Call for residential red zone blackout

Photo: Geoff Sloan
Photo: Geoff Sloan
A call has been made to axe street lighting across Christchurch's residential red zone, which is costing the city council $140,000 a year.

There are a total of 1149 lights within the red zone.

Christchurch city councillor Aaron Keown believed all of them should be removed to save money as the council looks to trim back its budget in the face of a $99 million revenue shortfall resulting from the Covid pandemic.

"We should be taking out the whole lot," he said.

"If it is no longer on a street people are living on, we should be taking them out.

"Leaving street lights on where no one lives - that just does not make sense.”

City council manager of transport planning and delivery Lynette Ellis said 689 of the lights could be removed as they are located on roads closed to vehicle access.

The annual cost of the 689 lights is $78,000 and the cost to remove them is $52,000.

Illuminating the residential red zone is costing the city council $140,000 a year. Photo: Geoff...
Illuminating the residential red zone is costing the city council $140,000 a year. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Keown questioned whether the removal costs would be so high.

Dallington Residents Association chairwoman Bebe Frayle did not think it would be wise to remove all of the streetlights across the red zone.

"There are probably lights in there that could be removed but wholesale removal is probably not good for public safety,” she said.

"A lot of people use the red zone and I think if you are not a regular user of the red zone you can’t really appreciate how many people use it.”

Things are not as simple as just switching lights off.

Said Ellis: "Lights are connected in groups which can cover a number of streets, there is not a switch available for each individual light remotely. 

"While it may be possible to completely disconnect some groups from other groups, it would disconnect lights that are still required to service occupied properties within the red zone or streets adjacent to the red zone.”

The city council has not proposed to cut the cost of any of the street lights within the red zone from this year’s draft Annual Plan.

Ellis said this was considered but it was ultimately decided to leave a decision on the future of the lights to when the council addresses its Long Term Plan next year.

However, the lights could be axed before then if councillors agree upon their removal.

 

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