Conflicting visions of Dunedin's future collided as debate
over the city's draft transport strategy erupted at a public
Submitters on one side called for a city abandoning
fuel-guzzling cars, and opting instead for electric vehicles,
bikes and the return of cable cars, trams and commuter
In stark contrast, Dunedin planner Don Anderson's vision was
of a multimillion-dollar arterial highway pushed through the
city's waterfront land, built on the belief cars would always
The day's deliberations erupted into fiery finger-pointing
after Cr Lee Vandervis suggested council staff were
misleading the public by suggesting the city faced
ever-increasing fuel prices.
The evidence pointed to the contrary, he insisted, despite a
price ''glitch'' in the past decade, which meant the
council's strategy risked being built on a lie.
Cr Vandervis was forced to apologise for his tone, but only
after other councillors agreed to tone down strategy wording
that assumed increased fuel prices.
The conflicting visions came on the final day of the Dunedin
City Council's hearing on its draft transport strategy.
The day began with pointed comments aimed at the Otago
Chamber of Commerce by Scott Willis, of the Blueskin
Resilient Communities Trust.
The trust was a chamber member, but Mr Willis said he took
exception to the chamber's earlier criticism of the strategy.
Prof Herbert Harris, of the chamber, had criticised the
sustainability ''agenda'' within the document, but Mr Willis
said yesterday he was pleased by the strategy's focus.
''On this issue, the chamber does not speak for us,'' he
Instead, Mr Willis urged the council to do more to support
low-carbon transport links between smaller settlements.
A switch to electric-powered transport could occur with more
investment in generation, albeit with some disruption after
200 years of reliance on fossil fuels, he said.
''The resource is there. It's free. It's the build that's
He also urged the council to consider more investment in
community schemes contributing to cleaner transport, such as
Waitati resident Hagen Bruggemann's trial of retrofitted
However, he disagreed with the strategy's focus on safety
above all else, saying roads would become safer anyway as
people switched away from cars.
Generation Zero members Harriet Leadbetter, Heather
Bosselmann and Tod Coxhead also urged the council to be more
ambitious in its goals for alternative transport.
They called for a draft goal for the proportion of the
population walking, cycling or taking the bus to be lifted
from 30% to 50%.
That would improve safety, while the closure of some streets
to vehicles could boost foot traffic and shop sales, they
Andrew Rutherford, of Port Chalmers, also called for the
reintroduction of commuter trains, trams and cable cars.
A new service could include rail to Port Chalmers and
Mosgiel, electric trams from St Clair along George St to the
Dunedin Botanic Garden.
A heritage-style cable car also employing modern technology
could also operate as a tourist attraction, perhaps on a new
route, such as between the University of Otago and Maori
Hill, he said.
However, Mr Anderson said council staff should abandon
''nonsense'' plans to convert the city's one-way streets to
Instead, the focus should be on a new arterial highway from
the Oval to Logan Park and linking to northern routes out of
While the cost of the project was not known, it could be paid
for in part by selling council assets including the Wall
Street mall and City Forests' trees, he said.
''Some people will moan and groan, but we have to look
Mr Anderson conceded he ''could well be a dinosaur'', but
doubted the city would ever abandon the car.
''Dunedin will, I think, always be car-dependent.''