Wellington city councillor Helene Ritchie has today taken the unusual step of releasing a letter which she has sent to the council’s chief executive Kevin Lavery. In the letter, she expresses concern about the Basin flyover plan which she says would take Town Belt land to use for a pillar of the flyover. She says this would be contrary to a council decision.
To: Dr Lavery CEO Wellington City Council
Dear Dr Lavery,
I am in receipt of a Report 5: Basin Bridge Project Proposal which is to be voted on by the Council tomorrow 22 August.
There has been no more serious action this triennium or maybe ever on Council, which quite frankly shows callous disregard for and disrespect of Council, Councillors, our forefathers who established the Town Belt, the public and the Town Belt itself.
I am shocked and furious to see Recommendation 9 which in effect if passed, and then acted upon, nullifies a clear Council decision regarding protection of the Town Belt. Further, it causes in effect : causes precedent for future protection, undermines the future protection of the Town Belt, undermines future legislation (Council has decided on the drafting instructions for the Bill) which will add land to the Town Belt; undermines all the work that Council has done to protect and enhance the Town belt for future generations ( this triennium; undermines the role of Councillors as Trustees of the Town Belt; undermines the Deed protecting the Town Belt.
It also undermines submissions made by the public – and there were some 260 of them, that process of hearings and decision-making, the democratic process of decision-making and democracy itself.
Council cannot make such a U-turn on the protection of the Town Belt.
It is bound to draw legal challenge and should.
1. On 27 June 2013 Wellington City Council made a very clear and unanimous decision ..which said, “..That there be no voluntary agreement with the Crown over land taken compulsorily under the Public Works Act as that would be contrary to Council’s (Town Belt) trustee obligation.”
2. An attempt was made at Council and prior at the Town Belt subcommittee hearings meetings, by Councillor Foster, to delete that. That attempt failed and was significantly lost on the vote by his colleague councillors.
3. I am concerned that this report written by officers, and clearly approved by the Chair/ and Portfolio leader Councillor Foster – both in public statements and evidenced in the documents attached to the report recommends that Council note (ii that it is able…to consent to part of the Canal Reserve (i.e. Town Belt) being able to be declared road.”
4. This is clearly contrary to Council’s decision and no one has authority to do or to say this or to note this.
If any councillor is of a mind to revoke the unanimous resolution and decision of Council on 27 June 2013, to protect the Town Belt then there are processes to do that. I would not support that but the processes exist.
Some have argued that no mitigation can be possible for a huge concrete structure attracting more traffic, with dubious (stated) benefit even to traffic, with future detrimental climate change implications… Others have argued that it can proceed and the impact can be mitigated.
Further it has been argued that the piece of land being taken on the Canal Reserve is small. But the impact is hugely significant directly on the Canal Reserve itself. If the report is to be understood, the green space there may well be diminished in size for further roading and the remainder may be replanted…but it is already a green space.
Perhaps more relevant is that this piece of Town Belt land is pivotal to the entire Flyover project – because presumably the pillar which needs to rest on this Town Belt land is essential to the newly named (bridge)-flyover project and that if the project is to proceed there should be substantial compensation for the City..
In the meantime, I am asking you to ensure that Recommendation 9 properly reflects and states (and does not by implication revoke in any way), the Council decision (as above) regarding the Town Belt.
Please assure me and my colleagues who made their unanimous decision as a Council of the Capital City proud and wanting to protect the Town Belt; that that the wording will be changed to correctly reflect the Council’s resolution.
Because of the significant impact on the future of Wellington and the unanimous decision of Council, I am circulating this letter to the public.
Wellington City Councillor
Portfolio Leader Natural Environment