local board members and local board staff
  • Heart of the City’s Late Night Christmas event in the city centre on 20 December
  • On 23 December invited to Sunday Blessings’ Christmas dinner for the homeless community served by volunteers at the Central Library.  Also there in support were The Auckland Street Choir and Orange Sky New Zealand.
  • Invited by Holy Trinty Cathedral to read the Third Lesson at the Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols (photo right)
  • Attended the ASB Classic on 4 January at the invitation of Tennis Auckland
  • Invited by Fiftysix Creations to be a Guest Mentor at Business Camp on 16 January for students aged 5 to 15 who came together over the school holidays to identify a community based problem
  • Opening of the Buskers Festival at the invitation of Crackerjack Productions
  • Over anniversary weekend enjoyed the See Port Festival fireworks put on by Ports of Auckland and checked out the Rainbow Machine at Silo Park (modelled in the photo right by Luna, Ruby and the White Face Crew). This amazing creation originated as a Local Board child friendly pop up play spaces project which got picked up by the regional art team. Artists: Shahriar Asdollah-Zadeh, Patrick Loo and Sarosh Mulla
  • Waitangi Day started with a small gathering organized by Cr Mike Lee and Terry Dunleavy to acknowledge Governor William Hobson at his grave in Symonds St cemetery. Niamh McMahon, honorary consul general of the Republic of Ireland attended and recited a poem. I then enjoyed the Waitangi Day Festival hosted by Ngāti Whātua at Okahu Bay
  • LGNZ National Council meeting in Wellington on 8 February. In the photo right with Mayor of Dunedin and LGNZ President Dave Cull and Deputy Mayor of Oamaru and Young Elected Member rep, Melanie Tavendale
  • Tom Scott’s Daylight Atheist at the ASB Waterfront Theatre at the invitation of ATC
  • Big Gay Out at Coyle Park on 10 February (photo below with Albert-Eden Local Board member Jessica Rose and a friend Kirstin Jones)
  • Leaving function for Lester McGrath from Auckland Theatre Company on 11 February

Monthly Board report July 2016

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board activities from 1 June to 10 July 2016 as Deputy Chair, lead for the Community and Transport portfolios, and Chair of the Grants Committee, and with positions on the Ponsonby Business Association Board and Ponsonby Community Centre Committee and Board liaison for the Parnell Community Centre.

I was also acting chair for the week of 27 June when I attended the Local Chair’s Forum and the Auckland City Centre Advisory Board meeting.

CRL explosionHIGHLIGHTS

City Rail Link Ground breaking

 On Thursday 2 June Mayor Len Brown, Auckland Transport chairman Dr Lester Levy, Prime Minister John Key and Minister of Transport Simon Bridges officially marked the start of the construction for the City Rail Link.  It was an explosive ground breaking event with special cupcakes and a fantastic flash mob dance sequence involving many of the CRL workers. More importantly it was an opportunity to acknowledge Mayor Len’s role (and the many people who supported him such as Cr Mike Lee) in pushing ahead with this vital transport project that has been 93 years in the making.

Support for Auckland Transport to develop a Street Tree Planting Policy

Franklin Road street treesMy notice of motion requesting Auckland Transport to develop a street tree planting policy was unanimously passed by the Waitematā Local Board at our June business meeting.

MOVED by Deputy Chairperson PJ Coom, seconded by Member CP Dempsey

That the Waitematā Local Board:

i) notes the benefits of urban street trees and the Auckland Plan, City Centre Master Plan and Waitematā Local Board Plan 2014 commitment to plant street trees;

ii) requests Auckland Transport in association with Auckland Council Parks develop:

a) A street tree planting policy; and

b) A strategy to meet the City Centre Masterplan street tree target of a 25% increase by 2021;

iii) requests Auckland Transport allocate budget (capex and opex) for funding new street trees as part of streetscape projects and footpath renewals;

iv) requests that this Notice of Motion is circulated to all Local Boards, the Parks, Recreation and Sports Committee, Auckland Development Committee, Auckland Transport Board and Chief Executive and Auckland Council Policy and Bylaws team

Hakanoa Street, Grey Lynn kerbingHakanoa Street footpaths and kerbing

I’ve been following up on the concerns residents have raised about the kerb and channelling work currently underway by Auckland Transport’s contractors that involves removing the blue stone kerbing.

Auckland Transport has responded that:

the kerbs are being removed in places due to the disruptions of the tree roots, the tree roots are then unable to be cover over (as per the arborists direction)  therefore AT is unable to replace like for like and has to put in concrete and pointing of which is coloured, this does give a piece meal effect/look but as we are not able to replace with any kerb type i.e. (blue stone ) our hands are tied

 The only way to replace blue stone kerbing over tree roots is by putting in a bigger lintel over the roots, unfortunately the arborists has said we are not allow to do so in some places where the kerb is not replaced and there appears to be no trees, this is because there is 3 applications from residents for vehicle crossings

 Due to the nature of the tree roots AT accepts that we will have on going issues with this street and will return regularly to try to fix

However the road appears to have been widened thereby pushing the kerb closer to the tree roots.  There appears to be a mismatch of concrete and blue stone in big sections between trees not just around the trunk of the tree (as in the photo above). Large areas of blue stone kerbing stones appear to have disappeared without justification when similar streets have retained the traditional kerbing as part of an upgrade (eg Selbourne Street).  The works have also resulted in damage to house frontages.  I will continue to work on this with the residents until we receive a satisfactory response from Auckland Transport.

5. Hakanoa Reserve entrance from Hakanoa StA further issue I am following up is the continuation of the kerbing work despite plans for on road greenway works at the exit of Hakanoa Reserve (photo above) and planned pedestrian/cycleway improvements at the intersection with Richmond Road.

Auckland Transport has not explained the duplication of works and the additional costs.

 Renaming lower Khartoum Place

 Consultation on the renaming of lower Khartoum Place with a suitable name associated with women’s suffrage, and in recognition of the Women’s Suffrage Centenary Memorial 1893-1993 ‘Women Achieve the Vote’ ended on 25 May.

From the 137 submissions there was strong support for the name change.  Details of the feedback and a decision making report are on the Board’s agenda this month.   It is looking positive that we will be a position to change the name in time for Suffrage Day in September.

The future of St Columba Church & parish

St Columba church, Grey Lynn I have been following events at St Columba in Grey Lynn and attended two community hui held during June to discuss the future of the parish.

Following financial difficulties last year the Anglican Diocese commissioned a report to consider the options available to the parish.   The report concluded with three redevelopment options that all involved demolishing the church and facilities on the site including the hall, community garden and labyrinth. This led a campaign to save St Columba involving the wider community.

 On 1 July the following statement was issued by the the Anglican Bishops of Auckland and the Vicar of St Columba Grey Lynn.

Conversations are underway to assist the Parish of St Columba Grey Lynn to address some significant challenges that have developed over a long period of time.

 Those challenges are related to finance and the ongoing costs of providing ministry in the community. They include the maintenance of buildings.

 The Bishops and the diocesan leadership are working closely with the Vicar and the people of the Parish to seek a long-term solution.

 The Diocese continues to have a commitment to the community of Grey Lynn. That commitment is being indicated in conversations that included a visit to the parish last weekend. The Diocese and the Parish are grateful for the support of the wider community.

Further conversations are anticipated with no decisions made at this point.

 The Bishops and the Vicar will be able to comment further once there is a decision to announce

Waitematā Local Board Community Grants

 The final Grants Committee was held on June to consider applications to the fourth and final round of the grants fund for 15/16. A total of $38,613.00 was available to distribute. The committee approved grants totally $29,791.00 to a range of community groups and organisations.

 Waipapa stream planting

 Waipapa planting day June 2016 Hugh and LukeAnnual planting day along the banks of the Waipapa Stream in Parnell was attended by Councillor Mike Lee, representatives from the Waitemata Local Board, Parnell Heritage, Parnell Community Committee, and local neighbours. It is great to see the many years of volunteer labour to re-habilitate the stream is paying off.

Mary Stewart, Senior Biosecurity Advisor, who has been coordinating the planting,is looking to work with Parnell Heritage and the Parnell Community Committee to engage with the surrounding residents to encourage best environmental practices nearby.  The stream has greatly improved  but practices continue that threaten the area (such as growing plants that are weeds in the apartments that are dropping into the stream and naturalising, dumping of garden waste, plant tags, pots, trimmings, old plants, dumping of rubbish and liquids (killing off plants) using driveway cleaners that kill trees).

 Ponsonby Road Pedestrian Experience

Lincoln Street side street render In the July Our Auckland Waitematā Local Board members feature in a story regarding the Board funded project to create a safe and consistent pedestrian experience along Ponsonsby Road between Franklin Road and Williamson Ave (the project was consulted on in November 2015). As mentioned in the article the work was meant to have started in June.

Unfortunately Auckland Transport missed the construction deadline for the works on Lincoln and Collingwood Streets in the last financial year and now has a budget shortfall. We are working through the budget details with Auckland Transport and the consultation process to get the feedback on intersection furniture layouts, materials, and street furniture.

It is now expected that the construction will start late August/early September 2016.

 Berm planting guidelines

 The mystery of Auckland Transport’s berm planting guidelines continues. I’ve given regular updates in my report regarding progress on guidelines that were promised by Easter.

A resident was recently advised the following after she complained about the destruction of her berm garden.

In Central, we mow all berms if they exceed or are approaching a height of 200mm. Our mowing operators work in tandem, with the bulk of the berm mown with a ride-on mower, and then followed up shortly afterwards with weed-eaters to remove encroaching grasses from the edge of footpaths and the kerbside, and around trees and poles which the ride-on mowers cannot reach.  Given the large number of berms to be mown across the city this actually provides better value for ratepayers than the stop-start method of one operator undertaking both activities.

Auckland Transport offered to put her on a no mow register which defeated the point as she had only grown a berm garden after being told she was responsible for it as she wasn’t physically able to mow the verge herself. The resident is now happy for AT to mow her berm again.

Quay Street cyclewayQuay Street Cycleway

On Friday 8 July the Minister of Transport, Hon Simon Bridges and Auckland Mayor Len Brown officially opened the Quay St protected cycleway on Auckland’s busiest cycle route.

At the time of writing my report the cycleway was still closed but attracting large numbers on a sunny weekend.  With the Quay Street Cycleway another gap is connected in the central city cycle network.

 Auckland Conversations : The future of housing in Auckland

Furture of housing in AucklandPanel discussion hosted by Bernard Hickey.

 With Auckland growing at a rate of 896 people a week how can everyone be guaranteed a home, either to buy or rent? Auckland clearly needs new housing options so the economic benefits of growth can be shared by all as we establish our place among the world’s most successful cities.

An excellent discussion about the current Auckland Housing crisis and what is needed to fix it. One big take away pushed by Bernard Hickey  is that young people need to vote in the Local Government Election in September.

The full discussion can be viewed on you tube

Workshops and meetings

Ponsonby Residential parking zone consultationFrom 1 June until 10 July 2016 I attended:

  • Public Open Day hosted by Auckland Transport on the Ponsonby Residential Parking Zone at the Ponsonby Community Centre 1 June
  • Wellesley St/Learning Quarter Interim Business Case Workshop #1 on 3 June
  • Waitematā Local Board workshop on 7 June
  • Auckland Transport hui on the Ponsonby Road Pedestrian Experience on 8 June
  • Ponsonby Business Association Board meeting on 9 June
  • Attended the last session of the Little Grocer Environment Court hearing on 9 June
  • Kai a te rangatira – Elected Members breakfast sessions with Dr Ella Henry on 13 June
  • Central Community Recycling Facility Meeting on 14 June with Albert- Eden and Puketapapa Local Boards re Next Phase of design and provision of service
  • Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 14 June at the board office  on 14 June
  • Engagement Framework meeting with the Board’s engagement adviser
  • Auckland Development Committee joint workshop with Local Board members on 15 June
  • Monthly Transport portfolio catch up on 15 June
  • Waitematā Local Board workshop on 16 June
  • Community portfolio visit to the Plunket rooms in Parnell
  • St Columba church community hui on 19 June
  • Waitematā Local Board workshop on 21 June
  • Community portfolio meeting on 22 June
  • Waitemata Local Board Community Grants committee meeting on 22 June
  • Meeting  on 23 June to discuss the Achievements Report
  • Inner City Network meeting and presentation on the work of the CAB on 23 June
  • Catch up with Michael Richardson, GM K’rd business association on 24 June
  • Spray free community meeting hosted by Deborah Yates at the Grey Lynn Community Centre on 26 June
  • Community meeting with Assistant Bishop Jim White on 26 June to discuss the future of St Columba Church
  • Local Board Chairs Forum meeting on 27 June
  • Ponsonby Community Centre committee meeting on 27 June
  • Auckland City Centre Advisory Board meeting on 29 June
  • Ports Community Reference Group on 29 June
  • Local Board Briefing – Community Centre Levels of Service Review  (Central Local Boards) on 30 June
  • Newton and Eden-Terrace Plan –Hui on 30 June
  • Changing Minds Community Housing Forum on 1 July at the Grey Lynn Community Centre
  • Waitematā Local Board workshop on 5 July
  • Franklin Road Improvement Project community liaison meeting hosting by Auckland Transport on 5 July

Refugee Forum AUTEvents and functions

From 1 June until 10 July 2016 I attended:

  • The Refugee Experience  – Storytelling through visual displays at AUT 1 June (photo right)
  • Countdown Supermarket Williamson Ave opening on 2 June
  • Bike Breakfast at Scarecrow on 2 June
  • City Rail Link ground-breaking on 2 June
  • Spray Free community meeting on 2 June
  • Auckland Transport’s cycling open day at La Cigale market on 4 June
  • Alex clothes swapWaitemata Youth Collective Clothes swap a the Central Library (photo of Alex Johnston at the Clothes Swap)
  • Queen’s Birthday celebrations at the Cloud on 4 June
  • Waipapa Stream planting day on 11 June
  • Auckland Theatre Company’s That Bloody Woman at Sky City Threatre (at the invitation of ATC) on 11 June
  • Auckland Transport’s Bike Market at the Cloud on 12 June
  • Grey Lynn Business Association networking drinks at the Malt Public House on 14 June
  • Newmarket Business Awards dinner at the Auckland War memorial museum on 17 July (at the invitation of NBA)
  • Feijoa guild Mik SmellieOtago Law Alumni breakfast at the Northern Club on 21 June
  • Feijoa Festival hosted by Splice at Chuffed Café on 22 June (Photo right: Guild of the Feijoa’s, Mik Smellie )
  • Auckland Conversations on 23 June The Future of Housing in Auckland
  • NZ Maritime Museum – Twin Exhibition Opening on 24 June
  • General Collective Market at Ponsonby Central on 25 June
  • The Minnie Street Community Day on 25 June
  • Cycle Action Network webinar presenter How to influence decision makers (together with Trevor Mallard and David Lee, Wellington City Councillor)
  • Selywn VercoeThe Seven Stars of Matariki exhibition curated by Selwyn Vercoe at Studio One Toi Tu (photo right)
  • Auckland Speaks: Multi media performance event at Adult Education Inc
  • World Press Photo exhibition opening at Smith & Caughey on 1 July
  • Plastic Free July, Grey Lynn 2030 Waste Away group at Farro Fresh
  • Pecha Kucha: Special edition Auckland on the move at the Hopetoun Alpha on 5 July
  • Auckland Conversations 6 July
  • Attendance at the 2 Walk and Cycle Conference 6 – 8 July at the Rendevous Hotel (funded from the Local Board’s professional development budget). I will be reporting back on the conference in my August report
  • Vision Zero workshop presenter at the 2 Walk and Cycle Conference (together with Caroline Perry, Brake NZ, Patrick Morgan, Cycle Action Network and Abby Granbery, MR Cagney)
  • Opening of the Quay Street Cycleway by the Minister Simon Bridges on 8 July
  • Grey Lynn Park Greenways opening on Saturday 9 July
  • Te Wananga o Aotearoa Kapa Haka Super 12s at the Cloud
  • 30th anniversary of Homosexual Law Reform at the Auckland Town Hall

Bike Market June 2016 NZ Police officer Cole

Monthly Board report February 2016

This is my first report for 2016 covering updates from December 2015 and January 2016.

Highlights

City of cycles

The opening of Lightpath and the Nelson St cycleway on 3 December by Hon Simon Bridges marked the beginning of a fantastic summer of cycling for Auckland.  There has been a 20 percent increase in cycling in December 2015 compared to 2014 thanks to the expanding network of safe cycleways.

cycleway-opening-ceremony_500x620Lightpath is now the second busiest route with an average of 936 cycle trips per day (pedestrian numbers have yet to be made available but it is also proving to be extremely popular for walkers, runners and skateboarders).

Although Nelson St cycleway has been a big success (and Lightpath is guaranteed to be an award winner) we have been concerned about poor connections and lack of wayfinding to the route. At our December board meeting we passed the following resolutions detailed here.

As at 2 February NZTA has advised that the work around Mercury Lane and Canada Street is being reviewed as part of the final safety audit which is due to be concluded imminently with remediation work to follow.

 Love to Ride – Auckland Bike Challenge

 I’ve signed up the Waitematā Local Board to the Auckland Bike Challenge through the Love to Ride website. Over February we are going to aim for every member of the local board and all our local board services team to give cycling a go at least once.

 City Rail Link announcement

 CRL BlessingThe Waitematā Local Board has consistently supported the City Rail Link as we understand that it is critical to the development of an integrated, efficient transport system in Auckland.  It was therefore a pleasure to mark two significant CRL milestones.

First on 21st December I attended with Christopher Dempsey on behalf of the Board the dawn blessing for the start of the CRL works (photo right).

On 27 January I joined MP Julie Anne Genter, supporters and board members for a celebration to mark the government’s announcement on CRL celebration at the Greens Officethe CRL funding. This commitment is long overdue but it is good to see the government finally respond to the overwhelming evidence that the CRL is essential to Auckland.

Congratulations to everyone who championed the CRL project and in particular the Mayor who made it his number one priority.

New Network consultation  

In January I worked on the Board’s feedback on Auckland Transport’s proposed New Network for Auckland’s Central Suburbs following the public consultation process that ran from 1 October until 10 December 2015.

The Board’s feedback is attached to the agenda.

Taxi trial on Grafton bridge

 The Board welcomed the news that Auckland Transport proposes an early end to the Grafton bridge taxi trial. We originally opposed the introduction of the trial.

 From AT’s monitoring data it appears that the introduction of taxis to the bridge had a more than minor effect as outlined in the pre-trial monitoring methodology.  The two main areas of concern are; failure to adhere to the 30km/h speed limit and, the number of recorded instances of taxis overtaking cyclists on the bridge.

We agreed with this assessment (which supported our own experience of taxis and unauthorised drivers using Grafton Bridge) and the recommendation to the Traffic Control Committee (TCC) for the trial to be stopped and for the special vehicle lane to be returned to a bus lane.

Franklin Road

franklin-road-revised-option-1-october-2015I am the Board’s representative on the Community Liaison Group for the upgrade of Franklin Road.

In December, following further public engagement and peer review of the options, Auckland Transport announced the preferred design option.

The key reasons given for selecting option 1 as preferred option are:

  • It balances the needs of all road users taking into account feedback from stakeholders.
  • It retains the flush median which is used predominantly by vehicles for right turn movements into side street.
  • It retains parking between trees.
  • It provides for confident cyclists.
  • It’s considered an appropriate facility for the steep gradient of Franklin Road.
  • There is good separation between cyclists and vehicles reversing from driveways.
  • It is supported by an independent peer reviewer.

Option 1 will now progress to the detailed design stage with a draft design expected in March 2016. This will include further consideration of the treatment of the Wellington Street intersection and side road intersections, and the location and design of pedestrian crossing facilities.

Physical works on stage one are due to commence in March 2016 and implementation of the residents parking zone in April. It is great to see this project moving forward after a long campaign by the Board and local residents.

More details on Auckland Transport’s website.

 Unitary Plan

I have been following the Unitary Plan debate closely and how it impacts on our communities even though planning sits outside my portfolios.

On 25th January I attended with the Chair the Grey Lynn Residents Association information evening. At least 40 people came along to Grey Lynn RSC to hear about the latest zone changes.

What is of most of concern is the out of scope upzoning that is currently proposed by Auckland Council. This has involved unilateral changes to zoning without the ability of people to have any input. It is likely that not all the zoning changes will be opposed where it has been done to correct anomalies or where there may be support for more intensification particularly on transport routes (one of the rationales for the upzoning).

However current opposition to the proposals is not a NIMBY response (as is often portrayed of the oppostion) but an objection to the process. As the Shale Chambers said at the meeting it is a “procedural abomination” that the usual rules of natural justice and the democratic process have not been applied to the up-zoning proposals.

Another aspect of the Unitary Plan process that was mentioned at the meeting is how draining it has been on community groups. The Grey Lynn Residents Association is one of the few voluntary groups that are still managing to be part of the hearing process.

Events

Auckland on Anniversary weekend
Auckland on Anniversary weekend

The Auckland Anniversary long weekend provided a smorgasbord of amazing events. I enjoyed checking out the Waitemata Local Board sponsored International buskers festival, Ports of Auckland hosted See Port, and the new Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival in the Cloud as well as taking visitors on a bike ride along the waterfront.

It was just really disappointing to hear that so many people were let down by public transport over the weekend. Member Christopher Dempsey is following this up with Auckland Transport as there is no excuse for not being able to plan for the huge crowds that are now attracted to the city centre to celebrate Auckland’s anniversary.

I was fortunate to attend a number of events in December in the lead up to the holiday break (including the Franklin Road lights, West Lynn Street party, Grey Lynn 2030 Christmas lunch, Ponsonby Business Association breakfast). I was particularly grateful for the invite extended to all elected representatives to attend a settlement waananga and Christmas lunch at Umupuia Marae on 11 December. It was a very special day learning about the history of Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki and their recent settlement with the Crown.