Opinions vary on transport, parking

Candidates in the  Dunedin City Council election set out their positions in front of a crowd of...
Candidates in the Dunedin City Council election set out their positions in front of a crowd of more than 200 people at the Opoho Presbyterian Church last night. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Parking, buses and the future of George St were to the fore as Dunedin City Council candidates went head-to-head in Opoho again last night.

Another 19 candidates crammed on stage for the second of two candidates meetings at the Opoho Presbyterian Church, watched by a crowd of more than 200 people.

Each candidate was given 90 seconds to set out their stall, by explaining why they should be elected, before attention turned to meatier issues.

That included what to do about George St, central city car parking and the future of Lime e-scooters on city streets, as well as cycleways and debt levels.

And, while some candidates fretted about the loss of car parks and the need to protect George St businesses from pedestrianisation, others pointed to the inevitable congestion that would follow unless steps were taken to improve public transport.

Cr Aaron Hawkins said the city had a growing population and vehicle fleet, but also more people wanting to bike or walk "without fear of death or serious injury'', and the city needed to invest more in making public transport attractive.

Crs Christine Garey and Marie Laufiso also both wanted to see more affordable public transport, to free up parking for those who needed it most, but Cr David Benson-Pope was not convinced the city faced a parking shortage - only a shortage of free parking in a city reluctant to pay.

Finn Campbell said more car parks - like additional lanes on a motorway - were not the answer, as they would only fill up with time.

"So I say stop - don't do it,'' he said.

Instead, able-bodied motorists should be encouraged to leave their cars at home, and George St should be completely pedestrianised, he said.

Others disagreed, including Carmen Houlahan, who said the council had been "too hasty'' in removing "all the car parks'', and George St businesses opposed to pedestrianisation needed to be listened to.

John Guthrie believed the city needed another "high-rise'' car parking building in the central city in the short-term, while longer-term solutions were identified, but George St needed to become a focal point to attract young people back to the city.

Neville Jemmett said that could include closing George St to vehicles and instead running trams along it, while Hugh Forsyth insisted alternatives - rather than more parking - was the answer.

"What we need is fewer cars in the central city,'' he said.



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