News

The WCC week that was: LGWM spins its tires, apartment hell, public transport goes to the zoo, and we find Sarah Free (sort of.)

If LGWM were a car it would be impounded for loss of traction. No more answers to many, many questions this week across the news sphere including increasingly frustrated residents taking to Twitter to demand answers.

At the beginning of the week a small cluster, one, of local politicians suggested that the best thing we could do with Cobham Drive was to put traffic lights on it. But as the days rolled by “some Councillors”, one, spoke out against the idea as did Daran Ponter from the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

But the project is already facing scrutiny, with some councillors speaking out against the idea of installing traffic lights for pedestrians and cyclists, rather than building a bridge over the four-lane highway.

Let’s Get Wellington Moving: Calls to halt planned Cobham Drive pedestrian crossing

The one Councillor who spoke out in favour of traffic lights, his name rhymes with Hiss Hairy-Beeman, seemed to have missed the fact that nearly 7,000 of his own residents had already put it to the vote and found that a) they did not want traffic lights and b) they wanted a bridge of some description.

And no, we are not releasing the real name of Mr Hairy-Beeman as he’s getting far too much press of late I say!

But, oh god no, LGWM wasn’t done yet for the news week.

Justin Lester doesn’t want Wellington to be the last city in the world to build light rail.

If he gets his way, Wellington will be the first New Zealand city to get trackless trams instead.

At a Wellington Chamber of Commerce breakfast to discuss Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) on Wednesday morning, Justin Lester extolled the virtues of trackless tram technology to create a cheaper, wider-reaching public transport network than would be possible with light rail. 

Mayor Justin Lester favours trackless trams over light rail for Let’s Get Wellington Moving

Now, whenever I read “Trackless Trams” my brain translates it as “Feckless Trams.” I don’t know why. It might be because I remember trackless trams from spending time in Auckland on the bus network, where, wait for it, they had joined together buses that look almost the same as trackless trams.

Honestly, there has been so much debate on this that my head is just spinning. As is LGWM.

Tyres on trams and train tracks for buses, bus lanes for cyclists and curtains for scooters, car parks that go missing all tied up with hi-vis, these are a few of my least favourite things.

Give me raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens rather than LGWM please, I’m over it.

The Councillor who shall not be named was back in the press a couple of days later fronting the final death of the last three car parks in Wellington. I mean, advising we were being consulted via an “online forum” on what we thought.

The council’s online forum is available online.

Wellington’s decade-old car parking policies up for review

I’m glad the online forum is available online so we can go online to express our thoughts in an online forum.

Expect it isn’t a forum, which is where you would have back and forth debate about the various options and the merits of such with other residents, Council officers, existing Councillors, and probably the candidates that have so far joined the crazy train that is WCC Election 2019.

It’s one of those, in my opinion, bias questionnaires that we have come to know and love from the WCC.

Oh for god’s sake, we know you are hell bent on getting rid of all the parks so just be honest about it for goodness sake.

Onto more serious subjects, well, looking at subjects more seriously, the plight of apartment dwellers in the CBD is still coming to the public’s attention this week.

The challenge of paying for strengthening is also being faced by inner city residents whose apartment buildings have – like the library – fallen below tougher minimum earthquake resilience codes. Some are finding it unaffordable.

As a consequence, the inner city residents’ association is calling “an important and urgent meeting” next Thursday where the results of a survey are to be presented describing the effect on apartment owners and buildings, and setting out the actual costs of strengthening central city residential buildings.

The residents say the survey results are shocking.

They have been lobbying the Government and the City Council about what they see as unfair treatment of residential apartment owners. And today they said they’ve found a scheme in yesterday’s Budget which could be a starting point of support for owners, specially those unable to pay for the cost of strengthening.

Affording the cost

This is a major problem slowly being dragged out from under the rug, kicking and screaming, into the light. When the WCC is transfixed by filling the CBD with glittering apartments on land that is no doubt earthquake prone as well as facing rising sea levels and a lack of infrastructure we have a huge issue.

We hear anecdotally that more and more people are just getting out of the apartments and walking away. The WCC is going to have to face some tough realities around spending shortly with their own earthquake-houses mounting by the day.

How much exactly is Civic Square going to cost to strengthen, or knock down, and then rebuild? A billion? That’s the word on a few people’s lips around the traps.

After over a year of bustastrophe that has driven thousands of people back behind the wheels of their Danger Wagons (that’s cars), with the combined effort of the Council and after months of work, this happened.

The trial bus service between Wellington Zoo and Wellington Railway Station will be extended.

Bus service between Wellington Zoo and railway station extended following trial

And…

Wellington City councillor Fleur Fitzsimons said the trial showed what Wellington residents wanted.

“There is a real need for an off-peak bus service through Newtown to the zoo. This bus service was necessary and is well used. It is great news that the regional council has now committed to the off-peak zoo bus.”

Far be it from us to split hairs, but the regional council has committed to absolutely nothing and if this is the pace of progress on public transport getting fixed, then we might as well wait for the Feckless Trams.

Finally, WREMO came in for a bit of a serve this week as it seems they might not be quite as prepared as we thought they all were.

Riddle me this, where is your nearest Community Emergency Hub that you can access after a disaster to ask for and offer help?

Well, apparently they are missing in action for the most part.

So I conducted a quick survey. There are 37 Emergency Hubs in Wellington City. None of the dozen or more I looked at have location maps to enable recovery of the keys to access the damn things. None! From Seatoun to Crofton Downs, Worser Bay to Churton Park, they all bear the same legend: Under discussion. Even the most recently updated one. (Grenada Village, December 2018.)

WREMO – what a disaster

Ooops. A quick search of the nearest to me revealed the same information.

WREMO almost immediately responded, which is unusual in itself, somewhat got a serve I am guessing. In a lengthy post some hundreds of words long, I’m going to summarise it for you, they said;

WREMO is working with facility owners to create these maps for as close to 100% of Hubs as possible before the end of June 2019.

WREMO defends its policies for Community Emergency Hubs

Oh good.

Still sadly missing this week has been Simon Marsh, rather like the nearly mythical emergency hubs he is nowhere to be seen on the issues of Shelly Bay, Cobham Drive, and other issues.

But we did find Sarah Free, well, maybe, because she’s been hiding from Shelly Bay and LGWM as well we think.

Grants Subcommittee Chair Councillor Sarah Free says the range and diversity of the groups that applied for funding reflects the make-up of the capital today.

“We want to build on and embrace diversity – here in Wellington we value our differences, promote inclusion, and thrive in a diverse culture which is celebrated.

“The groups and projects that have been allocated funding in this round demonstrate how we support the changing face of our society, and make sure those who are most vulnerable are cared for and valued.”

Council funds focus on supporting stronger communities

Some good news to finish on for the week then, good work going on there.

But… I would bet a jug of beer, or non-alcholic beverage if you prefer, that she didn’t actually write those words, that one of the PR boffins at the WCC did instead.

Maybe she’s been kidnapped?

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