Green councillor’s symbolic victory
Regional councillor Paul Bruce scored a rare victory recently, albeit a token one.
As a Green Party member he has often found himself in the minority at the Wellington Regional Council table, but at the November 7 meeting a majority supported his motion to re-open discussions between the regional and city councils, and the NZ Transport Agency over roads around the Basin Reserve.
In the light of the Government’s decision to move Buckle St into a cut-and-fill tunnel, he wanted all options for freeing up public transport movement around the Basin Reserve back on the table, including the Architecture Centre’s Option-X proposal.
Judith Aitken supported Mr Bruce, saying the agency’s plan to run a flyover past the Basin Reserve was unacceptable, both visually and environmentally, and that it was a backward step in terms of encouraging modal shift; from motor vehicles to walking, cycling and public transport.
‘‘That shift will take a very long time but, nevertheless, this is a backward step,’’ she said.
Chris Laidlaw said the whole decision-making process leading to a decision to build a flyover road had been flawed but: ‘‘it is a fait accompli – there is nothing we can do about it’’.
‘‘We have debated it to death around this table and around the transport table.
‘‘ NZTA decision.’’
Daran Ponter and Nigel Wilson also supported the motion, the latter saying the Kapiti experience had shown NZTA to be untrustworthy.
Mr Bruce won out, with Mr Wilson, Ms Aitken, Mr Ponter, Gary McPhee and Sandra Greig voting with him, and Ms Wilde, Peter Glensor, Jenny Brash, Barbara Donaldson, Prue Lamason and Mr Laidlaw voting against.
After the meeting Ms Greig said it was ‘‘a token gesture’’ because the transport agency’s mind was already made up.
NZTA Wellington highways manager Rod James said the possibility of a tunnel at Buckle St had always been factored into the agency’s designs for the area.
‘‘Option A [the flyover] remains the most effective, feasible and affordable option for all forms of transport around the Basin Reserve, and provides benefits for public transport users,’’ he said.
‘‘ We have ruled out other options – a tunnel, Option X, and street level solutions – because these do not work as well in practice for pedestrians, cyclists, pedestrians or public transport users.’’