If you don’t want tourists to come to Waiheke, as stated by Green Party hopeful and Transport Spokesperson on the Waiheke Local Board Shirin Brown, then there's no better way of ensuring they never return than making them travel on roads where no maintenance has taken place.
To all intents and purposes that’s what the following advocacy item in the Local Board Annual Plan means.
“Advocates to Auckland Transport to provide the Local Board with design plans for all roading and footpath design plans and projects, containing sufficient detail and with enough time to provide for meaningful consultation to prioritise the safety of active transport users (cyclists) and the protection of our waterways.”
No city can function like this.
Just imagine what would happen if Auckland Transport (AT) were to go along with this nonsense.
AT hands the roading and footpath engineering plans to the Board. The Board promptly hands them to their friends in Cycle Action, Hauraki Gulf Conservation Trust, Forest and Bird, Waiheke Island Community Planning Group, the Green Party, and any other group that just by calling itself ‘environmental’ becomes an instant ‘expert’ on road engineering. These self-appointed ‘experts’ with no qualifications in road engineering, design or storm water will naturally know better than all the vast resources of well qualified and experienced staff employed by Auckland Transport.
The Board will hold a hui. They will invite their friends to peruse the drawings. They will consult the community. There will be surveys, posters, adverts inviting ‘community input’ and canvassing of ‘affected’ parties. There will be another hui. They will finally get back to AT who will be asked to change the plans (and increase the budget) to reflect the erudite musings of the consultees. There may even be - another hui. One day, in the very distant future (God willing) there will be a plan.
What there won’t be are any road works.
No new footpaths, no road safety work, no new seals, no new bus shelters, no new cycle lanes, no solutions for Matiatia parking. It takes a lot of engineering, resource consents, environmental consultants’ reports and ratepayers’ money to design, deliver and maintain the roading infrastructure. There is only a relatively small window of opportunity in the summer to complete the work. Auckland Transport is a finely honed maintenance machine. It has a process in place to keep the Local Board informed and an opportunity for community input.
But if your real intent is to stop the road works altogether then all you have to do is hold them up for long enough. If too many obstacles are put in their path, AT will simply walk away from Waiheke. There are plenty of other projects around the region that are crying out for money and other Local Boards that will welcome Auckland Transport with open arms. And what will Waiheke be left with?
I can see it now. The Waiheke green dream from its dream team come true: a sort of step back in time, “Waiheke Amish World” attracting only the sort of ‘sustainable’ tourist Ms Brown so reveres.
If we, the community, don’t like this Green Party vision for Waiheke then we’d better hope that Auckland Transport has enough backbone to tell the Waiheke Local Board to mind its own business, stop interfering in matters it doesn’t understand and let the professionals get on with doing their job.