Archive for the ‘Wellington Infrastructure’ Category

Government Infrastructure Package

February 11, 2009

We are generally happy with the package of projects announced by the Government this morning.  In particular it is great to see that the Muldoon’s Corner improvement on the Rimutaka Hill Road is not only going to happen, but that work is going to begin so soon.  this is a much needed improvement to our regional road system.  This area of road is too narrow for two trucks to meet (going in opposite directions), and all large trucks are forced to cross the centre line.  this makes the road dangerous for all users.  The project has been on the regional roading agenda for several years but has consistently been prioritised down the list when it has come to decisions actually being taken.  Well done Minister Joyce.

Our statement is up on Scoop….

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Knee Jerk Reactions

February 11, 2009

One of the more complex issues to confront Wellington City Council in recent years was that of the indoor stadium.  At the Chamber we have spent hundreds of hours on the issue.  I must have lobbied the Mayor personally twenty times on it.  Our Board has agonised over the issue, and we have surveyed our membership on it.

Like Cr Foster our initial position was that a site next to the Westpac Stadium on the outskirts of the CDB was the best one.  We still believe this.  Unfortunately there are significant drawbacks to this site.  Size, cost (we have serious doubts about the claim by Cr Foster that a 12 court stadium can be built next to the Westpac Stadium for $46 million does this for example include the cost of the necessary grade separation?) and carparking all raise significant issues for the CBD site.  So reluctantly, after studying every piece of information available on the issue we came around to the view that the Cobham Drive site was the only option to support.  Our submission (easy to find on our website) I think displays our reluctance, but also shows that we took a well considered position.

While considering this issue in depth we monitored the positions taken by individual Councillors, their arguments in meetings and their attendance at meetings.  We know exactly the role played by Cr Foster in this process as does the Dominion Post

Last year Mr Foster called the decision to put the centre on Cobham Park the worst by the council in 15 years. It sparked a new council vote that saw Cobham Park reconfirmed as the site by 13 votes to 1. Mr Foster missed the meeting as it clashed with his 10th wedding anniversary.

Having essentially lost the robust and extended argument for the port site, the Chamber has felt obliged to back the early completion of the agreed site at Cobham Park.  As those who know me will testify, I am a pretty tenacious person.  (I will do a post shortly on an issue I have been fighting for for 23 years).  But on some issues there comes a times when you have to accept the inevitable, particularly when there has been a fair and transparent democratic process to reach a decision.  At the Chamber we also feel that the construction of this project could not be better timed given the economic downturn, and it was clear that the sporting codes affected have clearly been waiting too long for a facility of this type.  We had assumed that other parties who had favoured the port site would act in a similar way to us, after all the facility will be a real asset for the region and the sooner we have it the better.

We now face an 18 month to 2 year delay.  This is annoying.  I personally feel for those parents and sports players who will have to spend an extra two years of standing and playing out in the Wellington elements.  I feel also for those companies that might have survived if this construction had occurred and those who will be without work because of this delay.  This was also an issue which I had been commenting on for several days.  So there was nothing knee jerk in my support for comments from our Mayor a couple of days ago.  I was angry over the grounds used for this appeal (is preferring another site real grounds for appeal under the RMA??), and I was as angry over the fact that a member of the Council had decided to act contrary to the near unanimous position of the Council as I was last year over Iona Pannett’s attempts to stop the Basin Reserve grade separation following a very detailed and complex decision over the Ngauranga to Airport land transport corridor (I am at least consistent on this issue of collective responsibility).

I have never called for Cr Foster’s resignation, but I do think there is an issue around this.  To paraphrase another blogger “Isn’t the fact that 8 members of the Council including the Mayor are either calling for a colleague’s resignation or suggesting that he review his position suggestive of the fact that there is a serious issue here?”  And isn’t it a bit unusual that Cr Foster has been the subject of two searching editorials – Wellingtonian and Dominion Post??? I also do worry about Andy’s ability to Chair his two committees in the current situation.  As a minimum a standdown might be an idea.  These considerations were the background to my supposedly knee jerk reaction.

Is it appropriate for someone in my position to be expressing opinions on this issue?  Absolutely.  It is my job.  Who else scrutinises the Council and the actions of individual Councillors as closely as I do?  What is the Chamber position?  This is also easily accessible on our website.

I was also a bit surprised to be labelled an ardent cheerleader for Mayor Prendergast.  I am sure that she will be as surprised as I was to read this characterisation.  We have a close and fully professional working relationship.  We meet somewhere around town most days.  We regularly exchange views on the issues of the day.  We sometimes agree and often disagree (we can’t mention a certain roading project to the North of Wellington without the sparks flying). This is the nature of our roles.

I do hope that this issue is not about positioning for another significant event that is also due in about 18 months to 2 years time (have a read of the first letter to the editor in today’s Dominion Post).  But by then I am kind of hoping we might be lucky enough to be voting for a Mayor of Greater Wellington.  In that context, the site chosen for the Wellington city indoor stadium is unlikely to be a regional issue.  By the way this isn’t just my view, the Chamber has long championed the idea of local body amalgamation.  Once the Royal Commission on Auckland delivers its recommendations, a similar solution for Wellington must be on the cards.

RMA Changes

February 5, 2009

We were very pleased with the announcement on Tuesday of the changes to the Resource Management Act.  Here is a copy of our press statement:

Resource Management Proposals a Boost for Business

 

The Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the proposed Resource Management Act reforms announced by the government today.

 

“The cost and uncertainty brought about by the RMA has been a real obstacle to business investment,” said Chamber CEO, Charles Finny. 

 

“Streamlining the processes around obtaining resource consents will prove to be a real tonic for economic growth.

 

“Small businesses in particular can face crippling costs and delays under the RMA and today’s proposals will go along way towards reducing them.

 

“The prevention of frivolous, vexatious and anti-competitive objections to developments is particularly welcome as is the option for applicants to go directly to independent commissioners.

 

The Chamber will scrutinise the proposals in more detail and looks forward to making a submission on the Bill at the Select Committee stage,” Mr Finny concluded.

A350 On Time

January 15, 2009

The media here is reporting that work began yesterday in Toulouse on the building in which the new Airbus 350 will be built.  Production of this new aircraft type is on time with first deliveries expected in 2013.  29 airlines have so far placed orders for 478 of these new generation aircraft – similar to the Boeing 787.  This is of particular interest to the Wellington region as the performance of this aircraft will allow more destinations to be reachable from Wellington than can be achieved by current aircraft types with economic payloads.

Toll Roads (3)

January 13, 2009

My earlier posts have elicited a range of comments – several of which failed to make it through the moderation process because they were abusive.  Aparently I am a fool and collectivist solutions are always better than solutions that favour the individual and business.  I forgot that Marxism is like a religion for its believers – it is faith based as opposed to evidence based.  Just to remind readers i have lived for several years in Communist run countries.  I know what works and what doesn’t, and i sure don’t want to see policy that has failed elsewhere be introduced here because it conforms to a fringe ideological belief system.  With that off my chest can i share some more info on the A41.  Hopefully the Dominion Post will take up the challenging questions asked below and provide some answers…

The Annecy Chamber has sent through more information about the A41.  It turns out that this fantastic road is France’s first BOT project.  Not one Euro of public money has been used to fund it.  The total cost was Euro 871.5 million.  The consortium that build it own the road until 2060 when it returns to public ownership.

 

Now things get very interesting – this road is forecast to be profitable on 23,000 vehicle uses a day. 

 

How come it is possible for a road that is more expensive and difficult to build than Transmission Gully on only 23,000 vehicle movements a day to be economic in Europe, when a cheaper road in New Zealand with more vehicle movements is apparently not suitable for a BOT solution???  This is going to require some further investigation….

Encouraging Reaction To Arena Proposal

November 26, 2008

We were encouraged by the reactions of the mayors of Hutt City and Upper Hutt to the proposal for a concert arena to be built somewhere (preferably near the stadium) in the Wellington Region.  Here are the comments from these two Mayors as reported in the Dominion Post

Mayor Ogden (Hutt City)

Lower Hutt Mayor David Ogden said his council did not fund big Wellington-based events and projects such as the International Festival of the Arts and the Karori Sanctuary.

“But if it could be proven that it [a rock arena] is a truly regional facility like the Westpac Stadium, then I think a case could be made for it to be funded through the region.”

Mr Ogden said the arena could be funded through Greater Wellington regional council by a special rate.

The regional council already collects rates from all ratepayers in the region to pay for the Westpac Stadium.

Mayor Guppy (Upper Hutt)

Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy said there was a clear need for a rock arena in the region.

“Anyone who lives in Wellington can clearly see that we are losing out very, very badly to Auckland now that they have the large [12,000-seat] Vector Arena. There is no question about that.”

The Vector Arena has attracted some of the biggest international rock acts, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kings of Leon, since it opened in March last year. Kylie Minogue will perform there next month.

Mr Guppy said a cooperative approach was needed to find the most suitable place for an arena.

“If it is to be a regional approach, then where is the best place to site it? It might be the city, but it also might be Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt or Porirua.”

Opposition To Basin Reserve Grade Separation

November 25, 2008

According to Morning Report there is a campaign being launched to aopposed the $33 million grade separation near the Basin Reserve.  This is one of the priority roading projects in the Wellington area and is designed to end traffic congestion at the Basin reserve bottleneck.  By doing this we should be able to survive without a second tunnel for some years.  The Chamber is strongly supportive of this project.  A hige proportion of Wellington business support this project.  Unfortunately on Morning Report all the reporting and comment seemed to be from those opposing the flyover.

I shall post in more detail on this when i have the time.

Update 26/11/08: I am informed that John Morrison was interviewed on Morning Report yesterday about this issue and did put the case for the grade separation.  A pity this did not make the news summaries.

Study On Indoor Concert Venue Welcome

November 22, 2008

The Chamber has been talking to Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast and WCC CEO Garry Poole for some time about the possibility of a facility being built near the stadium so that mid-sized concerts and big international conventions could be held in the city.  We are literally missing out of tens of millions of dollars a year because we don’t have such a facility.  We were hopeful that the indoor sports stadium that is already going through the consent process might have been able to perfom a dual role, hosting concerts and conventions from time to time, but we are told that this is not possible by Wellington City Council as the centre will be fully utilised every day by the sports codes using its indoor courts.

The Chamber supports the indoor sports stadium but is still not fully convinced that the proposed location at Cobham Drive is the correct one.  Wellington City Council tell us that on a cost benefit basis that Cobham Drive is the best option.  We have recently OIA’ed the City Council’s figures and are presently studying what we have been given.

Getting back to a concert/convention center to be built near the stadium, we are pleased the issue has made the front page of today’s Dominion Post.  We look forward to the results of the further work that Wellington City is proposing on this concept.  If the concept is confirmed to be feasible and if it indeed will result in the positive economic impact that we think it could, then the Chamber is likely to become a strong advocate for such a structure being built.  Kerry Prendergast is suggesting in the Dominion Post today that projects such as this might have to be put on hold because of the economic downturn.  We don’t agree fully with this logic.  We favour acceleration of essential infrastructure investment in times such as these.  If this project is indeed worthwhile, then we should do everything possible to get construction underway as quickly as possible.  An $100 million construction programme would give a welcome boost to our economy right now.  And it would be great to have such a facility ready to open by the time that the global economy shows signs of a sustained recovery.