This report covers my Waitematā Local Board activities from 1 February – 29 February 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.
Since October 2015 Auckland Council has been in the process of implementing an empowered communities approach to community development. The new operating model involves a shift from Council delivering community development activities, to using community-led development processes. The new approach requires Council’s operational practices to allow more people to participate and for budgets to be devolved to communities as much as possible.
The Board has been supportive of the change in approach and we welcomed our new Strategic Broker Shamila Unka at the end of last year. Shamila will be based part time at the Board’s new offices at 52 Swanson Street.
We have however been concerned to ensure a smooth transition and that none of the local board’s priorities are over looked in the new structure.
The leadership team of the new Community Empowerment Unit led by Christine Olsen met with the central area community development portfolio holders in early February and the whole Unit held a very informative Open Day for all elected representatives on 29 February
Community development work programme
- Priorities of the community development portfolio for 2016 include:
- Review and refresh of the Board’s accessibility plan
- Support for Council’s Homeless Action Plan
- Continuing the upkeep of Waitemata’s community facilities
- Transitioning community centres to 3 yearly agreements
- Supporting the work of the Waitematā Youth Collective and development of a city centre youth hub
- Provision of temporary meeting spaces in the city centre during the Ellen Meville Hall upgrade period
- Child Friendly City Accreditation
- Supporting community empowerment projects such as the community- led design process for 254 Ponsonby Road
Community consultation – Annual budget 2016/17
The Council’s annual consultation on the budget for the following year got underway in mid-February. As part of the process the Board also seeks feedback on our local priorities and new proposals.
Waitematā Local Board key priorities outlined in the consultation material: Based on our 10-year budget, in 2016/2017 we plan to invest $11 million to renew and develop assets in your local board area and $23 million to maintain and operate these assets and provide other local initiatives. This includes:
- renewing existing assets ($2.4 million)
- completing stage two of Myers Park including the improved entranceway at Mayoral Drive and installation of a splash pad ($3.3 million)
- completing the Weona-Westmere coastal walkway ($360,000)
- re-developing Pioneer Women’s and Ellen Melville Hall ($3.4 million)
- commencing delivery of a streetscape improvement project from the agreed Newmarket Laneways Plan ($1.4 million)
- delivering the new Fukuoka gardens in Western Springs park ($40,000)
It is proposed the following additional local priorities for 2016/2017 are funded through local discretionary budgets:
- improve the pathways through Western Park and upgrade the Pt Resolution steps to concrete
- install a new pathway through Symonds Street Cemetery to connect Karangahape Road to Grafton Gully cycleway
- increase spend on low carbon initiatives to help Waitematā lower carbon use and become more energy-resilient including the installation of photovoltaics at Grey Lynn Community Centre
- increase the budget for the annual Myers Park festival to provide an even better local event
- investigate the feasibility of establishing a youth hub in the city centre
- install a solar heating solution at Parnell Baths
- continue to put children and young people first and achieve UNICEF Child Friendly City accreditation
- support community-led development and place making such as the open space design for 254 Ponsonby Road and the development of a bicycle pump track at Grey Lynn Park
The Board is also considering allocating budget to change the service levels to increase maintenance of headstones and removal of graffiti at the historic Symonds Street Cemetery.
I’ve raised concerns with the regional consultation team about the poor level of communication to promote local board consultation events and the inaccessibility of the material online.
Fortunately we have a fantastic local board team who have been doing a great job on our behalf working alongside local community groups to arrange consultation events and opportunities to give feedback.
Due to a range of issues with promoting the Annual Budget 2016/17 consultation material the feedback period has been extended to 24 March. Link to the online feedback form
At our first transport portfolio meeting of the year we discussed a long list of updates with Auckland Transport representatives including:
- Ponsonby Road pedestrian experience project: The proposals for improving Ponsonby Road for people walking were consulted on from from 16 November to 7 December 2015. In total, 129 feedback responses were received with a large majority expressing strong support for the project overall. The results and recommendations for next steps will be reported back on our April agenda.
- Cycleway progress and implementation with Kathryn King, Manager of Walking & Cycling: AT plans to seek feedback in March from Western Bays residents on preferences for making the area more attractive for cycling. We raised the issue of the many outstanding small fixes to the existing cycle way network that we are concerned are getting forgotten with the focus on an extensive capital work programme. It was good to hear that many are underway such as contra- flows for cycling on one way streets including Crummer Road (first included in our Local Board Agreement 2011/12)
- Quay Street update: The design for a two-way separated cycleway on Quay Street leading from Lower Hobson Street, past Princess Wharf to Plumer Street has been confirmed. Completion is expected in April 2016
- CRL update: Options are being considered for closing the rail crossing on Porters Ave just off New North Road on the boundary of the Waitemata Local Board area. This has an impact on the residents and businesses of Albert – Eden.
- Nelson Street parking: Auckland Transport consulted the transport portfolio before removing the parking on Nelson St between Wellesley and Victoria Streets alongside
the cycleway (photo right). We didn’t object to the removal as occupancy was low and the poor layout was causing a lot of confusion for drivers. However we did ask AT to actively work with the NZ Police to enforce the speed limit on Nelson St (the parked cars had the benefit of slowing down the traffic).
- Private Planting in Road Corridor: AT’s long awaited berm planting guidelines are expected to come back to Local Boards for comment shortly
- Parking Fund Reserve: Approximately $100k is available to fund car parking. The transport portfolio has asked that a proposal to leverage this fund to develop sites that are in Council ownership while retaining off street car parking be investigated (for example the car park on Pompellier Tce)
- Local Board Transport Capital Fund has $216k available that needs to be allocated by October. The Board is exploring a number of options with Auckland Transport
The Auckland Transport monthly report on our agenda provides updates in more detail.
The gutting of tree protection regulations by the government has highlighted the importance of street trees for providing the many benefits the city receives from a rich green canopy. Unfortunately Auckland Transport has generally been taking a “business as usual” approach to footpath upgrades and renewals so that opportunities to plant trees have been overlooked.
Part of the problem appears to be an institutional resistance to including trees because of the additional operational costs.
Five recent projects have exposed the need for Auckland Transport and Auckland Council to urgently agree on the policy and procedure for the planting of street trees:
Rose Road road works as a result of the new Countdown supermarket on Williamson Ave – footpath extended without tree pits (photo top)
- Graham St footpath renewal – footpaths reinstated without tree pits (photo below)
- Scotland Street upgrade – plans for greening the footpath build-out are still in discussion
- Parnell Rise/ Parnell Road upgrade – plans for greening the footpath build-out are still in discussion. A tree pit was not originally included in the design because of underground utilities
- The Dylan apartment development on the corner of Great North Road and Harcourt St- footpaths reinstated without tree pits
One piece of good news is that following our advocacy and a series of complaints Auckland Transport and the Council’s arborist were able to agree on the inclusion of 4 new tree pits on the footpath between Rose Road and Williamson Ave (issues regarding the development contribution for undertaking the remedial work and how a giant area of concrete was installed without trees in the first place are still to be resolved).
City Centre Master plan review – first steps towards Vision Zero Auckland
The City Centre Master Plan (CCMP) was published in 2012 with nine outcomes and 36 targets. The Waitematā Local Board contributed to a review of the plan leading to new outcomes and targets being signed off by the Auckland Development Committee on 11 February 2016.
I am really pleased that following a request from the Board Outcome 7 has had the words ‘moving towards zero pedestrian deaths or serious injuries as a result of vehicle collisions’ added. This is a significant contribution to road safety and is the first time the principle of “Vision Zero” has been adopted under Auckland Council.
I attended the Zone 1 meeting in Whangarei on 26 February for Local Government NZ delegates in the Auckland and Northland area.
We received presentations from Malcolm Alexander, CEO of LGNZ and Ernst Zollner, Regional Director of NZTA.
An issue I brought up at the zone meeting was my disappointment and incredulity (shared by many elected representatives) that LGNZ has announced a conference programme with zero female presenters. It is also surprising that a conference on the theme of “place making” appears to offer so little for Local Board members. It highlights to me that LGNZ is still struggling to respond to Auckland’s governance arrangements that established local boards representing more people than Dunedin.
Workshops and meetings
From 1 February – 29 February 2016 I attended:
- Waitematā Local Board workshop on 2 February
- Meeting to discuss the Board’s participation in Neighbours Day
- Auckland Transport meeting with representatives of Franklin Road residents to discuss the planning and timetable for the upgrade that is about to get underway
- Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 9 February in Grey Lynn
- Ponsonby Business Association Board meeting on 10 February
- Waitematā Local Board workshop on 11 February
- Draft domain master plan open day on 13 February (see Attachment A)
- Waitematā Local Board workshop on 16 February
- Monthly Transport portfolio catch up on 17 February
- Community portfolio meeting on 18 February
- Community Empowerment Unit and Local Board Central Cluster Portfolio Holder meeting on 18 February to meet the new leadership team of the Unit
- Waitematā Local Board workshop on 23 February
- Annual Budget 2016/17 consultation meetings:
- Western Bays Community Group AGM and presentation
- Grey Lynn Residents Association meeting
- Parnell Community Committee meeting
- Inner City Network meeting
- Meeting to discuss the development of the Uptown Business Association brand on 24 February
- Attended the Governing Body extraordinary meeting to discuss the “out of scope” Unitary Plan zoning proposals
- Richmond Rovers Community meeting on 24 February to discuss the club’s alcohol licence with local residents
- BID policy workshop with representatives from Ponsonby Business Association and Parnell Inc
- LGNZ zone 1 meeting on 26 February in Whangarei
- Community Empowerment Unit’s open day on 29 February
Events and functions
From 1 February – 29 February 2016 I attended:
- Associates breakfast – urban design, cycling and transport discussion on 4 February at Scarecrow café
- Joined the anti- TPPA protest on 4 February
- Attended the Waitangi celebrations at Takaparawha as a zero waste volunteer with Christopher Dempsey on 6 February
- Go by Bike Day pit stop on the Lightpath on 9 February
- Phantom of the Opera at the invitation of ATEED on 11 February
- The Book of Everything at Q Theatre at the invitation of Silo Theatre on 12 February
- Rock in Grey Lynn Park on 13 February (free music in parks event)
- Polo at Sky Theatre at the invitation of the Auckland Theatre Company
- The Big Gay Out in Coyle Park on 14 February
- Elected representatives and Local Board staff lunch time ride for the Auckland Bike Challenge on 18 February
- Auckland Philharmonia Grand Opening concert at the Auckland Town Hall on 18 February at the invitation of APO
- Lantern Festival opening function at Auckland Museum on 19 February
- Opening of Parnell Trust’s new offices in the Jubilee building, Parnell on 23 February
- Grey Lynn Business Association networking drinks
- Blessing for the Board’s new offices at 52 Swanson Street on 25 February
- The Board supported Myers Park Medley on 27 February
- Official party at the Citizenship ceremony in the Town Hall on 29 February