Strategy should be more aspirational

The Dunedin City Council has criticised the draft Otago Regional Land Transport Strategy for not being aspirational enough during submission hearings at the Otago Regional Council yesterday.

The ORC regional transport committee is charged with formulating the strategy, which will be used as a template to effectively determine spending priorities for Otago transport projects during the next 30 years.

DCC planning and environment committee chairwoman and councillor Kate Wilson was one of about 14 submitters on the strategy.

Cr Wilson said although the need for resilience over peak oil was included in the strategy, insufficient urgency and priority was given to the issue.

She said if she had told the residents of Middlemarch 20 years ago that there would be no garages in the settlement, and there would be more bicycles than cars, she would have been laughed out of town.

"I think it's sad if we keep on thinking that what we have today is what we will have in 30 years' time.

"We have to be more aspirational."

A submitter for the New Zealand Transport Agency, regional planning manager Bruce Richards, said in his submission he believed the long-term scope of the strategy was aspirational enough, but ORC regional transport committee members needed to be more realistic about the next six to 10 years.

Mr Richards said the draft of the regional transport strategy contained some projections about the delivery of different projects and outcomes, which "might be described as aspirational or 'stretch' mechanisms".

Some projected strategic outcomes were not clearly articulated as to whether they represented good value for money, or if they were likely to be effective and affordable in the short to medium-term fiscal environment, he said.

Based on the draft strategy, future investment in Otago's transport network is likely to be prioritised towards maintaining the region's roads, with the potential for diverting more freight options towards rail, and pushing for ongoing improvements to travel safety.

The regional transport committee, made up of representatives from Otago's six local authorities and three interest groups, will table the completed Regional Land Transport Strategy to the ORC for approval on August 3.

- john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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