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Listening, and making a difference

by Diane Calvert
Submissions on the Wellington City Council’s draft 10 year plan have just closed. We doubled the number from last time, plus we heard from a lot more younger Wellingtonians.

Improving community engagement especially across all age groups doesn’t occur by chance nor by a few more social media posts. It takes a focus, a plan and resources, the opportunity to do things differently and support from across the organisation.

The team at the City Council have certainly delivered on this, judging by the significant increase in submissions.

But will it make a difference? That’s my intention as the Councillor leading the engagement portfolio. But you will need to be the judge of that once the final plan is signed off at the end of June.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’re also going to hear from people and groups who want to talk to their submission. What we have learned so far is resilience is top of mind for people, closely followed by transport and housing.

Encouraging more people to have a say is only worth the effort if you are willing to listen and reflect on what is said. We won’t however always be able to accommodate funding requests or agree with views expressed and there will be some tough decisions that may not be palatable for some.

I know some people may not have engaged on the 10 year plan because they thought “why bother, the Council never listens”. Changing those views will take time, more good engagement activity along with demonstrating that we do listen.

As a council, we have to be prepared to change our direction and views when previously unknown facts and views emerge. The earth gave us a significant jolt in November 2016 with the Kaikoura earthquake and subsequently jolted our thinking about many parts of our city.

A new government also provides different opportunities and challenges.

We also have to be pragmatic. This week, the council agreed to restore the Museum stand at the Basin Reserve instead of putting in flood lights. A much better use of the money especially if you take into account costs and time to demolish and landscape the area. On a smaller scale, we heard from the Newtown community that they wanted to see their library hours extended on a Saturday. We agreed to a trial for 12 months while acknowledging there will a wider and longer term review.

Could we have engaged better on the 10 year plan? Undoubtedly, even with the improvements already made.

However if we want sustainable ongoing improvement, ongoing increases to the trust and confidence levels of Wellingtonians in our decision making, and to ensure the prudent use of ratepayers’ funds, we need to be prepared to take a stepped approach to improving how we engage. We also need to continue to gather feedback on how we can engage better. Your views are always welcome.

Diane Calvert is a Wellington City Councillor and the council’s portfolio leader for Community Engagement and Community Planning

Read also:
Regional Council received only 791 submissions

15 comments:

  1. C. Lawless, 18. May 2018, 21:00

    Where is the business case by PwC to back Museum Stand redevelopment? How can the WCC sign off $7million without a Big Four accountancy report saying the plan stacks up? If Auckland needs a million dollar report for their proposed stadium, why can’t we have one for ours? It’s not fair.

     
  2. Citizen Joe, 19. May 2018, 18:28

    Hey, let’s be realistic @C. Lawless! PwC didn’t give an answer on the Auckland stadium for $930,000. Answering that would require far more work and presumably millions more dollars.

     
  3. R Murray, 20. May 2018, 13:08

    We don’t need Pwc EY etc sucking on the teat: we just need our council to publish realistic figures, including margins of errors, free from preferential bias: one would expect them to want those figures anyway.

     
  4. City Lad, 20. May 2018, 16:58

    PwC have leased newly built premises on Wellington’s waterfront. The City Council should have helped them pay their rent by giving them a job to evaluate the pros and cons of retaining the Museum Stand. Every little bit helps!

     
  5. greenwelly, 20. May 2018, 20:03

    @City Lad. Don’t worry too much, the Council are going to lease 5 floors in the old PWC tower (ie the space PWC are vacating).
    The building is described as
    “One of Wellington’s major high quality CBD towers … offers an extremely high standard of accommodation….upgraded to include remodelled and refurbished floors, high quality building services and the inclusion of the largest foyer café facility in the Wellington CBD. ”

     
  6. Rumpole, 20. May 2018, 21:33

    Climate change and the waterfront will soon become interesting. The old PwC building on The Terrace could become the Council’s permanent home. They’ll be able to look down on PwC staff rowing their dinghies to work.

     
  7. Michael Gibson, 21. May 2018, 8:32

    I’m concentrating on two issues which need clarity: 1/ the meaning of “affordable housing” and the need to have something affordable in places like Shelly Bay when the Council lashes out its support and our money for such projects and 2/ funding (or the lack of it) for the Garden of Beneficence in Frank Kitts Park. I have asked for replies to my O.I. requests about these and am still waiting.
    Having said that I add my admiration for what Cr Calvert is doing in her struggle against the odds.

     
  8. Diane Calvert, 22. May 2018, 10:03

    Thanks for your feedback, most of which seems spurred on by my comment re the Museum Stand. Here is the link to the full report presented to the committee last week. The report is at pg 47.

     
  9. Clyde44, 24. May 2018, 10:02

    Dianne. I would have thought around 2000 respondents providing feedback on the 10 year plan is a failure. The WCC website states the population in 2015 is 203,800 people and if you say a third of the people are of an age when they can reasonably provide feedback on the plan we are talking about feedback from around 3% of the people who live in Wellington city. And then how many of those 2000 or so submissions are from lobby groups. Perhaps it is time for the WCC to undertake a more inclusive form of consultation and genuine engagement.

     
  10. Andrew, 24. May 2018, 18:17

    What would you recommend Clyde44? If one cannot be bothered to submit on an issue, how do you encourage them to? Door knocking every residence in Wellington?

     
  11. Diane Calvert, 24. May 2018, 19:22

    @Clyde44 2,000+ formal submissions is double what we received last time, many which are from individuals. Whether it is an individual, lobby group, or community group, everyone is entitled to share their views.

    We did extensive advertising through many different channels including bringing Resident groups together, supporting a forum with the National Council of Women and our own Youth Council did a fantastic job in helping to raise the amount of submissions from younger people. That is just a few examples.

    We don’t discriminate, even if we disagree with their views and give everyone a chance to be heard in a safe environment. We took feedback online, by email, social media and even via postcards. We have provided forums for people to share their views, not just with Councillors but with other residents.

    So I think we did undertake a very inclusive consultation. However if you think otherwise and have suggestions, please let me know what we could do better for next time. Because we want to and we will.

     
  12. Vicki Greco, 25. May 2018, 21:01

    Hang on only 2000 submissions?? there were over 3700 for the Island Bay cycleway and you chose to ignore the majority. Like many felt it was a waste of time submitting.

     
  13. Andy Foster, 27. May 2018, 15:10

    To go back to the comments above on a business case for the Museum Stand. We didn’t have what I would consider a business case (would have been helpful in setting out the pros and cons).
    Not everything is easy to put into numbers but I know what I think a business case on this one should have considered, so just out of curiosity C.Lawless, Citizen Joe, Greenwelly, R Murray and City Lad, what would you have wanted to see in a ‘business case’.

     
  14. Susan Says, 31. May 2018, 8:40

    My suggestion Diane is that there are more sessions held in the evenings. I opted to attend the 7pm forum but it was unfortunately cancelled as only seven other people wanted to attend. I missed out. I wasn’t notified and had to chase it up myself so I also wonder if there were other people keen to come at this time but their email replies somehow got lost in the system. I now feel a bit cynical about consultation after my experience.

     
  15. Nora, 31. May 2018, 17:15

    Sympathise Susan as I opted to attend a forum (during the day) but there was no positive follow up so ended up the next week at a council meeting, not that all the councillors were there!