Utopian thinking doesn't need to destroy small business - Chris Lynch

It's a new year, and a fresh start for many, but some business owners have started 2021 at war with the authority that is supposed to work for them.

Cycleways are back in the headlines after it was revealed the council wants to remove on-street parking near the popular Copenhagen Bakery on Harewood Rd and replace it with cycleways.

It also wants to reduce the busy four-lane road to two lanes to "make it safer."

This is music to the ears for some, but for others, the plan is a kick in the guts.

The owner of Copenhagen Bakery has been through a lot after her city business was destroyed in the 2011 quake.

She's been through hell getting resource consents to move to Harewood, and now, she says, the council wants to "annihilate" her business.

Die-hard cycling advocates on Facebook have told her "tough, there's more to life than cars and roads. We've got to save the planet".

I understand where they're coming from, but utopia thinking doesn't need to destroy small businesses.

The view of Harewood Rd from the Copenhagen Bakery where it is proposed four lanes be reduced to...
The view of Harewood Rd from the Copenhagen Bakery where it is proposed four lanes be reduced to two. Photo: Supplied
As I've said before, some of Christchurch's cycleways are brilliant and it's fantastic to see many cyclists, while I drive to work, particularly at the intersection of Strickland and Brougham Sts.

When we were first discussing cycleways 8 years ago on Newstalk ZB, most residents, including myself, were overwhelmingly positive. We're the flattest city in New Zealand, and it made sense.

But I don't think people envisioned the removal of on-street parks or the reduction of road sizes - and that's where the conversation gets tricky.

The council said there has been plenty of consultation with the public, citing the Papanui Parallel Cycleway from Northlands to the city, as an example of its flexibility.

It made 80 changes, which seems like a strange gloat. Shouldn't the highly paid city planners have got it right the first time?

I admire people who are passionate, and the cycling lobby group do an outstanding job mobilising members to make oral submissions.

The mayor told me it was important for people to engage in the process. She's right. But what about those, the majority, who didn't want the council to donate $10 million to one of the richest landlords in the city, the Anglican Church - but the council did so anyway.

The plans for the upgrades at the Harewood, Breens and Gardiners Rds intersection. Photo: Supplied
The plans for the upgrades at the Harewood, Breens and Gardiners Rds intersection. Photo: Supplied
What about the majority who didn't want rate increases last year during one of the toughest economic periods the country has seen in recent years, but the council went ahead and increased the rates by even more than what it initially announced.

I'll say it again, cycleways are not a problem, but the way in which some council staff make decisions and communicate to the community must change.

They need to take the public with them. Just last year a popular florist on Edgeware Rd was left in tears after finding out the council was going to remove all nearby on-street car parking.

The first she knew about it was when a Fulton Hogan contractor told her on the same day they were to start digging up the road.

It's commendable that Mayor Lianne Dalziel has promised to meet a concerned business owner.

But if the latest plan was so good, she wouldn't need to in the first place.

 

 

 

 

 

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