Archive for the ‘Greater Christchurch’ Category

Canterbury Provincial Brass Band Champs in Rangiora Town Hall 

24 September 2016

On all afternoon and into the evening using the new removable extension to the stage. 

Flowers in the Avon

23 February 2016

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I hope the dropping of flowers into the Avon/Otakaro on 22 February continues into the future. We won’t always have the earthquake-caused road cones for them.

David Ayers, Mayor, Waimakariri

Super City?

12 June 2015

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Street sign not too far from the centre of the 4 million urban conglomeration known as Melbourne. No sign of a super city there!

If You Use the Blue Buses …

22 May 2015

The following is a media release from ECan and CERA.  Note the change to the Blue Line route.

  

Media Release – 21 May 2015

 

 

New opening date for Bus Interchange

 

 

Christchurch’s new Bus Interchange will open to the public, and services will begin operating from it, on Monday 25 May.

 

The $53 million facility was originally meant to become operational on May 18, and although construction was on schedule, a software issue meant the system was not reliable enough for the facility to open. This issue is now resolved.

 

“We have really appreciated people’s understanding and patience while we have worked through this issue,” says Christchurch Central Development Unit Acting Director Baden Ewart.

 

“I think those who use this facility will be impressed. It also means that the existing Central Station across the road can close, and work on the new Justice and Emergency Services Precinct can proceed in that area.”

 

The Bus Interchange will open in two stages. Initially half of the 16 bus bays will be operational while construction continues in the second stage area. This second stage, including the remainder of the bus bays, some of the passenger lounge area, some retail areas and a bicycle lock-up area, will open this Winter.

 

The city’s bus network is operated by Environment Canterbury. Chief Executive Bill Bayfield believes customers will enjoy getting into the new building just in time for Winter.

“Our customers have been amazing over the past three years, using the temporary Central Station and just getting on with it,” he says.

“The new Bus Interchange, while still a work in progress, gets everyone under cover for Winter. We’re really looking forward to welcoming everyone there on Monday morning.”

The opening of the Bus Interchange means that inner city bus routes will change.  Buses are now designated to use Manchester Street, and so routes will change across the central city.

While all CBD bus routes are affected, those with the biggest changes are the Blue Line, the 17, 28 and 29.  Customers using these routes are advised to check route maps at metroinfo.co.nz.

 

For further information contact the CERA Media Team on (03) 354 2627 or media@cera.govt.nz

Flowers on the Avon

22 February 2015

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Flowers float down the Avon in memory of those who died on 22 February 2011.

Four Years On …

22 February 2015

Check out @AyersDavidL’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/AyersDavidL/status/569228675423412224?s=09

The Future of ECan

7 January 2014

On New Year’s Day there was an article in The Press on the future of Environment Canterbury, currently governed by Government-appointed commissioners.  I was quoted with a couple of lines from an interview that went for about ten minutes.

I strongly support a return to a fully-elected Canterbury Regional Council (ECan) but it seems to me that a mixture of elected (the majority) and appointed ECan members could be a way to go for the 2016 elections before getting back to a fully elected body in 2019.  I haven’t been a member of Amnesty International for 35 years to not believe in democratic rights.

People need to realise that of the current Canterbury mayors, only one (Kelvin Coe of Selwyn) was a mayor at the time the commissioners were put into Ecan in 2010.  There is now a very different group of people in place.

One problem that ECan has always had to deal with is that the major part of their work (water and land)  actually happens in rural areas and affects farmers in particular.  Individually, farmers pay substantial rates to ECan, although the total rates paid into Ecan mainly come from the urban area of Christchurch – it’s just that Christchurch has so many ratepayers, each paying a relatively small amount.  That also means that the voting power lies with Christchurch. In my observation, most of the opposition to the insertion of commissioners came from urban voters, because of the loss of democracy, and most of the support came from rural voters, because they felt that they had been having little say in how their rates were being spent.

I think the model of the Water Zone Committees, which are community committees jointly appointed by ECan and the relevant District councils (we have just one in Waimakariri, covering the whole District) has possibilities for the future.  These bring together farming, environmental and recreational interests and so far they are working well. If that model works, the greater voting power of urban Christchurch shouldn’t be an issue.

Minister Adams came to the last Canterbury Mayoral Forum and didn’t indicate any Government preferences.  It is entirely possible that the Government does not yet have a view, because she came to ask questions, not to tell us anything.  What is different from 2010, is that I will be doing my level best to make this discussion a public one that all Canterbury people have access to.

Despite what was said in the same article, I don’t detect a desire on the part of the mayors to do away with ECan.  Christchurch has long argued that they want to be a unitary authority, but I haven’t heard Lianne express a view herself.  Some of the other councils are arguably big enough to be unitary authorities (Waimakariri, Selwyn, Timaru, Ashburton) but others (Kaikoura, Hurunui, Mackenzie, Waimate, Waitaki) are probably not.  Talking about unitary authorities thus leads to a discussion about amalgamations, which I don’t think many in Canterbury want.  I certainly don’t.  There is the other problem that water is Canterbury’s big issue but the main rivers (Waimakariri, Rakaia, Rangitata, Waitaki) are all, for good community-of-interest reasons, District boundaries. Unitary authorities based on current boundaries would have trouble dealing with the rivers consistently.

One significant ECan function that could be dealt with at a District/City level is public transport.  Timaru is stand-alone anyway, and our main concern with the Christchurch system would be to make sure that Waimakariri and Selwyn have a proper say.

The issues are therefore Canterbury issues, not just Christchurch or even “Greater” Christchurch.

Building Consents at Highest Level Ever in Waimakariri

28 February 2013

These graphs speak for themselves.

WAIMAKARIRI DISTRICT  BUILDING CONSENTS FOR NEW DWELLINGS 2013-4WAIMAKARIRI DISTRICT  BUILDING CONSENTS FOR NEW DWELLINGS 2013-2

22 February

23 February 2013

Our community in this part of Canterbury has gone through a lot since 4 September 2010, and for many it is by no means over.  Many are suffering and there is a lot to be done.

But 22 February is about those who died in Christchurch on that day in 2011.  One of our sons was in the central city that day. As my wife, Marilyn, sometimes says, “At least our son came home that day”.  It helps put things in some perspective, because 185 sons and daughters, husbands and wives, did not come home.

“The Christchurch Fiasco” – a Book Worth Reading

19 February 2013

Chch Fiasco

 

The Christchurch Fiasco is, as you can see by the picture of the cover, a book about the activities and performance of the insurance industry following the Canterbury earthquakes.

Written by Sarah Miles, a lawyer who lives (or was living, before her house fell to pieces!) in West Melton, it is a hard-hitting look at what many Cantabrians have been going through, especially those who have got badly-damaged homes.

She is also critical of the Government’s role.

While she doesn’t let EQC off the hook, she gives them better raps than than the insurance industry.

Her comments on local government are limited to Christchurch City Council, so Waimakariri (and Selwyn) readers might feel a bit left out, but what she says about insurance applies just as much to our District as to our friends south of the river.

My local bookshop sold out too quickly for me, but I got it on order from Rangiora PaperPlus and expect others who are interested could get a copy through the likes of Kaiapoi Take Note or Emma’s Bookshop in Oxford.

It was published by Dunmore Publishing late last year (2012), so is very up-t0-date.

Schools Announcements for Waimakariri – Nothing New

19 February 2013

The Government’s announcements yesterday added nothing to what is already known for Waimakariri.

Kaiapoi Borough School can remain on its current site. The future of the school was not in question, but there was a question over the land, given its close proximity to the Kaiapoi River. The land isn’t great, especially close to the river, but there is room to rebuild further away on the same site if necessary. All this is good news, because another site in Kaiapoi isn’t obvious.

Waikuku School will move to Pegasus and presumably change its name accordingly. This has been on the agenda for something like 15 years – it was just a question of when Pegasus had grown to a point that would justify the move. The Waikuku School community is pleased because their current site on the Main North Road (State Highway 1) is not great. Building of the new school should start soon.

The Government has also signalled that a new school will be built in western Rangiora at some time in the near future. Again, there has been talk about primary school provision in Rangiora for close to ten years, but clearly Rangiora’s current growth spurt has concentrated minds in the Ministry of Education!  Council structure plans for west Rangiora already have a suggested site for  a school, but this is more conceptual thn real, so no actual site has been chosen.

 

In the Rangiora Library: Canterbury Museum Tells Its Story About Repairing Exhibits

18 October 2012

The Canterbury Museum came out of the earthquakes surprisingly well.  Although some of the newer parts of the buildings aren’t up to current building standard, the early neo-gothic part, strengthened in the 1980s & ’90s, came through very well.  They are the only part of Christchurch’s Victorian Gothic heritage to survive relatively undamaged.

The collection also suffered little damage, although some items obviously didn’t.  In the Rangiora Library there is currently a video display showing how repairs are being carried out.

 

 

How About a Super Waimakariri? – Watch out Christchurch!

10 September 2012

Back in the 1960s, Ghanaian one-party ruler Kwame Nkrumah went to China on a state visit and while he was away the army overthrew him.  He couldn’t even get back to his own country.

I go to Aussie on grandad duty for 5 days, and the Minister of Local Government announces a review of Canterbury local government in 2014. People start talking amalgamations.  I should have paid closer attention to history.

So should we look forward to a super-city? Some points to consider …

  1. Auckland city and district councils had a history of poor co-operation.  Canterbury city and district councils have cooperated well since the 1989 reorganisation.  Examples include the Greater Christchurch Development Strategy and the shared landfill at Kate Valley.
  2. Before the recent organisation, urban Auckland was run by 6 or 7 cities and districts. Urban Wellington has four. Urban Christchurch already has only one.
  3. Canterbury is not a city.  It’s a region or province stretching from beyond Kaikoura to beyond the Waitaki River.  It takes five or six hours to drive from one end to the other.
  4. A question for those who think Waimakariri and Selwyn, or parts of them, should be absorbed into Christchurch. What are their proposals for the rest of Canterbury?
  5. Waimakariri and Christchurch share one, repeat one, piece of infrastructure: the old Waimakariri Bridge on the Main North Road. No pipes, no other roads, connect the two areas.

Of course, the other option is for Waimakariri to absorb Christchurch.  Perhaps we could put that to a vote in the city.

 

ECan Commissioners to Remain in the Meantime: Some Thoughts

7 September 2012

The Government has announced today that Environment Canterbury, the Regional Council, will continue to be governed by commissioners until 2016, with a review on its future to be conducted in 2014.

One of the reasons for the delay in reaching final decisions has been given as the effect of the Canterbury earthquakes.

I have to agree with that.  Councils in the Greater Christchurch area (Christchurch, Waimakariri, Selwyn and ECan) do not need the distraction of a governance debate while our focus has to be on earthquake recovery.  My direct experience of the 1989 reorganisation was that a lot of time and energy was sucked up in the process. While the future governance of ECan would not necessarily affect the three territorial authorities, public speculation and debate on amalgamations, etc. had already started and would have intensified.  No thanks – we in Waimakariri have much more important work to do in the meantime.

The matter of having unelected commisisoners governing ECan will certainly raise some hackles – I have already received a tweet about it!  In the longer term, it is my view that a Council dealing with regional environmental and development issues and with regional resources, and responsible for regional regulation, should be answerable to the regional electorate. In the interim, however, I have been impressed with the performance of the Commissioners. Dame Margaret Bazley and her team have worked closely with the 10 territorial councils in the Region and have engaged very well with the community.  In other words, they have behaved as good elected  councillors should.

An important focus has been the implementation of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy. In our case the Waimakariri Zone Committee has worked very well, consulted our community on a number of occasions and has set a clear way forward through its Zone Implementation Programme. Commissioner Rex Williams has played a full part in this Committee.

Looking to the future, a key issue for the Region is the fact that the majority of its population lives in Christchurch which therefore holds the electoral power but the most significant work lies, and has greater impact, in the rural areas. The greater part of ECan’s income probably comes from the city, but individually rural ratepayers would, on average, pay higher ECan rates than their city counterparts.

The distribution of representation is therefore an issue. In the end we have to remember that we are all Cantabrians and our urban areas (which are not just in Christchurch, of course) and our rural areas are interdependent.

What’s Happening About the Woodend Bypass?

9 January 2012
What NZTA think the Main North Road / Woodend Road intersection might look like with trafffic lights

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) are still considering the results of the consultation that was carried out last year.  At that point, they asked for comment on three bypass options and three widening options for Main North Road.  I gather their next move will be to come back to the community with a final two design options: one for a bypass and and one for a Main North Road widening.

One issue of concern that emerged from last year’s consultation was concern from Pineacres residents over the size and impact of changes in hteir neighbourhood where a newly-extended Christchurch Northern Motorway (i.e. the Woodend Bypass) would link with the existing Main North Road.

The “Kaiapoi” Fault – What’s the Story?

7 January 2012

I went to the GNS Science briefing yesterday to hear about the latest flurry of aftershocks.  And yes, the 5.2 at 1.21 a.m. this morning did wake me up.

The “Kaiapoi” Fault is the new name for the one they’ve discovered under the sea off the Waimakariri mouth.  It does not pass underneath Kaiapoi.

Most of the recent aftershocks have been out to sea and although they are trending north-east, they aren’t affecting this fault.  The seismologists told us that the Kaiapoi Fault has been active periodically in geological time which means that there has been a progressive release of stress along it.  That should be good news for us in North Canterbury because that release of stress means that it is less likely to be a big one if the fault ruptures.

We are likely to continue to get aftershocks in this part of Canterbury for many years, although as time goes on they will become imperceptible.  Aftershocks from the 1968 Inangahua quake are still going on.

The aftershocks experienced in the Oxford area after the September earthquake were not unexpected.  Apparently the Mount Oxford area is quite seismologically active and, once again, the periodic release of stress is a good thing.

None of this, of course, takes away the very real threat to the region of the Alpine Fault, which is on the boundary of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates.

Why are Waimakariri and Selwyn Under CERA?

16 May 2011

CERA – the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (or Act – take your pick) is the new acronym that we will be living with for some time. It is due to expire after five yeas. Everybody seems to be pronouncing it “Sarah”.

In some ways, Waimakariri and Selwyn might have been able to get by without it, but both Councils decided that there were some potential advantages for us – even although our damage mostly came in the September earthquake.

The Act gives the Authority powers that might need to be used as we in Waimakariri undertake land remediation on behalf of the the Government and EQC. We also didn’t want to be forgotten about as CERA tackled the horrific damage in Christchurch caused by the February ‘quake.

It’s as simple as that. Provided we two Councils look as though we are coping with our own damage, CERA will probably let us get on with it.

There were fears that CERA might ride over local concerns and charge ahead in spite of the people of Canterbury. Early indications, however, are that this is not happening – there seems to be a real attempt at engagement.

And the post-September Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commission (see below)? It’s gone.

Local Government Reform in Canterbury: My Position

3 October 2010

Having already been on the Local Government scene for six years when the 1989 restructuring took place, I know how difficult the process can be.  The successive amalgamations of Rangiora Borough and Rangiora District, then the new District with Eyre County, and then that new Rangiora District with Kaiapoi Borough, Oxford County and part of Hurunui County to form Waimakariri were all done differently.  Even in the space of three years, history didn’t repeat itself!

The replacement of the Canterbury Regional Council (ECan) with commissioners suggests that Canterbury is in for another shake-up.  I doubt that ECan will return in its former guise.  I am prepared to work constructively with the Government, the commissioners and neighbouring councils to review the future functions of territorial councils like Waimakariri.  It could well be that district councils will take on some of ECan’s current functions.

We need to make sure, however, that this works to the advantage of ratepayers and residents.

I do not believe that anything would be gained by amalgamations unless there was widespread public support – nor do I think that such moves are likely from the Government.

More on the Woodend Bypass

20 September 2010

At tonight’s Woodend candidates meeting, the Mayor said that he supported a State Highway Bypass of Woodend.  For the record, this is the crucial motion that the Mayor voted against on 2 September 2008:

That the Council adopts the modified Short Eastern bypass alignment as generally indicated by the Transit NZ consultation process as its preferred option, subject to NZTA acknowledging that the existing designation on the current alignment will not be used for four laning of the state highway and subject to a route being adopted that, (i) avoids New Zealand Historic Places Trust registered buildings and sites, and (ii) minimises the destruction of existing houses.

If this motion had not passed, it would have meant that the Council would have been tacitly supporting the four-laning of the Main North Road through Woodend.

There have been no other resolutions on this subject since then.

The Woodend Bypass: My Position

20 September 2010

I strongly support a State Highway 1 bypass around the town.  I always have – and I voted for it when it last came up at the Council.  I regard the current route through the middle of the town as totally unacceptable.

Note that the Mayor and Cr Cole both voted against the bypass.

See also https://davidayers.wordpress.com/2008/09/02/council-decision-on-state-highway-1-route-in-woodend and https://davidayers.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/woodend-bypass-update/

More on the Future of (Our!) Local Government

4 August 2010

What might the Auckland super city mean for the rest of us? – from a Local Government NZ Newsletter 

This a constant topic at LGNZ meetings and a number of seminars have been organised by lawyers and consultants to capitalise on the issue.

 Views range from the conspiracy theorists, who see Auckland as the first step in a plot by government to reduce the number of councils significantly – the lowest number I have heard so far is six (not counting the Chathams).

 Then there are the proponents of change who would like to use the momentum created by the Auckland debate to encourage a discussion in their own localities about the optimum shape and number of councils. Wellington and Hawke’s Bay come to mind.

 And then there are the others, who believe that any future change will be led by communities and be a response to preferences expressed by the community.

 The Government is definitely encouraging us to the latter view – the most commonly recollected statement by the Prime Minister at his opening speech to our conference last week on the future reorganisation of local government “Any further changes of that type will be community-led, not central government-led”. He also pledged to using his considerable personal influence to improve public turnout in the local body elections. The Minister for Local Government, who also talks of a “response to calls for change”, in his speech and views elsewhere (see above) has widely decided to set aside the time to have the debate.

 Before any further decisions are made, we will all have the chance to consider and to contribute to a discussion document that will be left for the Government of the next term to act on. But this in no way detracts from the need to start thinking about these issues now. LGNZ will provide the platform and the opportunity for councils across New Zealand to have this discussion, and then to take the outcomes of that discussion outwards and upwards.

Amalgamation Not On The Agenda – Prime Minister Says

30 July 2010

Report from Radio New Zealand:

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide wants a re-think of the roles and size of all local councils in New Zealand.

Mr Hide says a review of the constitutional status and functions of local government will look at how to get rid of red tape.

The minister told Morning Report on Tuesday that he wants to empower local councils, saying they should be recognised as an independent and autonomous tier of the Government.

Mr Hide believes the changes in Auckland will drive a change in how central government deals with local bodies.

However, Prime Minister John Key says the Government has no plans to push for local government amalgamation in areas other than Auckland, where reforms will result in eight councils being merged into one in November.

Mr Key says there were serious problems in Auckland that needed to be addressed. While there may a case for consolidation in other parts of the country, he says he would prefer it to be community led.

While it is clear that changes in Canterbury are likely in the functions of  the Regional Council on the one hand and the District/City councils on the other, such changes can occur without changes to the boundaries or number of local bodies.  There are a number of conceivable scenarios.

See also my previous post: https://davidayers.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/will-the-government-do-an-auckland-on-us/

Will the Government “Do An Auckland” On Us?

29 June 2010

It is fairly clear that there will be changes in the Canterbury Local Government scene by 2013, if only because it is unlikely that Environment Canterbury will return in its previous form.

But there are differences between us and Auckland.  The problem in Auckland has been the failure of the councils to co-operate sufficiently to address city-wide issues.

In the Greater Christchurch area, the Christchurch, Waimakariri and Selwyn Councils have been co-operating, notably in the greater Christchurch Urban Developement Strategy (UDS) – and have been joined in this by ECan and the NZ Transport Agency (formerly Transit NZ).

One result of this has been the fast-tracking of major roading projects because the region already had its joint planning in place.  The Christchurch Southern Motorway is already under construction.

A re-designation of ECan’s functions could result in the amalgamation of district/city councils, but my guess is that this is unlikely.  Furthermore, the requirement of the Local Government Commission to consider community of interest as the main criterion for determining district boundaries could lead them down the track of splitting districts in two.  I suspect that would be a step which the government would be unwilling to take.

With regard to any amalgamation between Christchurch and Waimakariri, we need to remember that the Waimakariri River is a very strong boundary from a local government point of view. There is only one piece of shared infrastructure – the old road bridge – and all other infrastructure is totally separate.

Public Transport Directions – Sydney, too, is arguing

20 February 2010

Those of us who have visited Sydney may have been impressed by the public transport system: ferries criss-crossing that magnificent harbour, frequent trains and buses – even a limited light-rail service.  But despite these services, parts of the city are often clogged by cars.  There have been something like six reports trying to find a solution to what they see as a worsening problem.  They are trying to get the right mix of heavy rail, light rail and buses – along with a “metro” – a service something between heavy and light rail largely running underground.

The latest report, commissioned, I htink, by the Sydney Morning Herald, a sister-publication of the Christchurch Press, is just out.  It advocates a different approach from what the NSW state government is planning.

Obviously, Sydney with its 4 million-plus population is of a scale entirely different from Greater Christchurch.  Nevertheless,  there areclear lessons: it is important to plan for the long-term (the 35-year horizon of the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy is not far enough), be prepared to be flexible as time passes and, as far as is possible, achieve a consensus on the best direction. 

It’s not only about commuters …

17 February 2010

In the projected upgrading of the road links into and around Christchurch, we need to remember that it’s not only about commuters.

Waimakariri’s farms and other businesses depend on good links to suppliers, distributors and markets.  The trucks have to have good access to the airport, Lyttelton and to areas such as Hornby.

Over such distances, freighting by rail is not an option.

What’s Wrong With a Shovel?

26 January 2010

Yesterday, an a display of overkill, Transport Minister Steven Joyce used a digger to turn the first sod of the Christchurch Southern Motorway.  This is the first stage of an accelerated programme of major roading building on the part of the National-led Government.

In general, I agree that Greater Christchurch needs these roads and, while none of them are in Waimakariri, the District will nevertheless benefit.

I just wish that there had been a bit of money for a cycle and pedestrian clip-on for the old Waimakariri bridge south of Kaiapoi.

“Roads of National Significance”

7 January 2010

The National-led Government has altered some of the transport priorities of the previous government and has put what it has identified as Roads of National Significance at the top of the construction list.  Nine of them are in the North Island.

The one in the South Island is what the Government calls “Christchurch Motorway Projects”  They have actually grouped several projects under this heading.  They are:

  1. The Christchurch Southern Motorway from the western end of Brougham Street to Hornby.
  2. The Christchurch Southern Motorway stage II.  This will extend the motorway from Hornby to the Main South Road near Rolleston and include four-laning the Main South Road from the end of the Motorway to Rolleston.
  3. The Belfast North-Western By-Pass that will put a four lane road from the winery near The Groynes on Johns Road to the Northern Motorway.
  4. Four-laning Johns Road, Russley Road and through Hornby to the Main South Road, i.e. the State Highway 1 bypass of Christchurch.  This will include a fly-over intersection at Memorial Avenue.
  5. The Christchurch Northern Arterial which will link Queen Elizabeth Drive with the Northern Motorway at Chaneys, passing to the east of Belfast.

Obviously, the last three will be of greatest significance to Waimakariri residents.

Woodend Bypass Update

5 January 2010

No real news – but, hey, it is the silly season!

The board of the NZ Transport Agency (which incoporates Transit NZ) will make a decision sometime this year, hopefully.  They have already removed the long eastern option (through the Pegasus Western Conservation Area) and will only be considering the short eastern bypass and four-laning the existing road.

In the meantime the Transport Agency have put money into the 3-year budget to begin initial design work, etc. on whatever route is chosen.

More on Light Rail

1 January 2010

See my post of two days ago to see where this is coming from.

See Light Rail – what is it? in the pages on the right of your secreen.

A couple of examples from Europe:

 
 
 

Commuter train and light rail on either side of a platform in suburban Berne, Switzerland.

Light rail (foreground) using heavy rail tracks in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Light Rail for Waimakariri?

30 December 2009

Christchurch’s mayor, Bob Parker, is again promoting light rail as part of Greater Christchurch’s transport mix.  I welcome his keeping it in the public eye.

People in Waimakariri often say to me that we should be using rail more than we are and certainly we should be continuously considering it.  My view is that some sort of commuter rail link is likely in the future – but not yet.  As this District continues to grow, particularly around Kaiapoi, Woodend-Pegasus and Rangiora, public transport, both to Christchurch and within the District (linking the three nodes) will become increasingly important.

At present, the effort has been going into improving the bus services, as with the dramatically improved Northern Star service and the creation of bus lanes in Papanui and Main North Roads.  Buses have the advantage of flexibility: it is easy to change their routes to meet changing needs and they can use existing infrastructure (i.e. roads).  One obvious disadvantage is that they tend to get caught up in the very traffic congestion that we are trying to alleviate – although that is a disadvantage for on-road light rail too.

In Waimakariri, it would be possible to run commuter heavy rail into Christchurch (although the Christchurch stations may not be conveniently located).  It would also be possible to run light rail on the heavy rail tracks – although we could have a problem with stability on NZ’s narrow 3ft 6in railway gauge (our trams run on a wider gauge).  I think light rail has a better future for Waimakariri than heavy rail because it would link in better with any future Christchurch network (already started with the historic tram routes in the centre of the city).

Light rail would be very expensive now – in fact, too expensive – but the last thing that Greater Christchurch wants is to put itself in the position of Auckland, where a lack of foresight is now costing them and the country heaps.

So what should we do in Waimakariri?

  • preserve the rail corridor and, where possible, preserve current opportunities for double tracking (probably needed for successful communter services).
  • keep the Rangiora railway station from deteriorating.
  • identify and preserve a site for a new Kaiapoi railway station.
  • identify and preserve other commuter light-rail routes to, particularly, Woodend-Pegasus, and within Kaiapoi and Rangiora.
  • include light rail in our park-and-ride thinking.

There may be more!  – but, whatever we do, let’s think long-term.


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