All plans are go for Wellington as WCC hits mid-term mark
The city is tracking well to deliver on its promises to Wellingtonians as it approaches the halfway point of its triennium, Mayor Justin Lester says.
‘’We are at the halfway point, so it is a good chance to stop and take stock of how far we have come in the past 18 months. I’m proud that the Council has made significant progress on the majority of what we have set out to achieve,” the Mayor says.
“The earthquake and the resulting focus on resilience have added an extra dimension to our work, but the Council has been able to balance the pressing need to invest time and resources in resilience initiatives with forging ahead on the list of things Wellingtonians tell us they care about.”
The Mayor says housing issues have been mentioned consistently in the triennium and the Council has multiple approaches planned or already under way.
“We’ve developed a Wellington affordability tool, enacted a rates rebate for first-time home owners building a home or buying off the plans, are responding to homelessness by partnering with the Government on Te Whare Oki Oki and enhanced funding for homelessness initiatives, are building new social houses, and we’ve just made the first foray into apartment conversions in the CBD, which is a first for local government in New Zealand.”
Other highlights are: the improvements to the Town Hall, which will get underway later this year; Predator Free expanded across the entire city, with 5000 households volunteering to work on it and projects funded in the LTP; and funding for the creation of an annual Matariki festival.
“There are a lot of major projects we know Wellingtonians are eager to see delivered. Improvements to the Town Hall are under way and, as a Council, we are also working hard in the background to make sure the Movie Musuem and Convention Centre comes to fruition,” the Mayor says.
“We’ve also said from the start that we want to be New Zealand’s Capital of Culture. We’ve budgeted $127 million towards that over the next 10 years. There’s no doubt we’re putting our money where our mouth is.”
Progress has also been made on transport.
“Let’s Get Welly Moving will report back soon with its recommended proposals. We expect it will identify significant investment in our public transport to ease congestion on our streets and re-imagine Wellington’s CBD. I have little doubt that Wellington will say yes to mass transit, and that’s going to be transformative. We also continue to roll out our cycling network across Wellington to make roads safer.”
The Mayor credits the hard work of councillors and officers for the results of the triennium to date.
“What we have is a Council that understands there’s a lot happening, and that we’ve got to pull together to keep it all going. Everyone is contributing positively in their respective portfolios.”
A decision on Shelly Bay is awaiting the conclusion of court proceedings, and the airport extension is pending a decision by the Civil Aviation Authority.
“Obviously there are some things we are in more control of delivering than others, but on our partnership projects we are steadfastly committed to working well with stakeholders to get things done,” the Mayor says.
“When you are making decisions for the future of the city, there are several checks and balances you have to go through for Wellingtonians to be satisfied and that’s the reality of the job.”
The current Council was elected in October 2016 for a period of three years, and included a new Mayor and six new councillors.
The triennium so far:
• Unreinforced Masonry Programme – Close to 90% of owners have works under way.
• Omororo Reservoir (Prince of Wales Park) – project approved, consents under way and construction funded in LTP.
• Water resilience – partnered with Government to fund resilient local water provision in event of disaster.
• Smart buildings – accelerometer funding to measure earthquake effects on buildings in year 2 of LTP.
• LED street lighting – new LED lighting installation under way for all Wellington streets.
• One-stop shop for consents – Go Shift portal operating (https://goshift.co.nz/apply-online), piloting trials of new systems for processing with regular applicants.
• Rates increase of around 3% – Annual Plan 2017/18 has rates increase of 3.4% and LTP 2018/19 proposes a rates increase of 3.9%.
• Reduce alfresco dining fees for local eateries – done.
• Long haul air connections – good growth on Wellington to Singapore (via Canberra and, soon, Melbourne).
• Lombard Lane upgrade close to completion
• Makara Peak mountain bike master plan – under way, much already completed.
• Cheaper public transport fares – GWRC froze fares for one year, will then transition to off-peak discount and student concession fares.
• Student concession public transport fares – done.
• Easing congestion via tunnel projects at Mt Vic and The Terrace and cut-and-cover tunnel at the Basin Reserve - actively working on this with Let’s Get Welly Moving.
• Rolling out a safe cycling network – Hutt Road being constructed, Island Bay compromise confirmed, Oriental Parade and Cobham Drive under way.
• Mass transit – planning underway.
• Miramar parking issues – 24hr parking limit implemented to reduce problems.
Protecting our Local
• Accelerate electric vehicle infrastructure – well under way and will continue to grow.
• Predator Free Wellington – under way across the city and Miramar zero pest project funded in LTP. Some 5000 people working on it.
• Pressure the Government to reduce single use plastic bags – both major supermarket chains will phase out bags in the second half of 2018.
• Reducing waste to landfill – under way using waste levy funding to operationalise the plan.
Invest in Libraries, Pools and
• Johnsonville Library construction under way, playground renewals funded
• Strathmore community facilities improved.
• Newtown Community Centre refurbishment process under way.
• Free entry for under 5s and Guardians at Council pools – done.
• Retain Jack Ilott Green – report coming to City Strategy Committee on 5 April.
Make Wellington the Cultural
• Prioritise pakiTara-toi by bringing more art to Wellington buildings and streets.
• Help establish CubaDupa as a major event – done.
• Prioritise performing arts funding – done.
• Develop Wellington Matariki event – inaugural festival will take place June/July 2018.
Pay a Living Wage
• Raise the Council’s minimum to current living wage – done.
• Expand living wage to cleaning and sanitation contractors – done.
• Accredited Living Wage Employer – currently being undertaken, plan for the end of this triennium.
• Mayoral taskforce on Housing – done.
• Converting under-utilised CBD buildings – currently negotiating first project.
• Invest in new social housing – about 300 new beds close to completion at the Arlington site in Mt Cook, to be tenanted from August 2018. Commitment to build 750 new homes over 10 years.
• Urban development agency for new affordable homes – working with central government.
• $5000 rates rebate for first home builders – introduced.
• Town Hall Refurbishment – Music Hub with VUW and NZSO, resource consent in.
• Site 9 and 10 at Waterfront upgrades – Site 10 well under way and site 9 in train.
• Island Bay cycleway – compromise solution confirmed.
• Convention centre and film museum – working closely with Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor.
• Airport runway extension – awaiting the outcome of the Supreme Court decision to refer the matter back to the Civil Aviation Authority.
• New Zealand’s first wet house – good progress, working with HNZ and MSD.
• Shelly Bay redevelopment – awaiting the judicial review outcome.