One of the final decisions I made as a Chair of the Waitematā Local Board was to approve Auckland’s first localised Urban Ngahere Action Plan. The plan is a road map for replenishing the urban forest and delivering on Auckland Council’s Urban Ngahere (Forest) Strategy to achieve the goal of 30% tree cover by 2050. There are now 16 local boards who have either finalised or are in the process of taking Waitematā’s lead on their own plan. There are numerous benefits associated with having, developing and maintaining a flourishing urban forest.
If the Recovery Budget is supported with a one off 5% rates rise there will be an additional $14m to invest in growing our urban and rural forests. We will be able to plant an additional 11,000 street trees. We will be able to partner with the community to establish a nursery and produce 200,000 native seedlings a year to support community and marae planting. There will be funds for planting an additional 200 ha of native forest. Surveying is currently underway to determine locations for street trees targeting local board areas with the lowest canopy cover. This is part of a package of proposals to address climate change in addition to the planting and ecological restoration already underway.
We are currently deep into the second year of the Mayor’s million tree initiative. The goal of planting between 250,000 and 350,000 trees was well overshot last year by focusing on 4 major sites for new trees. The Waitematā Local Board area has had an overall increase in canopy cover from 368ha of urban forest in 2013, increasing to 371ha in 2016/2018. This provides a promising indication that clearance of trees is not occurring as has widely been predicted even with the removal of tree protection rules over a decade ago.
All trees will reach a stage where they become unwell or unsafe, so if we can plan for the future we can achieve much better outcomes. The Recovery Budget supports a 10 year programme that takes a long-term view of tree management and planting. Trees aren’t like other infrastructure, if they are planted properly they will give dividends well into the future. I fully support the Tupuna Maunga Authority taking this long-term view to plan for the restoration of indigenous native ecosystems. The removal of inappropriate exotic weeds and trees is part of that process.
Wynyard Quarter is one of the best examples of planting to a masterplan. There are now over 800 maturing trees many of which have been successfully moved from Quay Street. However, planting is becoming more challenging because of changing weather patterns. Last year there was barely a winter. This year the traditional planting season is likely to move to July until September. In all maintenance contracts there are now standard clauses to ensure streets trees are well looked after for two years before being handed over as council assets.
When tree removal is required, for example, for much needed housing, improvements to community amenities or for safety, council has to ensure proper processes are followed, mitigation is provided for and appropriate tools are used to protect significant trees. At Western Springs I want to see council push ahead to remove the unsafe and failing pine trees so significant planting can get underway during the planting season and the track opened up again for the community (read more about the Western Springs Native Bush restoration project here on the Auckland Council website). The long-term benefits will be enjoyed by generations to come.
This report covers the period 15 August until 11 September 2018 including the start of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 10 – 16 Mahuru.
Ko te reo te taikura ō te whakaaro marama
Language is the key to understanding
He pai ake te iti i te kore
A little is better than none
Waitematā Local Board August business meeting
At our monthly board meetings, we are fortunate to welcome a range of presenters to an often lively and interesting public forum. Our August business meeting was especially well attended with presentations from:
John Elliott – Non-toxic non-herbicidal spray method
Elizabeth Walker and Sel Arbuckle of STEPS – Western Springs plantings on lava flow forest
Caitlin McIlhagga General Manager 95bFM – Presentation about 95bFM does and how it is involved with the community (photo right)
Jennifer Ward, Chris Bailey and Paula Wilkinson of Community- Led Design Group – 254 Ponsonby Road
Chris O’Brien, Chairman Laura Fergusson Trust; Rob Small -Trustee Laura Fergusson Trust and Simon Wilson, Managing Director Heineken Urban Polo – Heineken Urban Polo Tournament
Graeme Easte, Albert-Eden Local Board Member – Meola Creek Catchment Update
2006 – 2015 Urban Forest Canopy Changes in the Waitematā Local Board area
Last term the board initiated LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) mapping to understand changes in the urban tree canopy. It has taken some time for the results to be presented due to a number of technical challenges. At our August meeting we received the draft ‘Tree loss in the Waitematā Local Board over ten years (2006 – 2015)’ report funded as part of the Waitematā Local Board’s 2017/2018 urban forest framework project
The report highlights that the amount of tree loss in the Waitematā Local Board area 2006-2015 is 61.23 hectares (approximately 17 per cent) and that 65 per cent of the urban forest clearance has occurred on private land. This does not include the growth of new,canopy. Further analysis work is underway and will be the subject of a subsequent report.
A significant part of the tree loss has been caused by the removal by the former central government of Council’s general tree protection rules so we urge the Governing Body to advocate to government to change the law to enable Auckland Council to reintroduce general tree protection rules.
Western Springs Lakeside Park Development Plan consultation
A draft park development plan for Western Springs Te Wai Ōrea Lakeside Park was out for consultation until the end of August.
The Board held an open day at the park playground on 18 August (photo right Deputy Chair Shale Chambers and member Adriana Christie with local resident Chuck Joseph). A number of people gave feedback not just about the park plan but about concerns over current maintenance issues.
I logged these issues and in response received the following updates:
Bird numbers no longer managed – unfortunately we missed the opportunity last Spring to train our contractors in conjunction with the Zoo hence the rise in bird numbers this year. We are now working with our contractors and the zoo and will undertake the seasonal addling of the eggs this Spring.
Paths no longer swept – all bird poo washed into the Lake – Paths are blown and water blasted once a week and are contractors are aware that bird faeces should not be washing into the lake. We have reiterated this with our contractor and we have increased the frequency of water blasting to 3 x a week as of Tuesday this week.
Broken drinking fountains – There are a couple of water fountains that have no active water pipe feeding it due to them being broken by tree roots coming up through the concrete. These have not been working for a number of years and this will be addressed as part of the Western Park project works.
Broken toilets at the playground with dirty Portaloo replacements – The zoo is constructing a new administration building on the site of a previous building that has been removed. Unfortunately, when the Zoo staff began work it was discovered that the western spring toilet had been connected to this facilities waste water line. This was unknown to the zoo project team and was not recorded on any plans so reinstatement of the sewer line was included in the design for the new building. Community Facilities are working with the zoo project team and have devised a methodology for a new connection, so we can recommission the toilets. Whilst the work may not be expensive it is complex given the significant amount of volcanic rock and protected trees along the pathway for a new connection. The new work will require a consent and arborist approval before works can commence. We hope to have the toilets reinstated before the summer season starts.
In the interim alternative facilities are provided and these are cleaned twice daily with the expectation this meets the same outcome as permanent toilets by way of cleanliness. If this is found not to be the case a request for service can be called through and our contractor will attend.
Broken light in toilet block in park – disconnected due to the works going on at the Zoo.
We also received positive feedback from “Friends of Fukuoka Gardens” community group who have been working directly with contractors to improve maintenance of the Japanese garden.
It is proposed that issues such as water quality and bird feeding will be addressed through the plan.
Salisbury Reserve consultation and removal of the Masonic Lodge
Consultation on the two options for opening up the entrance to Salisbury Reserve ended at the end of August. During the month I met on site with both local residents and representatives of the Herne Bay Residents Association. I confirmed that the local board doesn’t intend revisiting the decision to remove the Masonic Lodge building for a number of reasons:
We don’t have a budget to upgrade it, to cover operational costs nor to pay for a change to the required resource consent (which will be opposed by local residents).
There is no evidence of a need for another community facility serving Herne Bay.
Current facilities including Leys Institute Hall and the Vermont Centre are not at capacity. I also provided the occupancy stats below of local facilities that directly report to Council.
The reserve is not large enough to support two community facilities.
There are minimal heritage values associated with the building as it has been through so many alterations.
The standard available hours in 10h/day and the percentages below is based on the standard.
Utilisation FY16/17 FY17/18
Leys Institute Hall 16% 20%
Freemans Bay Community Hall 38% 39%
Grey Lynn Community Centre 55% 53%
Ponsonby Community Centre 37% 36%
Leys Institute Gym 59% 57%
Central City Library opening hours
The board made funding available so the Auckland Central City Library can open for an extra hour on Saturdays and Sundays from September 1. Funding is guaranteed until 30 June 2019.
John Street, Ponsonby – a trial for a new “healthy streets” approach
As a narrow street and rat run John Street in Ponsonby has suffered from a number of parking, traffic and safety issues going back some time. The transport portfolio has been following up with a group of residents who would like to be part of the solution. They are keen for John St to be used to showcase AT’s new approach to safer, healthier streets which are designed for all road users not just cars.
On 18 August I met with residents on the street to discuss potential options. I confirmed that the Local Board is pushing AT to use all the tools available to improve the conditions of John Street. AT is currently preparing a proposal for consultation.
Grey Lynn Parking
The local board passed the following resolution at our business meeting on 21 August in response to the parking concerns that have been raised with us in response to a letter drop to 600 Grey Lynn households opposing a proposed time restricted parking zone.
MOVED by Chairperson P Coom, seconded by Deputy Chairperson S Chambers:
That the Waitematā Local Board:
receive the Auckland Transport August 2018 update report
request Auckland Transport to implement the proposed new Arch Hill and Grey Lynn residential parking zone as soon as reasonably practicable and put on hold the proposed implementation of the timerestricted P120 zone that has not been consulted on until after an assessment has been made of the impact of the residential parking zone
request Auckland Transport work with the Grey Lynn Residents Association to identify suitable locations for P120 restrictions.
In response to the resolution AT has confirmed that the RPZ implementation will be brought forward to December and they will put on hold the time restricted parking. Further details are on the Auckland Transport website.
Waitematā Safer Routes
New designs prepared by Boffa Miskell to fix the issues on the two Waitematā Safer routes were presented to Community Liaison Groups (CLGs) on 5 September. A few days later the NZ Herald reported that the Grey Lynn cycleway debacle could cost $35m to fix and claimed that the project was for a few “existing cyclists”. Grey Lynn Business Association co-chair Irene King was reported as saying that preliminary designs as “very, very stunning” with beautiful urban design and landscaping.
There is a lot that Auckland Transport has got wrong with this project and it should have been done correctly first time (I have previously reported on the background and what went wrong) but it is far is more accurate to describe the project as a street upgrade as it covers a safety improvements for everyone, bus stop changes, bus stop changes, traffic lights, parking, stormwater, landscaping and new trees. Auckland Transport has also confirmed the figure of $35m is incorrect and should not have been presented to the CLG. The actual projected cost for this project sits between $17m-$22m at present. AT has explained the figure of $35m was an initial costing that had long since been refined but was unfortunately inserted into the presentations to the CLGs and wasn’t caught until it was too late.
Auckland Transport plans to take the proposals out for consultation in Novembers so the wider community can decide what should be prioritised within the available budget.
My latest Ponsonby News column covers the 9th anniversary of speed reduction on Ponsonby Road and the speed bylaw proposals that are shortly to go out for consultation (Attachment 1). Deaths and Serious injuries (DSi) across Auckland have increased by 67% since 2013. In Waitematā 77% of all DSi involved vulnerable road users, people walking or cycling. This is the highest percentage among all Local Boards.
I was really pleased to see Auckland Transport’s CEO strong leadership and uncompromising statement on safer speeds in a letter to NZ Herald on 10 September (right).
On 5 September I attended a business strategy workshop in Wellington as a committee member of Trafinz. The New Zealand Local Authority Traffic Institute or Trafinz represents local authority views on road safety and traffic management in New Zealand. It exists to lobby the government, to influence decision making on road safety and traffic issues. It also acts as a forum for collectively pursuing traffic issues of interest to local authorities, and for sharing information and advice.
Trafinz is actively involved in the development of a new road safety strategy with a Vision Zero target.
Meetings and workshops: 15 August until 11 September 2018
Meeting with local residents on 15 August at the Masonic Hall regarding the Salisbury Reserve consultation
Auckland Paths working group meeting on 16 August
Meeting with Steve Mutton, Director Regional Relationships on 17 August
Met with John Street, Ponsonby residents on 18 August to discuss options to traffic calm and reduce volumes
Attended the Western Springs Development Plan consultation event held at the park on 18 August
Chair’s weekly meeting with the local board services team on 20, 27 August and 3 and 10 September
Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 21 August
LGNZ Zone 1 meeting on 24 August in Manukau
Spoke to Citizens Advice Bureau Grey Lynn/Ponsonby Branch volunteers on 27 August about the role of the local board
Board all day workshops on 28 August and 4, 11 September
Wynyard Quarter Transport Management Association meeting on 29 August
Meeting with Jeremy Hansen, Britomart Group on 29 August
Attended a Vision Zero meeting organised by Bike Auckland at Bizdojo on 29 August
Meeting with representatives of the Herne Bay Residents Association on 29 August the Masonic Hall regarding the Salisbury Reserve consultation
Interviewed by Grant Hewison regarding the Ponsonby Business Association strategic plan on 29 August
Auckland Domain Committee workshop followed by the public committee meeting on 30 August
Inclusive governance in a diverse Auckland workshop offered by the Kura Kawana Elected Member Development Programme with guest speaker Professor Paul Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor – College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University on 31 August
Kia whai whare atou katoa: Regional, cross-sectoral homelessness plan for Auckland workshop at the Fickling Centre on 3 September (photo right)
Meeting on 4 September with the Community–led Design Group to discuss 254 Ponsonby Road in preparation for the forthcoming Options Paper.
TRAFINZ workshop in Wellington on 5 September
Visit to Auckland Zoo for local board members on 6 September (photo right)
Catch up with City Centre Residents Group representative on 6 September
Transport portfolio catch up on 7 September
Meeting with Director Regulatory Services Penny Pirrit to discuss compliance issues at the helicopter boat shed construction on Sentinel Beach, Herne Bay
Attended the “Business Grey Lynn” organised community meeting at St Columba church on 9 September regarding the Representation Review consultation that closed on 11 September
Local Board Chairs’ Forum on 10 September
Ponsonby Business Association committee meeting on 11 September
Briefing by Heart of the City regarding their street guardians initiative
Events and functions: 15 August until 11 September 2018
Interview on 95 BfM on 15 August to discuss the development of green spaces
Opening night of Auckland Theatre Company’s Filthy Business at ASB waterfront Theatre on 16 August at the invite of ATC