What else could a super-city do?
If in fact it Wellington becomes a super-city, half the population of the country would be in two local authorities.
Councils co-operating to manage water, regional transport and economic development have made any local authority amalgamations pointless, according to some politicians.
The Local Government Commission is expected to release a recommendation for possible council amalgamations in the region by the end of this month.
When Wellington Regional Council debated forming a joint regional economic development agency, councillor Sue Kedgley questioned whether there were any efficiency gains left to make, but not everybody agreed.
Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said it was all very well to group activities together, but unless councils made the same decisions, regionalism did not work.
‘‘ There are 32 planning documents among nine different councils around the region and people are paying for that,’’ he said.
Spatial planning was the most important thing to get right regionally, but it was not even being attempted.
‘‘One or two of the territorial authorities just refuse,’’ he said.
Upper Hutt mayor Wayne Guppy said the so-called benefits of a super-city had already been achieved without sacrificing local democracy.
‘‘Councils are doing it without actually losing local governance,’’ he said.
Acting Hutt mayor David Bassett said Kedgley made sense.
There was no need for change unless local authorities got together and requested it, he said.
‘‘If in fact it becomes a supercity here in Wellington, half the population of the country would be in two local authorities.
‘‘I have to say the regional council is putting together some quite good research with this.’’
Regional council chairwoman Fran Wilde said spatial planning was more than about where development should go now.
South Auckland had set an example by bringing together councils, government and business to identify their region’s long-term needs, what services would be needed, what children would need as they grew up, jobs, infrastructure and how transport infrastructure could be redesigned to work better.
‘‘They packaged all this into the southern initiative,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s how future development is being supported – what needs doing and who does it? ‘‘We just cannot do that.’’ Competing councils wanted to develop green-field sites, but there was ample brown-field space in Seaview, she said.
‘‘We need a regional conversation.
‘‘ It’s the largest area of old industrial land in the region.
‘‘With Petone-to-Grenada [highway] and a cross-valley link road, that would be brilliant.’’
Wellington mayor Celia WadeBrown said the region’s nine councils were unwieldy, but one council stretching from Seatoun to Masterton would go too far.
Whatever happened ought to be decided by the people of the region, she said.
‘‘It should, and inevitably will, go to a referendum,’’ Wade-Brown said.
Celia Wade-Brown: Referendum important.
Nick Leggett: Spatial planning most important.