by Lindsay Shelton
The Wellington City Council is this week having another of its “extraordinary” meetings. This one is crucial for the city’s urban design – councillors will be voting to confirm opposition to the flyover which the Transport Agency wants to build at the Basin Reserve.
Dear Mayor and Councillors,
I have been requested by requisition under Standing Orders to call an Extraordinary Council meeting as follows:
Date: Wednesday 19 December 2012
Venue: Council Chamber, First Floor, Town Hall, Wakefield Street
… The purpose of the Extraordinary meeting ‘is to confirm Wellington City Council’s strong preference to seek an alternative option to the Basin Reserve Flyover proposed by NZTA (noting that alternatives range from tunnel to an at grade solution)’.
Councillors first voted on this subject in October last year, when Mayor Wade-Brown successfully moved a resolution, seconded by Councillor Lester, that the council oppose the flyover . By eight votes (Wade-Brown, Foster, Cook, Eagle, Lester, Pannett, Pepperell, and Ritchie) to seven (Ahipene-Mercer, Best, Coughlan, Gill, Marsh, McKinnon and Morrison), the council agreed, and told the government that cut-and-covering the road would produce a better outcome for the city than a flyover.
For the vote this week, we should expect more councillors to join the eight who voted against the flyover last year. The case against it has been persuasively (and repetitively) argued. There are not one but two alternatives – the Architecture Centre’s Option X, and Richard Reid’s option – both keeping traffic on the ground instead of up in the air.
Mayor Wade-Brown has been a consistent critic of the flyover plan. In August, when the Agency disregarded all the opposition and insisted on building it, she said the council would actively express its concerns about the environmental and urban design impacts. Such concerns will be part of the council’s case opposing the flyover if the project is taken to a board of inquiry next year.
In a concise and accurate comment when last year’s vote was taken, the Mayor said the flyover risked tearing the fabric and character of the city and would disconnect communities. “Tarting up the flyover option is like putting lipstick on a gorilla,” she told her fellow councillors. This week’s meeting will reveal how many councillors still think that a gorilla can be beautified.
A grandstand? A wall? A flyover … 
Things to come at the Basin? 
Public meeting votes against flyover 
Canadian recognition for non-flyover option 
The roar of traffic from the flyover 
Option X now $10m cheaper than a flyover 
With the Memorial Park tunnel, a flyover is nonsensical 
Civic Trust predicts inevitable squalor under flyover 
Flyover “will cut the city like a knife,” say architects