Council split on $60m George St upgrade

Dunedin city councillor Jules Radich says consulatation was lacking in a proposal to slow...
Dunedin city councillor Jules Radich. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Dunedin city councillors have split with the mayor over the multimillion-dollar George St upgrade, and some are questioning the council's commitment to ‘‘participatory democracy’’.

A council staff proposal to reform the advisory group for the project to turn Dunedin’s downtown thoroughfare into a more pedestrian-focused destination was rejected after councillors voted 10-5 against the mayor and his deputy.

The decision will delay debate on the group’s membership and its terms of reference.

“I think this whole discussion speaks to the way things get done here,” Cr Jules Radich said at Monday’s council meeting.

“Many, many submitters at our annual plan submissions commented on the need for co-design, or co-creation — or participation — in our democracy.

‘‘I’d like to see democracy that is seen to be done.

‘‘Having the councillors have some say, or some discussion of the terms of reference of this group and the membership of this group, I think, is vitally important if our citizens are to see democracy in action. And many, many of them have raised concerns about the situation that we find ourselves in now.

‘‘As you know, social media is rife with dissent about the way things have gone and similarly letters to the newspaper are very regularly not in favour of what has gone on.

“I think it’s important that we approach this a lot more seriously, because this is a critically important matter on which we are spending an awful lot of money. It is very important that everyone in the community comes with us. And it’s a relatively straightforward process to achieve that.”

As part of a planned $60million upgrade of the central city, the car-oriented thoroughfare is to be reformed to provide for 75% pedestrians and public space and 25% vehicles.

The proposal has prompted a retailer-led petition attracting more than 6000 signatures opposing the council’s plans.

At a council meeting on May 25, when considering an update on the George St upgrade, councillors decided 10-4 to reconstitute a “Central City Advisory Group” to have input into the design work.

But on Monday, councillors rejected the staff proposal for the group, as many said they wanted more input themselves into the group’s makeup and the scope of its influence into the process.

“I think when we talk about participatory democracy, we’ve got to be careful about how we make these groups up,” Cr Jim O’Malley said.

Cr Chris Staynes said he believed the terms of reference for the group as proposed by council staff were ‘‘only going to produce greater anger amongst the retailers”.

“If you look at the list of people represented, retailers’ representation is by far the minority and I accept that we want to get a cross-section of our community, but I think the initial reaction if we were to go ahead with this at this stage would be a very negative one again — and I think we need to think this out a little bit more,” he said.

Mayor Aaron Hawkins said he found it “remarkable” that councillors wanted to defer a public debate this week on the terms of reference and membership of the group.

He also questioned the “calibre of debate” that would follow a non-public workshop his colleagues called for to ensure staff had got the basics of the group’s membership and terms of reference right.

The work to progress plans for George St would not stop while the group was formed, he said.

“It’s not going to filibuster the George St work.”

Mr Hawkins and Crs David Benson-Pope, Christine Garey, Marie Laufiso, and Steve Walker voted against the delay.

The council will revisit the issue of the formation of the group on June 30.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz


 

Comments

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A typical council, they couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery

Typical failed Green MP actions from this '12th round stv voted' mayor (I'd still like to know how many put him as number 1 on their ballots).
Spend spend spend, hey, it's not your money right?
Get your vanity projects and stick them up the proverbial

Glad you asked. 9,481 voted for Vandervis and 9,074 voted for Hawkins. So in the democratic election, Vandervis won by 407 votes. In the non-democratic STV redistribution vote, Hawkins was given an additional 8,148 votes. Vandervis was given an additional 4,870 votes. This changed the results giving Hawkins a win with 2,871 votes over Vandervis. Interestingly to note; by the 13 and final iteration under STV, almost 80% of the votes originally cast were redistributed to other candidates. I ask you, is this democracy? Who implemented STV? Why was it implemented? There are 80 City councils in New Zealand. 13 use STV for local elections. DCC is one of those councils; why?

The council would do well to remember they are our elected representatives, not leaders or rulers. The comment “calibre of debate” is arrogant. Mayor Hawkins is willing to make a public statement that the stakeholders are not worth listening to. An alarming attitude.

A divided city cannot stand.

I question the caliber of the "mayor".
Seems he is determined to push through a legacy (something his best mate cull failed to do) because he knows he won't be in the job for long, I also think he just wants yes persons on "his council".

What a relief to hear there is still an ember of democratic principles glowing within the council.
Democracy isn't a single event that happens on election day. It is NOT an event to be manipulated so to gain power to push an agenda onto an unsuspecting public.
Stacking powerful committees with like minds is not diversity nor broad representation and claiming gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or some other group identity to be diversity is so disingenuous it makes my gut churn. That is simply the latest incarnation of divide and rule.
A vision for the city is important but that vision must be affordable, fit for purpose and enhance functionality, making the population impacted by it comfortable and proud.
We now know who the gang of five are. Next we must be aware of their lackeys on staff and be very wary of them.
If the true objective is to bring life, functionality, activity and business back to the CBD then the first priority is access and usability NOT optimizing an infrastructure upgrade. That means reorganising the roading around the area so it flows better and provides more parking options.
With our sparse population and geography, the car must be king

It is hard to see why anyone would want to turn George St into a mall unless you are simply determined to rid the city of cars and other motor vehicles.

Council has doggedly refused to make public the report on the Octigan fiasco. We can only conclude reports from retailers were right, the closure had a devastating impact on business. Now these same planners and zealots want to do the same to George St.
Has no one at council noticed that two of the largest retailers are leaving the area? Or should that just be chalked up to collateral damage in the war against cars.
And when a retail area loses its big name draw cards, people just go elsewhere. It really seems the greens are determined to have their mall and to heck with the business and social impact.

KeithMcC you always have sound and wise correspondence imho, reading between the lines of what's been happening in my birth town some may say I should not assume but I guess I take that after my late father, when the facts are hidden on purpose from the public along with no accountability from this mayor or previous mayors. they all think once it is done come and catch me. Like you have said I honestly think Hawkins wants no cars, closed area's lack of people in shops and in the area, so shops will suffer, they will close in the area and those buildings will be made into inner city appartments, and at a guess the owners are at a guess old money and friends of the old boys club. It is all being steered by this cookie cutter origination https://iclei.org/en/our_network.html who Hawkins is a on some committee for and I believe the DCC pays a fee to be a member.

A vote of 10 to 5 seems more like a massive tear rather than a split. The Mayoral response indicates he and his closest council supporters stopped behaving democratically and responsibly some time ago. It seems that as far as the DCC goes Green isn't that clean? How about a resignation?

Cr Radich says - "It is very important that everyone in the community comes with us. And it’s a relatively straightforward process to achieve that.”

If he means getting agreement then he is wrong, you will never get consensus on any issue. There will always be people with conflicting views and opinions - it's the nature of democracy. Rather than being straightforward, it is unachievable.

It's what makes democracy imperfect, but still better than most (all?) other alternatives. We won't always be happy with the results. C'est la vie.

As long as everyone who wants to be heard gets the opportunity, that's all you demand from decision makers.

$60 million? Just a mere cup of coffee a day for rate payers isn't it?
'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' right?

950 million owed by ratepayers, 40 million in interest annually ,now Hawkins and co want to spend another 60 million upgrading/pedestrianizing George st. Here's an idea why not pay off some of the debt first.

Sparrowhawk Fully agree but at a guess it does not fit the Greens or https://iclei.org/en/our_network.html visions, along with he or others Mayors have zero accountability, they are not answerable to anything and they have and are doing what they want when they want, watching the last council meeting on line it is obviously he has a few councillors in his pocket and was gutted that the council voted like they did, but still said it will not stop the progress of what is happening, I took that as it is going to happen anyway which is totally wrong. He like other Mayors are feathering their own nest for when time comes and he is forced to depart. they need to be more transparent. Why was the Public mis advised on the cost of the dots, because the communication from the Mayors office is pathetic and secretive Hawkins and some other councillors are very secretive and it needs to change. Where others on Social media are very open and people like that.

I am sure that a trip to certain cities in the UK where central streets are pedestrian access only would offer an enormous insight as to how things could operate in Dunedin, to the benefit of all. The expense of making that trip (by 2 or 3) would ultimately be worthwhile in the long run...

Having travelled a lot in the last 30 years the thing with such cities is they have a larger population,have a suitable tram, train or both types of public transport, affordable taxi's regular buses, the majority have warm weather plus the have other areas such as malls where people can drive to and be warm or cooled in the hotter climates. Dunedin has little of this

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