Heather du Plessis-Allan: Councils are ignoring the impact of making CBD's car-free

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 17 Jun 2021, 7:48PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Councils are ignoring the impact of making CBD's car-free

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 17 Jun 2021, 7:48PM

Can councils for just one second please start caring about what they’re doing to businesses in their area? 

This decision to ban cars from central Wellington is so stupid.  We all know this because we’re all seeing it roll out across our own towns and suburbs up and this country but this is now in Wellington on a bigger scale.  

Clearly this is moronic. It’s hard enough for Wellingtonians to get around town at the moment with all the streets available to them, just like it is for most of us in our towns.  It’s jammed.  There are more people in our towns now than the existing infrastructure can handle.

Councils should be building infrastructure - like a tunnel through Mt Victoria – not taking infrastructure away. 

The impact that this will have no business is no longer a theory.  We are seeing what councils can do to people’s livelihoods.  We have businesses in Auckland today protesting outside their council because of the disruption caused by the CRL works.  We have a guy in Henderson saying his revenue is down 54 percent in his shop because the council has redirected traffic and stuffed it up all. 

This is probably exactly what’s going to happen in Wellington. 

You take these streets away so people struggle to drive around even more, you take away up to 200 car parks when the city is already down about 3000 from the Kaikōura quake, and you essentially stop people wanting to come into town. 

Mum and dad, kids in the back, coming in from Johnsonville, blustery day, prospect of driving around 20 minutes trying to find one of the few available parks while navigating the new weird street system, those guys are just going straight out to the mall in the suburbs.

You know how much the officials care?  Siobhan Procter, who is the projects director for Let's Get Wellington Moving, said most of the retail spend comes from pedestrians and public transport users anyway.  Only 23 percent of it comes from private vehicles users so “there is very little risk of any downside to retailers”. 

Very little risk? A quarter of business. These people run on a net margin of less than 4 percent most of the time, so a quarter of business is a lot, lady. 

These shops are already dealing with public servants working from home after the lockdown, car parking rates going up, and parts of the city unsafe because the government filled central city hotels with homeless people.

Councils have no idea what they’re doing to people.  Hating cars cannot be more important than the people trying to eke out a living in the city.