Archive for May, 2010

Great Concert

30 May 2010

We went to the (free!) concert at the Chamber Gallery in the Rangiora Library today.  Anna Maksymova, a young University of Canterbury student, played Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninoff to a full house.  What an emerging talent!

It was yet another example of the healthy cultural life of this District when locals can spend a grey Sunday afternoon treated to such fare.

Urban Traffic Speeds

29 May 2010

The UK Independent has put an article on its website about what happened to a doctor over there who hit a child who ran out in front of his car.  The child survived  – see my David Ayers for Mayor Facebook page by clicking the link at the right (under “Blogroll”).

The Ashley Bridge

28 May 2010

Cones Road Bridge over the Ashley / Rakahuri, north of Rangiora

A friend’s Facebook “wall’ is featuring a bit of conversation on the Ashley Bridge north of Rangiora.  Its width has been a long-standing issue for communities on both sides of the river.  There is not enough space for cyclists – in other words, cars can’t pass them without crossing the centre line, so cyclists cross at their peril.

Some impatient motorists are very unwilling to drive behind cyclists until they get off the bridge.

And then there are pedestrians.

Even for motor traffic, there isn’t much space.  Car drivers can feel intimidated by trucks coming towards them and sometimes trucks have to be very careful passing each other on the bridge.

Another issue is that ECan has long talked about building a new stopbank to the south of the river. Their concern is that the river north of Rangiora is narrower than west or east of the town, which in floods puts pressure on the stopbanks.  If a new southern stopbank were to be build further to the south, and the current one removed, the bridge would not be long enough.  (It is possible that a new stopbank could be a secondary one, in which case the current bank would stay.)

Leaving aside the length question, there are two matters: (1) cyclist and pedestrian safety, which could be improved with a clip-on, and (2) the general width of the bridge.  People also ask about the expected life of the bridge.

The bridge is nearly 100 years old and was designed to be wide enought for two traction engines to pass.  It seems to be structurally sound, so we have to assume that if we wanted it to, it could last for quite along time.

Most of the roading and bridging work carried out by the Council is Government-subsidised through fuel taxes. In Waimakariri, that subsidy is about 50%. Even with those subsidies, roading (including bridges) takes up the biggest chunk of the ratepayer dollar in the Waimakariri District.  To get the subsidy for a specific project, however, depends on the project competing successfully with other projects in the Canterbury Region.

Note that for the old Waimakariri Bridge, the cost of a clip-on would be shared amongst three sources: Government subsidy, Waimakariri District and Christchurch City.

A clip-on for the Ashley is on the Waimakariri District Council programme, but it has lost its Government subsidy.  This is because the current Government, when it came into office, cut the funding for cyclist and pedestrian facilities.  The same thing happened to the proposed Waimakariri Bridge clip-on, which was due to have been done in the next 12 months.

Hint! Hint! For those of you north of the Ashley, you live in the Kaikoura Electorate which is held by National’s Colin King.

That leaves the council with a difficult question: does it fund a clip-on without subsidy, or does it wait for the subsidy to be restored some time in the future?  The cost of a clip-on is significant and to forgo a future subsidy would be a big call.

Building a new bridge would be a major project for a District of this size, and probably would not attract subsidy for quite a few years.

None of this is good news, I’m afraid.

In the meantime, the Council is to investigate the installation of lights which flash when a cyclist is in the bridge.  I presume the cyclist pushes a button as they come on to it and it flashes for a pre-determined length of time. Apparently such a system is in place in Marlborough, so we’ll be looking at the success of that.

A Grand Old Lady Gets a Landmarks Plaque

27 May 2010

The Rangiora Town Hall received a “Landmarks” Plaque today – 84 years to the day after it was opened.  Somewhat controversial at the time (what’s new?) it now generates a lot of enthusiasm amongst many locals. It is one of the very few theatres of its type left in New Zealand.

The plaque was unveiled by Malcolm McIntosh (left), great nephew of the mayor of the time, Robert McIntosh (his wife Robina performed the actual opening in 1926). Robert was one of the two McIntosh brothers who were mayors of Rangiora and Kaiapoi at the same time.

As you can see, the plaque has yet to be fixed.  The wet weather has meant that the necessary adhesives might not work!

The unveiling featured songs from the 1920s sung by the North Canterbury Musical Society Singers (conducted by Gail Fox), speeches from Dave Sanderson of the Musical Society and from the current and former movie theatre operators, Patrick Walsh and Fred Read.  Yours truly added a few historical details.

Outside, there were a couple of Model A Fords supplied by Peter Bayler and Alan Hill. 

The grand old lady holds lots of stories and some were relayed by people present today.  It was a good way to celebrate one of the District’s notable buildings.

More Water …

26 May 2010

Patersons Road, Cust, 26 May 2010

A Big Crowd Entertained at Cust – Despite the Weather!

26 May 2010

There was a good crowd at the Cust Community Centre this afternoon being entertained by Christchurch’s 50s Up Brass Band and the Oxford Singers (above).  A fund-raiser for the Oxford District Union Parish, the programme featured a range of favourites – big band, opera and marches included.

When Is It Ever Going to Stop Raining?

26 May 2010

Retention Basin, Acacia Avenue, Rangiora, 26 May 2010

We’ve had a lot of rain in the last three days, and some parts of the District, like Oxford, are feeling the effects.  It’s still not a Civil Defence level event, but Council staff and contractors are being kept very busy.

There are parts of our District, for instance the lower-lying parts of Kaiapoi and southern Rangiora, which are historically swampy.  When we get a lot of rain, they tend to revert to their natural state.

The retention basin on the left is an example of what is supposed to happen – and the basin over the road was more-or-less empty when I took this photo this morning.  Part of the problem with this part of Rangiora is that water comes down from the rural parts of Johns Road and ends up here. The Council is working on this, but the work id not yet complete.

Obviously, with the area out to Lehmans Road within the designated urban limits, stormwater is an issue that will occupy the minds of the Council, residents and developers for some time to come.

Railway Drain culvert under Kowhai Avenue, Rangiora 26 May 2010

Even relatively new drainage works have the potential to come under pressure.  The cuklvert at the right has caused problems several times in the last couple of years and the Council has budgeted money in the coming year to investigate ways of alleviating what happens in heavy rain events.

Youth Strategy Launched

25 May 2010

The Council launched its Youth Development Strategy today, with plenty of young people present and, probably a first, rock bands in the Chamber!

The strategy comes from a number of submissions at last year’s Ten-Year Plan hearings where young people, and older people who work with young people, made it clear to the Council that the District needs a strategy that will encourage the involvement of young people in the community and make sure that the needs and aspirations of young people are considered as the District moves forward.

To “walk the talk”, the launch was run by the young people themselves.

Also launched was a new website: which should be able to be accessed fairly soon.  I think I’ve got the URL right – watch this space!

The aims of the Strategy include:

  • To develop the opportunities of young people to connect with with their social environment – family, friends, the wider commmunity, etc. 
  • To increase the range of leadership and recreational opportuniteis for young people.
  • To encourage the involvement of young people in community activities.
  • To provide a safe and vibrant place for our young people.
  • To engender an environment where young people have high self-esteem and a resect for others.

Another Kaiapoi Landmark Commemorated

15 May 2010

The former BNZ building in Kaiapoi – now housing John Rhind Funeral Directors – was given a “Landmarks” plaque this morning.  Now owned by the M E Ayres Trust, the restored building is a credit to Pat Peoples and her son Paul Ayres.

The BNZ is the second building on the site and reflects the way 19th Century banks liked to present themselves to the public: solid and safe.

The Landmarks programmes in Kaiapoi and Rangiora are slowly but surely commemorating with plaques the notable historic buildings of the towns.  It is my strong belief that increasing communities’ knowledge of the their histories helps make those communities stronger. 

Kaiapoi has a notable built heritage and around the Charles Street – Williams Street corner provides a very good example.  The former BNZ is a very important part of that precinct.

The Dudley Pool 5km Rating Zone is Gone!

14 May 2010

The 5km targeted rate on those properties within 5km (as the crow flies) of the Dudley Park Aquatic Centre is gone.

The Council has finally accepted that a District facility should be entirely funded across the District.

It has taken several years, but the final area of controversy around the new pool is now behind us. This issue has been constantly raised with me – never the actual amount, but the principle of it.  People have been repeatedly saying to me that the whole District is able to use it and that it isn;t fair that one section of the community should have to pay more.  The people saying this have been from both inside and outside the zone.

Those who voted to remove it (on my motion) were Councillors Robbie Brine, Kevin Felstead, Dan Gordon, Neil Cruickshank, Peter Farrant, Elaine Cole – and, of course, me.

Attempt to Change Uniform Annual General Charge Fails

14 May 2010

The Council is currently making its decsions on the 2010-2011 Annual Plan and Budget.

It had already received strong submissions from the farming community requesting that the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC) be restored from its current $20 to its former $70.  It went down to $20 only last year.

The UAGC is a charge that all properties pay in their rates.  Raising it has the effect of lowering the general rates for high-value properties and raising them for low-value properties.  This sounds like it is unfair on low-value, usuaully urban, properties, but it needs to be remembered that general rates form a much smaller proportion of total rates for urban properties than they do for rural.  A lot of urban rates are for water, sewer, rubbish collection, etc, which rural properties don’t pay (they pay for their own water, etc).

Lowering the UAGC last year meant that many farms had rate rises in the thousands of dollars for no change in service.  Farmers are saying that this is unfair.

Yesterday an attempt to put the uniform charge back to $70 failed by one vote.  Five voted for (Crs Dan Gordon, Kevin Felstead, Peter Farrant, Elaine Cole and myself) and five against.  In the council’s standing orders, a draw means the motion is lost.  The mayor (who opposed) doesn’t have a casting vote.

My personal view is that the rating structure of this district needs a thorough review.  Rates are not a particularly fair way of taxing people, but ours can be more fairly distributed than they are.

Rangiora Town Centre Consultation Report Nearly Ready

14 May 2010

The former Northern A & P Building, Ivory Street

The report of the council, the three citizens and business groups and the consultants on the Rangiora Town Centre is close to being completed.  It will go before a Council committee on Tuesday 18 May (i.e. next week) and hopefully released to the public shortly after that.

This will not be a final report .  It will be a discussion of issues and options and will be open for public consultation.

Countdown Hearing Opposed

14 May 2010

The hearing for the proposed Countdown supermarket in Ivory Street, Rangiora, has been postponed until, I think, July.  This is at the request of Progressive Enterprises (i.e. Countdown / Woolworths) who want to study the Council’s planning officer’s report.

The planning officer in his report opposes the building of a supermarket on this site.  His main reasons centre around its inappropriateness in a Residential 1 zone and the negative impact it would have on the Town Centre.

In addition there is opposition from residential neighbours and the adjacent Kohanga Reo pre-school.  As well as the above, they cite traffic and noise issues.

How I Sometimes Occupy My Days … Resource Consent Hearings!

10 May 2010

Actually, I haven’t had to do it too often, but I do find myself on a lot of hearings for new by-laws, District Plan changes, swimming pool fencing exemption hearings and even appeals against menacing dog classifications.

Resource consent hearings occur when someone wants to do something that is contrary to the District Plan and the council staff deem it to be a major-enough matter for the public to be notified and for people to be given a chance to be heard.  Often they are heard by a panel of three councillors but if the matter is really high-stakes, an outside commissioner will be appointed.

An example of an outside commissioner being used is for the forthcoming Countdown Supermarket hearing for Ivory Street, Rangiora.  This is supposed to have been heard by now, but the supermarket people have asked for a delay because the council planning officer has recommended against it being approved and they want to think a bit more about this.

In the last two days, I have been on hearing panels considering an application for a child-care centre in Woodend (with Dan Gordon and Roger Blair) and for approval to build a house on a lot of less than 4 hectares in Okuku (with Robbie Brine and Dan Gordon).  The former isn’t finished yet.

Often these decisions are not easy. There are a few things worth remembering, however.

  • The decision has to consider the Waimakariri District Plan and the Resource Management Act.
  • It’s not a numbers game.  The quality of the submissions and their relevance to the District Plan and the Act are more important than the number of people on one side or the other.
  • The first duty of a council planning officer is to consider the District Plan and the RMA. The panel or the commissioner will not necessarlity follow his or her advice.
  • The panel or the commissioner may have to consider whether granting consent will create a precedent elsewhere in the District.
  • Once a decision is made, it becomes the council’s decision.

There’s a lot more, but that will do for now!

“Superstar” is Great!

8 May 2010

We went to North Canterbury Musical Society’s Jesus Christ Superstar and it was a fantastic performance.  I can highly recommend it and urge you to get your tickets. Be quick – I hear they’re going fast.  Tickets are available at Harrington’s Jewellers in Rangiora, at the Visitor Centre in Kaiapoi and at the Court Theatre in Christchurch.

Consultation: We Can do Better

6 May 2010

The recent consultation on the District Plan Change and By-Law regarding access to the beaches for motor vehicles and horses showed that there can be a major problem with processes under the Local Government Act.

Take this scenario.

The Council puts out a draft bylaw for consultation.  People submit on it.  Some assume that “A” is going to take place because it is in the draft bylaw.  A whole swag of submitters, however, demand that “A” be changed to “B”.  In the light of all the submissions, the Council adopts “B”.  Those who assumed “A” was going to happen, and wanted it to happen, are up in arms because they didn’t realise that there would be a demand for “B”, so they didn’t say they opposed “B”.

I believe that there should be a two-stage submision process, where the first round of submissions are open to public scrutiny and people then can make submissions on the first submissions.  This is a process that sometimes happens under the Resource Management Act.

It might sound cumbersome, and would take longer, but at least it would be fairer – and the Council would have better handle on community views.

Great Book Sale on the Southbrook Horizon!

5 May 2010

Better Beaches – Access to Ours

4 May 2010

For a number of years, probably at least ten, the Waimakariri Council has been trying to find a solution to competing views on access to our beaches.  These include the mouth of the Waimakariri at Kairaki, Pines Beach, Woodend Beach, Waikuku Beach, the estuary and mouth of the Ashley-Rakahuri and Asworths Spit north of the Ashley mouth.  In addition, a swimming beach is proposed for Pegasus.

I don’t regard many of the views I have heard as extreme, but there is a point where compromise becomes unlikely.  Many of those who swim at our beaches or walk along them do not want motor vehicles and/or horses on the beaches.  Horse riders and trainers want to have access, as do whitebaiters with motor vehicles in the season.  Fishers want to be able to take the vehicles out to the Waimakariri mouth.  A lot of people are concerned about the damage motor vehicles do to the dunes and to wildlife and plant life, especially in the Ashley-Rakahuri estuary.  This estuary is of national importance for its birdlife.

Over the last few months, the Council has been trying to bring all the talk to a conclusion with a change to the District Plan and a By-Law.  In a very long session this afternoon, it did just that.

As a result of decisions this afternoon:

  • Motor vehicles are banned in the inter-tidal zone between Woodend Beach and the Ashley mouth, except that in the whitebait season they may access the river mouth through a locked gate (keys will be issued) at Waikuku.  The access of the latter must be along the inter-tidal zone on the seaward side of the spit.
  • Motor vehicles are permitted in the inter-tidal zone from Kairaki to a point 400m south of Woodend Beach.  Their only access is at Kairaki.
  • Motor vehicles are permitted in the inter-tidal zone on Ashworths spit.
  • Horses are permitted in the inter-tidal zone.
  • Further consultation will be undertaken to find a horse-unloading area and an access track for horses at Waikuku.
  • A horse unloading area and access track has been confirmed for Woodend Beach at the southern end of Ferry Road.
  • Tangata whenua access to reserves in their ownership is protected.

Note that motor vehicles are already banned from dunes (except along a marked route at Waikuku in the whitebaiting season) and on the soft-sand areas of the beaches.

I think this is only one stage along the way.  We will hear a lot more community discussion about our beaches for some years to come!

Celia Wilson Exhibition at the Chamber Gallery

3 May 2010

Oxford’s Celia Wilson is the latest artist to be featured in the Chamber Gallery in the Rangiora Library.

For the last few years she has been exploring the pigments to be found in the soils (and some of the plants) of Canterbury, including the road where she lives on the outskirts of Oxford.

As she says, … I have deliberately kept gesture and mark making to a minimum when applying the paint.  Then I have allowed the pigment, of its own accord, to diffuse and settle on the paper support.

The exhibition, organised by the Waimakariri Community Arts Council,  lasts until 2 June.

Riding for the Disabled, North Canterbury

3 May 2010

Yesterday North Canterbury Riding for the Disabled held an open day for the public at the North Canterbury Community College – and a lot turned up.

A very active committee is aiming to build a covered arena for their activities – but also to be put to use by other groups in the community.

This, to me, is another example of the strength of this Waimakariri community: it works together and gets things done.

Local Special Olympian Graeme Moore tries out one of the horses

The View that Tourists Get

3 May 2010

One of the features of railways all round the world is that their routes into cities and towns often give passengers the worst possible view of those towns and cities – reflecting the fact that railway lines have historically attracted industry.  The Keep Rangiora Beautiful group is working to change that.  A lot of their plantings have been along the railway so that the passengers on the TranzCoastal get a better impression of Rangiora.  Below you can see them hard at work alongside Rangiora Bakery’s new building.

Cut off from the World …

3 May 2010

Obviously it didn’t hit everyone, because there were quite a few hits on the blog, but yesterday I couldn’t get on the internet. The guy on the end of the phone at Xtra said there was a problem at the local exchange and they were working on it. I wonder how many in North Canterbury were affected?

It’s amazing how dependant some of us have got on the net and email.

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