Over the summer break I hope you all have an opportunity to relax, enjoy some sunshine, spend time with your loved ones and recharge yourselves ready for a success-filled 2019.
This summer is the second swimming season that we have had the enhanced Safeswim website, safeswim.org.nz, which gives you an up-to-date forecast of the water quality at any given beach. Auckland’s struggle with water quality is well documented. Combined stormwater and sewerage in older parts of Auckland, many of which are in the Ōrākei ward, cause overflows into the harbour when it rains. We also have problems with dry weather sewerage overflows, which are usually caused by blockages in the pipes due to things like fats, oils and wet wipes being tipped down the sink or flushed down the toilet. All of this conspires to reduce the quality of our water and create a health risk to swimmers.
Last summer, about 10 per cent of readings taken at beaches along Tamaki Dr showed that the water failed to meet national water quality guidelines, with a further 5 per cent unsafe for children and the elderly.
Having been given a mandate by you to support the water targeted rate, I’ve been working hard to confirm projects in our ward to address this problem. These include suburban Ōrākei’s stormwater separation and outlet upgrades at Okahu Bay, along with dredging of the Portland Rd creek prior to the road raising. Further to this, we will be conducting detailed investigations of the networks in the Judges Bay, Mission Bay and St Heliers areas to identify and eliminate sources of contamination.
Staying with the summer theme, some of our visitors to Auckland over summer are ‘campers’ who use our parks and public spaces to overnight while they enjoy the city. Whilst we welcome people to explore the many beaches, parks and tourist spots in this way, we also need to ensure that their presence doesn’t prevent others from also enjoying these places. The proposed bylaw out for consultation includes preventing freedom campers in such areas as the Michael Joseph Savage memorial and Selwyn Reserve in Mission Bay, while allowing self-contained campervans to park at Ōrākei Domain and Churchill Park. Starting on December 3, we will be asking for your views on the proposed bylaw and locations. Consultation will be open through to February 18, 2019, with the decision making scheduled for April. As always, I will be closely following the feedback from the Ōrākei ward and supporting your views. Please visit aucklandcouncil.govt.nz and search ‘have your say’ to read more and make a submission.
Auckland Transport are also consulting in February on their desire to reduce speed limits to 30kph in the CBD and the town centres of Mission Bay and St Heliers. The ‘driver’ (pardon the pun) is the fact that a car hitting a pedestrian at 50kph will be fatal 80 per cent of the time, whereas a car hitting a pedestrian at 30kph will be fatal 10 per cent of the time. Whilst I agree with efforts to make our streets safer, I am also very interested in your thoughts as to whether slowing traffic down is the best way to do this, when vehicle congestion is such a problem for the 33,000-plus cars and buses entering the city from the east. At time of writing, specific dates for consultation are not known so please keep an eye out on my Facebook page or website for further details.
All aspects of road safety are important and none more so than getting children safely to school. Recently I’ve taken transport staff to Sacred Heart College to hear their concerns about crossings near the school. To assist, AT have proposed to put approximately an extra $1m for our community on top of the extra $500,000 that myself and other councillors supported for local transport projects, into each local board area. However, even with improved transport solutions, everyone needs to be mindful when driving past schools, especially before and after school. AT’s safety focus means that
we can expect to see new zebra crossings, pedestrian refuges and an upgrade to the intersection of Tamaki Dr and Watene Cres this financial year. AT will also be working to add to the 20 Travelwise schools and 14 walking school buses in the Ōrākei ward – if you know of a school that has concerns, please let me know.
Finally, 2018 ended with some interesting media stories on the relationship the mayor has with councillors and how that is reflected in voting at Council meetings. I give you my assurance that my voting is and always has been, issues based. I do not follow ‘the leader’ or subscribe to any A or B team group vote. I am there to do the best I can for you, the communities and ratepayers of Ōrākei.