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Looking further ahead than ten years

by Justin Lester
Throughout its history Wellington has been a city of leadership and progress. We’ve been at the forefront of pivotal moments in our country’s history: women’s suffrage, homosexual law reform, nuclear-free New Zealand and marriage equality. We’re a city packed with creators, thinkers, dreamers, doers and lovers of life – where movements start and hikoi end.

Poet Lauris Edmond perhaps best described Wellington with her words:

“This is the city of action, the world headquarters of the verb.”

We are often wild, sometimes calm, but always with an energy that is absolutely positive. With that sense of energy and leadership in mind, we’ve articulated a 10-Year Plan that will shape the foundations and ethos of Wellington for the next 50 years.

We’ve consulted widely and listened carefully. We’ve built our 10-Year Plan into a vision based on resilience and our natural environment, affordable housing, a modern transport network, being New Zealand’s cultural capital and a sustainable local economy.

As New Zealand’s capital city we want to continue to be a leader in everything we do. We plan to invest $2.31 billion in capital projects to ensure Wellington remains safe, inclusive, creative, sustainable and future focused, rather than grasping too tightly to the past.

We can invest in the city with confidence because we have a strong asset base. We have a Standard & Poor’s credit rating of AA, the highest of any council in the country and higher than central government, if it were technically possible. If Wellington was a residential homeowner, we’d have the equivalent of a $160,000 mortgage on a house worth $600,000.

Having a resilient city is our first priority. Wellingtonians are well aware of the environment they live in; the city lies smack bang in the middle of the Roaring 40s, on a large volcanic rock with four major faults cutting across it and bounded by the Pacific Ocean and Cook Strait.

Recent disaster events and awareness around the risks of climate change are a jarring reminder of the damage that can be done.

That’s why we’ll spend $280m on improving key transport corridors, wastewater and water infrastructure.

In the event of a big quake, South and East Wellington could face long wait times to restore their water supply because of their distance from our water sources in Lower and Upper Hutt.

We’re budgeting $118.5m on protecting the water supply, including building 22 community water stations across Wellington. They will consist of low-profile water bladders supplied by bores or streams, placed so that everyone can be within 1km of a water source following a quake.

We are also building Wellington’s largest reservoir, holding 35 million litres of water, under Omāroro Park in Mt Cook, to service the hospital, CBD, Newtown and Mt Cook.

As well as the bricks and mortar efforts, people are backing the council’s proposal to spend money to make Wellington a better environment – such as the ambitious goal of making the Miramar Peninsula completely predator-free before we turn our focus to the wider city.

There will be $3.6m spent over the next decade, including funding for community groups trapping possums, rats and mice. The work will build on efforts by thousands of volunteers, which has lifted native bird numbers from local extinction like the kaka, hihi and tieke and, in the tui’s case near-extinction, to thriving populations.

Wellingtonians have a strong sense of compassion and have stated they are keen for the council to tackle social problems.

Our second priority is to invest further in social and affordable housing so people can afford to live in Wellington. Wellington City Council is the second largest landlord in New Zealand and the only territorial authority increasing its social housing portfolio.

We will also establish Te Whare Okioki, a 24-hour supported living environment for the homeless and Wellington’s most vulnerable. Te Whare Okioki will also go some way to alleviating the problem of people living rough on city streets.

Transport and urban design are closely connected and often shape a city’s urban environment.

It’s our third priority, so we’ve set aside $122m to partner with NZ Transport Agency and Greater Wellington Regional Council to transform Wellington’s transport infrastructure and give us a modern, future-focused network. Our plans include light rail from the CBD to southern and eastern suburbs, prioritisation for walking and cycling, and removing arterial routes from our city streets.

Our vision is to double our CBD population in coming decades, to create a transport corridor that complements rather than severs our urban environment and to retain a focus on ensuring we have one of the world’s most liveable cities.

Our fourth priority is to ensure Wellington is and remains the culture capital of New Zealand.

That status will be reinforced with $16m budgeted for major cultural events such as WOW, Wellington on a Plate, the New Zealand Festival and Matariki.

We will invest $111m in cultural venues to ensure their ongoing future and enhance their accessibility for artists and we are creating new funding streams for the performing arts to support local careers and projects.

We want to add to the city’s creative attractions and our plans include money for a Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor-inspired movie museum opposite Te Papa, and for a new indoor arena.

Our arts and events focus will form a core part of our local economy. We’re also streamlining the way Council interacts with local businesses. We’re ditching unnecessary charges, creating a consistent on-line portal for building and resource consents and a single point of customer interaction, and supporting local start-ups to help them to grow.

Pleasingly, 72 percent of more than 2000 respondents to our 10-Year Plan have told us they agree with the vision we have for Wellington, with only 7 percent disagreeing. The city’s future was also strongly represented, with 19-30-year-olds making up 25 percent of submitters, despite being just 19 percent of the city’s population. Nearly 50 percent of submitters were aged 40 or under.

It’s impressive that young Wellingtonians are taking an active interest in their city’s future. They’re the ones for whom the majority of our decisions should be made and they’re the ones who will see the results of the seeds that are currently being sown.

Justin Lester is the mayor of Wellington.

31 comments:

  1. Patrick Morgan, Cycling Action Network, 23. May 2018, 16:43

    Good to see the Mayor endorsing modern transport, including “light rail from the CBD to southern and eastern suburbs, prioritisation for walking and cycling, and removing arterial routes from our city streets.”
    No mention of another Mt Vic tunnel or 4 lanes to the planes. Good.

     
  2. Ben Schrader, 24. May 2018, 13:57

    While I endorse much of what Justin says, I take issue with his belief that Wellington should remain ‘future focused, rather than grasping too tightly to the past.’ To the contrary, we need to grasp the past very tightly. Without knowing how we arrived at the present, we go into the future only partially focused. This can lead to unexpected falls.

     
  3. TrevorH, 24. May 2018, 15:49

    @ Patrick Morgan: your cyclist solipsism is showing. All we hear from cyclists are demands for more and more facilities for a tiny proportion of the population while everyone else can go hang.

     
  4. Mike Mellor, 24. May 2018, 16:51

    TrevorH: you seem to have missed that what you’re hearing here from cyclists (and from the Mayor) is support for “light rail from the CBD to southern and eastern suburbs, prioritisation for walking and cycling, and removing arterial routes from our city streets”. That will be great for the city, to the benefit the vast majority of the population.

    And Ben Schrader is right, too: the past is what has the made the city. We need to build on that, not let it go.

     
  5. Ross Clark, 24. May 2018, 22:36

    “… light rail from the CBD to southern and eastern suburbs, prioritisation for walking and cycling, and removing arterial routes from our city streets.”

    I cannot see this proceeding without a clear commitment from Central Government to pay at least three-quarters of the costs. Mr Lester needs to be upfront about this.

     
  6. luke, 24. May 2018, 22:57

    trevor you do not judge the need for a bridge by the number of people swimming across a river. Same with our current cycle network. If you could call it that.

     
  7. Kerry, 25. May 2018, 8:42

    Trevor
    You are missing the point. More facilities for drivers doesn’t work, and Auckland’s massive Waterview motorway tunnels are already running out of spare capacity. On the other hand, converting a traffic lane to a cycleway increases its people-carrying capacity about five-fold. It is far cheaper than more traffic lanes and far more effective. Better still, health benefits are a big bonus.
    Cycle lanes are little-used because they are incomplete, leaving cyclists too exposed for many trips, and necessary because many motorists seem incapable of sharing the road safely.
    A target Justin might wish to pick up is completing a cycleway network quickly: Barcelona completed its network in four years (temporary facilities such as in Bond St can help). London now has cycling ‘super-highways’ and is expecting more people-kilometres on cycles than in cars, within a few years.
    And then there’s Copenhagen…

     
  8. Catarina, 25. May 2018, 10:14

    Great quote at the beginning too! I’m excited to live here for the next decade!

     
  9. Russell Tregonning, 25. May 2018, 12:53

    Big ticks for Mayor Lester’s plans for more secure water, predator–free initiatives, & better accommodation, including that for the homeless. Also plans for a more liveable city achieved by including walking, cycling & light rail infrastructure—light rail should be put in before any thought of more road tunnels and 4L2Tplanes which will do the opposite. Re arts promotion, work to finish the town hall refurbishment with its superb acoustics should precede new ventures–not mentioned.
    Also, he makes no mention of the runway extension and the huge Shelly Bay private development—both should be abandoned because of the urgent need to consider climate disruption and sea level rise –none of these words appear.

     
  10. Vicki Greco, 25. May 2018, 21:04

    The problem is that unless you agree with what Justin and his cycling friends have to say you will be ignored.

     
  11. michael, 26. May 2018, 9:17

    I absolutely agree we need cycleways BUT NOT until we have a confirmed, agreed coherent holistic transport plan first. Until we know whether we are going to have light rail or for the next 10 years be left exposed to continuous pollution from the diesel fleet while arguments continue, there is no point in spending millions on cycleways. After the grand transport plan is finally agreed to, it will become apparent that many of the cycleways will need to be relocated.

     
  12. luke, 26. May 2018, 9:31

    the island bay nimbys have been far from ignored.

     
  13. Guy, 26. May 2018, 9:44

    Vicki Greco – perhaps you would like to tell the rest of Wellington what your issue is. You keep going on about how you want Island Bay Parade returned to exactly how it was, with an unsafe cycleway. That’s not going to happen. What is your problem?

     
  14. Marion Leader, 26. May 2018, 9:47

    This emphasis on cycling discriminates against those who are too old or ill or handicapped to use a bicycle. Whenever the young and fit preach on the subject can they detail the effects on others please?

     
  15. Bob the Bushtail Possum, 26. May 2018, 13:35

    ‘Predator Free’ will engender cruelty for us small mammals in Wellington. What is wrong with some hedgehogs, rabbits, field mice, Kiore rats, possums and Wallaby wandering about the city? Seems to me it’s all in the beady eye of the humans in control. Indeed, I’d like to mix and mingle with some red squirrels as, like hedgehogs, they aren’t doing so well back in the UK. They’d brighten up the town belt and add to diversity much like human immigration has from around the world.

     
  16. TrevorH, 27. May 2018, 12:54

    The obsession with light rail defies logic. It is very expensive, inflexible and would be shut down in a moderate earthquake leaving thousands stranded. Officials have told the government that a dedicated bus corridor using advanced bus technology would be a third the cost of the proposed light rail system for Auckland and just as effective. The same probably applies here. Cycling will remain a minority pastime in Wellington and has very limited utility as a transport mode.

     
  17. Peter Barlow, 27. May 2018, 19:57

    A complete segregated cycle network needs to be available for health and sustainability for the people of Wellington. With vision we can get there.

     
  18. Barbara S, 27. May 2018, 22:20

    Good old Bob the Bushtall Possum standing up for the small mammals. Us humans have let power go to our heads. Where is the compassion for the small mammals we humans brought to this country?

     
  19. Citizen Joe, 27. May 2018, 22:36

    @Bob the Bushtail Possum – Really sorry mate but humans in New Zealand (who arrived here pretty late in biological terms) only want the mammals they can make money out of. That means cows, sheep and deer. We tried you possums but we couldn’t make much money out of you even though the Department of Conservation sells your fur as socks and balaclavas. I’ve got to say being an aussie import doesn’t help you (or your Wallaby mates). So sorry from a compassionate human for all the cruelty and ill will imposed on you.

     
  20. michael, 27. May 2018, 23:15

    The obsession with cycleways for the minority seems to be an excuse not to deal with the obvious problem of public transport and gridlocked Wellington.

     
  21. Ian, 28. May 2018, 9:05

    TrevorH’s desire to have a dedicated bus lane from the Terrace Tunnel to the airport would certainly solve the congestion problem for buses and help liberate the people of Te Aro. Digging Karo Drive down to a lower level to make a two-way busway would reduce congestion and would be cheap, as buses could use the existing Mt Victoria tunnel and cars could go the ‘other ways’. Cycles being allowed to share the bus lanes would solve that problem too, but all buses would need to be electric.

     
  22. TrevorH, 28. May 2018, 9:27

    @ Barbara S: I very much agree with you and Bob. We should treat all animals humanely regardless of species. I am appalled by the hysterical fervor of the “predator-free” witch-hunt. Where there are humans there will always be rats. It’s been that way since at least the neolithic when humans began to raise crops and store food.

     
  23. Kerry, 28. May 2018, 11:13

    TrevorH. Wrong, wrong and wrong. Wellington’s bus route is grossly overloaded, and is already carrying more than enough passengers to make the overall cost of light rail—capital and operating—cheaper than buses.
    Light rail in other ‘ring of fire’ cities, including Christchurch, has stood up well to earthquakes.
    Inflexibility is an advantage because it is a long-term commitment, justifying substantial property investment and rates revenue.
    Auckland is well past “officials have told…” and Wellington is heading that way.

     
  24. John Rankin, 28. May 2018, 11:31

    @TrevorH makes a big claim: “Officials have told the government that a dedicated bus corridor using advanced bus technology would be a third the cost of the proposed light rail system for Auckland and just as effective.”

    Perhaps he could share with us the names of the cities that have successfully implemented this advanced bus technology and delivered the same capacity as light rail (up to 10,000 passengers per hour), using the same amount of road space (2 dedicated lanes).

     
  25. Dave B, 28. May 2018, 12:24

    I biked into work today as I regularly do, rain or shine, but I have to say I can understand why many would not choose to on a day like this. It was a bit rough battling into the southerly rain. Good for the soul though!

     
  26. syrahnose, 29. May 2018, 21:11

    “… 72 percent of more than 2000 respondents to our 10-Year Plan have told us they agree with the vision we have for Wellington, with only 7 percent disagreeing. The city’s future was also strongly represented, with 19-30-year-olds making up 25 percent of submitters, despite being just 19 percent of the city’s population. Nearly 50 percent of submitters were aged 40 or under.”

    kinda says it all. Anyone who’s taken a 101 course in stats would instantly recognize this as an intentionally biased sample. Nothing to be proud of nor base a propaganda line around. More troubling is the bulk of submitters aren’t the ratepayers being milked to fund some of these fantasies.

     
  27. syrahnose, 29. May 2018, 21:27

    ‘We are also building Wellington’s largest reservoir, holding 35 million litres of water, under Omāroro Park in Mt Cook, to service the hospital, CBD, Newtown and Mt Cook.’

    The one good piece of information that Wellingtonians are being looked after well.

     
  28. syrahnose, 29. May 2018, 21:38

    ‘That status will be reinforced with $16m budgeted for major cultural events such as WOW, Wellington on a Plate, the New Zealand Festival and Matariki.’
    GMAFB. This is almost all old stuff ticking along at best. Hardly anything driven by the current visionaries.

     
  29. Boaz, 30. May 2018, 16:22

    Justin Lester should be impeached for allowing the destruction of the city-owned trolleybus asset.

     
  30. Vicki Greco, 1. June 2018, 21:02

    Guy. Island Bay had no cycling accidents for 10 years, then after the introduction of the current design there have been many some extremely serious accidents. When looking for a solution, you need to look at what is safe and works for all, not just a few cycling nimbys. But interestingly enough it’s less safe for cyclists also. We want a solution that’s safe and works for all road users.

     
  31. Andrew, 2. June 2018, 8:35

    Vicki, agree the design is poor. I have ridden it and the lack of visibility is concerning. Can I point out NIMBY means ‘not in my back yard’ so presumably you meant the inverse in your post.