The Dominion Post

Full council to decide on cycleway

- MICHAEL FORBES

THE controvers­ial handling of the Island Bay Cycleway project has ended with a Wellington City Council committee being stripped of some of its powers.

All decisions about Wellington’s cycleways will be made by the entire city council from now on, rather than just its transport and urban developmen­t committee.

Some councillor­s say the change will delay the rollout of better cycling infrastruc­ture across the city, while others argue it will speed things up.

The full council voted 11 to 4 in favour of the rule change yesterday.

It came about after eight councillor­s called for the transfer of power, angry at the transport committee’s management of the $1.7 million first stage of the Island Bay to City Cycleway.

The three-kilometre section from Shorland Park to Wakefield Park has divided community opinion after 18 months of research and nearly a year of consultati­on.

Constructi­on was pencilled in to begin later this month, subject to the transport committee’s approval. But after yesterday’s rule change, the full council will now get the final say.

Some supporters of the project believe that will delay, if not can- cel, constructi­on, and they were at last night’s meeting to encourage councillor­s not to let that happen.

The council also heard from people opposed to the cycleway plans in their current state, who felt a rethink with the benefit of the council’s collective wisdom would do the project good.

Councillor­s pushing for change yesterday said it was also needed to ensure there were no delays in creating a cycling ‘‘master plan’’ for the capital, which the Govern- ment wants to see before parting with a share of its $100m fund for urban cycleways.

Councillor Andy Foster pointed out the master plan was on the verge of completion and a brief outline would be debated by the transport committee tomorrow.

Transferri­ng decision-making to the full council would simply ‘‘bog the council down’’ because every decision would need to be discussed three times by different groups of councillor­s, he said.

But Jo Coughlan said any talk of the process being delayed was unhelpful, as council officers had assured her it would not happen.

‘‘We need to get the best decisions, especially around cycling infrastruc­ture.’’

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown supported all councillor­s being able to have a vote on cycleway issues.

It was good to see the council united in its support for a better cycling network, she said.

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