We are acutely aware of the twin pressures to minimise rate rises and increase spending to reduce the economic impacts of COVID-19. We urge you to seek help from the central government as they respond so that long-term investment is not reduced but instead expanded.
We ask for increased investment in the following areas;
1. Public Transport
We call for the implementation of public transport priority measures to be accelerated on all current core bus routes. Poorer quality bus stops and shelters should be renewed and higher patronage stops should be upgraded to shelters and lounges. Park and Rides with car and cycle parking should be considered in low density areas.
Funds should be put aside now so that when the Future Public Transport and Mass Rapid Transit studies are complete they can be implemented as soon as possible. The Zone Zero concept should be seriously investigated and the Greater Christchurch Public Transport Joint Committee and the CCC should work to overcome institutional and practical barriers to it and similar public transport policies.
2. Active Transport
We ask for the remaining work on the 10 major cycleways to be fast-tracked, including finishing the remaining connections within the Four Aves. The remainder of the An Accessible City plan should be completed as soon as possible and the council should take advantage of NZTA’s Innovating Streets for People fund. Streets such as Victoria and Colombo Street, as well as public transport routes around malls, could be improved by utilizing resources from this fund.
To manage the impacts of the Christchurch Northern Corridor a new major cycleway should be created to the east of, and parallel to, Cranford Street to allow cyclists to avoid the more dangerous environment created by the corridor. Local road streetscapes should be redeveloped to deter rat running and improve pedestrian and cycle safety.
3. Central city car parking reform
Despite off-street car parks having significant spare capacity through evenings, nights and weekends, there is a common perception that we need more.
However, increasing car parking takes up valuable city centre land and encourages people to drive at times when roads are already congested. We encourage the council to improve their parking strategy by directing people to available off-street car parks and varying parking prices by time of day, day of week and on- vs off-street.
In addition, all parking within the four avenues should be paid parking to reflect the social impacts (such as congestion) of car use within the central city.
4. Energy efficient homes and buildings
We want you to ensure the homes you are providing are energy efficient by being warm and dry for those who live in them. To achieve this, deep retrofits of insulation and the installation of effective and efficient heating appliances will be far more effective than only including add-ons such as solar.
Any new homes consented from now should be required to have at least a 6-Homestar rating or equivalent endorsement, ensuring they are warmer, drier, healthier and more efficient than the bare minimum required by the building code.
Any new consents granted for homes and buildings within 400m (5 min walk) of a core public transport route should receive exemptions from district plan rules 188.8.131.52.a.i. And b.i. (minimum number of car parks) to encourage sustainable travel choices to/from these destinations.
Our development contributions policy should be adjusted so that we can offer a wider variety of housing and transport options. More should be done to encourage higher-density developments closer to public transport and jobs, shops and other destinations. Consents for lower-density developments should be costed appropriately to reflect their relative inefficiency (particularly in terms of energy consumption and transport infrastructure) and hidden costs. Active and public transport levies should be higher for developments further away from PT and destinations.
5. Recycling Facility
We call on our local government to develop a sustainable and local way of processing rubbish to replace offshore processors. By constructing a local recycling facility with the capability to process household waste (optimally including paper/cardboard, plastic and mixed packaging such as Tetra Pak cartons) generated within the Canterbury region, our city could generate employment, reduce costs and even potentially generate a new revenue stream. This would be a significant construction project that would spur our economic recovery as well as providing long term benefits to the city.
Bigger than Us
New Zealand’s response to COVID-19 has garnered worldwide attention for its efficiency and effectiveness. As we begin to plan our recovery, we must also show the world that even a tragedy like COVID-19 presents an opportunity to ‘hit the reset button’ and ensure our future generations thank us for the new paradigm we create. As New Zealand’s second largest city, our decisions matter not just locally but also nationally and even globally.
We must not let the current crisis narrow our perspective or dim our vision for the future of Ōtautahi. As all of us respond to the economic and social dislocation caused by COVID-19, we call upon our leaders not to forget the impending climate crisis and wisely invest in the infrastructure of a just transition.