‘I want to bury the city in flowers. I’m so proud to be an Aucklander!’ said our chair Barb Cuthbert in a post on Facebook after the news came through that Auckland Council had unanimously voted to support the SkyPath PPP proposal, which means the project can go ahead (pending NZTA’s license to occupy and the resolution of the remaining appeal).
We then literally buried some of the special helpers in flowers, because why not!
Earlier in the day, Barb had showered the councillors with encouragement and admiration for their work so far, inviting them to reach for the next gift to the city. [You can see the full footage here – Barb’s bit starts at 6m15s.]
‘This council, in its two terms, has put Auckland up there in the international city stakes. You’ve made a huge change to how Aucklanders see themselves. We’re proud of the fact that we now have a motorway network that’s just about joined up. We’re immensely proud of the fact that today – and you can take great credit for this – it’s one year since the electric trains start running and we have a highly efficient train network. That is what happens when a council of this nature works together.’
‘Also, I’d like to congratulate the writer of the report the you’ve received today, [which] has managed to pull together all of the documentation you have been considering since 2011 on Skypath. I’m a planner by profession, and I have never ever seen a project examined, analysed, and taken to the cleaners in the way this project has. It’s just stunning, the depth of analysis that you have undertaken. This is extremely responsible governance. I thank you for that, and I thank Marguerite [Pearson], the writer of that report.’
Note the pink ribbon on the bouquet – that’s a nod to when Barb praised Council for its key role in bringing Lightpath to full life:
‘It was your $2 million dollars for Lightpath that made it pink! That is the difference that this Council can make when it just gives a little bit of a leg-up. And that is what’s being asked of you today. The difference between something that’s pedestrian, and something that has you applauded throughout the world.’
Barb also took a moment to put the potential SkyPath numbers in perspective for councillors and the residents of Northcote Point. (Here’s a video for comparison, showing twice the projected peak patronage). After all, a steady trickle of people on foot and on bikes flows through Lightpath and other new infrastructure, and yet seems invisible to passing motorists…
‘When we get around on a bike, we’re really quite small, we’re not noticed so much. We move quietly and efficiently, and we’re quite compact. Just as with 1800 people a day riding along Tamaki Drive [peak summer numbers on the bike counters] – it’s not a crisis, that is how our city moves. That is how SkyPath will be moving.’
Speaking of numbers – Timothy Duhamel’s excellent map of support for SkyPath’s resource consent was pretty persuasive on the day, to show the size of the support, Auckland-wide (and beyond!).
When Councillor Ross Clow, chairing the meeting, noted Barb’s time was nearly up, he sounded tempted to ignore the clock as ‘we don’t often have people come and say how wonderful we are!’ (‘Keep going!’ chimed in another councillor).
‘It’s absolutely genuine,’ replied Barb. ‘This council delivers. This council will deliver today. This council will deliver this vital piece of infrastructure.’ (Prophetic!). Showing a map of the planned network, she noted what’s plainly evident: ‘All paths lead to SkyPath!’
And, a few hours later, so they did – in a swift and unanimous vote.
There were many other highlights of the hearing, and there are a few more steps to the process, both of which we’ll cover in future posts.
For now, it’s a beautiful day to be grateful for unequivocal confirmation that the project will happen.
- We’re grateful to the councillors for getting it – your vision is truly a gift to Auckland.
- Councillor Chris Darby and Waitemata Local Board Deputy Chair Pippa Coom have assembled a fabulous roll-call of the many, many, MANY people to be thanked for their work and support over the years, to append to our timeline of four decades of campaigning.
- We also thank all the Aucklanders (and beyond!) who’ve ever enthused about this possibility. Your voices count – and we’ll be counting on you to keep enthusing during the upcoming elections.
- And of course a special shout-out, plus real live flowers (by bike!) to the tireless council officers, in particular Marguerite, for her splendid job, which made Council’s decision so straightforward… and so unanimous.
What was so great about yesterday’s vote was not just the way everyone came on board to support walking and cycling across our beautiful harbour. It’s the way walking and cycling, our most humble and ordinary and efficient ways of getting around, were what brought the Council together as one.
All together now: bikes build bridges!