So far this week; Fires, Climate Change, the first Mayoral contender (maybe), and Let’s Not Get Wellington Moving

A lot happening around Council this week so we get a head start before it really gets all out of hand with another update planned for Sunday.

It’s been all about the Marae Fire with the news dribbling out over the last few days. Quite a confused set of reporting from the Dominion Post and a confused response from the Council at times. We thought this post by Eye of the Fish’s Leviathan was a good summation.

Sad news this weekend that the Tapu te Ranga marae has burned to the ground. Sounds like the blaze burned so strongly that everyone on the south coast would have seen and smelled the conflagration. Just about every fire appliance and fire fighter was there, trying to save the structure, but to no avail.

Marae Fire

From burning buildings to burning smells and climate change. We all know that composting is a good thing, unless you are doing it in Aro Street on town belt land. In which case, the Council is going to come and seize your smelly stuff.

Officers have told Wilson to have the compost and its structures gone by this Friday. 

“If they are there after this time, council officers will remove the materials.”

Aro Valley’s vigilante community compost to be shut down by the Wellington City Council

We think the Council could have been a lot less heavy-handed and actually worked with the collective on getting it all compliant. Win win was entirely possible.

A bit of a redux from last week, saving money (not really, especially the $3.7 million ticket price for snow leopards) isn’t on the agenda all that much. Wellington Scoop picking up the questioning in this article.

Councillors last week had another debate on cutting costs. Cutting a $500,000 spend on planning the arena turned out to be the only saving on which they could agree. Other ideas including cancelling the rebuild of Frank Kitts Park (another unnecessary council project) were defeated, in spite of new concerns about the need to find millions more dollars to strengthen or rebuild the Central Library.

The many reasons why the covered arena is a dubious project have been argued here and here. Most recently, they were constructively spelled out by Wellington blogger Conor Hill, who believes that the council is totally and completely wrong

They’re not giving up on the arena

Which brings us to a possible new mayoral candidate. Conor Hill.

Angry man yells at clouds, and calls himself a wannabe Mayor. Keen on a  city with mean as public transport, affordable and awesome housing and heaps of other cool shit. Will also smack down a bunch of lazy thinking that is part of our civic debate. Bring it!

This is an introduction to me and Wellington and this is a starter pack for how I’d like to crank this city up a notch.

About Conor Hill

Frankly, his policies make more sense than most of the Council candidates around the city at the moment and are, in our opinion, far better than the current Mayor’s list. I suspect he would do quite well against Justin.

Back to climate change, the city gets an electric rubbish truck. Am I the only person who sees the irony in this?

Wellington City Council’s social housing sites will now be serviced by the city’s first fully electric rubbish truck.

Wellington welcomes first electric rubbish truck

Don’t count on the buses getting better anytime soon. In much fanfare the city this week teamed up with the GWRC to commit to faster buses. But, not until next year. That’s right, never mind the rest of this year, let’s wait until next year before we actually make some improvements.

“Getting our buses moving through the city faster, in dedicated bus lanes and using limited road space in a smarter way will be good for all Wellingtonians. Let’s Get Wellington Moving will eventually deliver a mass transit spine, but we’ve also recognised the need to deliver better bus priority now. Our shared ratepayers want a reliable and efficient bus system and bus priority is pivotal to achieving that. Both councils need to work together on this to be able to deliver successfully,” says Chair Laidlaw.

Two councils trying to make Wellington buses faster … but not till next year

Meanwhile, increasing numbers of people are heading back to cars. Never mind declaring a Climate Emergency, how about declaring a Public Transport Emergency, and sorting this mess out.

No doubt outrage next week as electric scooters hit Wellington.

Wellingtonians will finally be e-scootering from next week, after rideshare giant Uber confirmed it’s rolling out  its Jump scooters in the capital.

Wellington finally gets e-scooters as Uber’s Jump launches in CBD

No doubt Twitter will catch fire as everyone from pedestrians, cyclists, and those drivers of demon-cars will pile-on to the nasty electric monsters.

A proposed alcohol ban was defeated for Kelburn Park though one for Kilbirnie managed to skip through, according to Simon Marsh’s Facebook Page.

In a very confused press release from Tamatha Paul, a candidate for Lambton Ward this year, of which Kelburn is part, she said;

VUWSA President Tamatha Paul made clear in her oral submission that the idea behind ‘Save Fountown’ was not to encourage drinking in the park but rather engage students, as the traditional council process for consulting Wellington students has not been working.

Fountown has been saved!
WCC Alcohol Ban

Miramar, Lyall Bay, and Hataitai will be bracing themselves for an influx of street drinkers after introducing an alcohol ban in Kilbirnie. As we know, each time a ban is put in place, the bus stop drinking set simply move onto the next nearest suburb.

Suburbs surrounding Kilbirnie react to the news of the alcohol ban

Back to Council officers who had another kick at trust and transparency by denying Councillors information over a deal on a tiny park.

Committee chairwoman Iona Pannett asked council officers: “Why can’t we be transparent?”

Details of the Dixon St deal and the amount of money involved are being withheld from the public. 

John Vriens, a senior property advisor at WCC, said revealing details would let commercial operators see how council negotiations were carried out, which could harm future talks.

A valuation principle dictated in most cases the adjoining land owner would pay the best price, he said.

Vriens said releasing information on the deal would allow other commercial operators to “see how we do these things”. 

“That process of negotiation is not something we want to compromise ourselves in when we get into other similar commercial bargaining situations, that’s why it’s commercially sensitive.”

Wellington City Council’s property deals in spotlight again over pocket park

What a complete crock we say. Negotiation is negotiation and the tender process must be transparent and follow due process rather than being hidden under spurious reasons.

So far, the tender process they have been using has not worked out well, in my opinion. Increasing costs on just about everything even before projects get started is just one example of secret negotiations.

So, it’s another kick in the teeth for trust and the Council gets to spend our money in secret ways. Not good enough. Check out your central government cousins to see how to do this properly.

Finally, LGWM runs into problems again, before it’s even started, with an apparent fight on over what a second tunnel would be utilised for.

A stoush is brewing over the proposed use for Wellington’s extra Mt Victoria tunnel, with local councillors saying they never agreed it should be prioritised for public transport.

The confusion comes after Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the new tunnel, part of the $6.4 billion Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme, would give priority to buses, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Debate over extra Mt Victoria tunnel as regional and city councils say they never agreed to bus lanes

We only know one thing for absolute certain, we’ll see no additional tunnel in the next thirty years. After all, we only started discussing it in 1972…

One thought on “So far this week; Fires, Climate Change, the first Mayoral contender (maybe), and Let’s Not Get Wellington Moving

  1. As far as the Dixon Street Park is concerned the consultation process was anything but transparent.

    In 2016 a WCC public excluded committee meeting determined the encumbrance could be removed if there were NO unresolved objections from consultation..

    Then in 2017 Willis and Bond were given resource consent for a building that covered the site.

    And finally in 2019 WCC “consulted” with no reference to the Willis and Bond resource consent or agreed compensation with the council.

    7 out of 8 objections did not want the park removed and these are still “unresolved”. Yet council officers have recommended the encumbrance be removed.

    Consultation after resource consent etc in this case is nothing but a box ticking exercise and a waste of public effort for those who took the consultation seriously.


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