‘It would not be used’: Christchurch mayoral hopefuls disagree on light rail


The chances of Christchurch getting light rail may depend on who wins the race for the city’s mayoralty.

Leading mayoral candidates Phil Mauger and David Meates politely clashed on the topic during a debate on Friday hosted by The Press and Te Pūtahi, the Centre for Architecture and City Making.

During the debate, held at Tūranga, Christchurch’s central library, Meates and Mauger were questioned by The Press editor Kamala Hayman and Te Pūtahi director Jessica Halliday on topics including climate change, transport, housing and the arts.

When it comes to light rail, Mauger said he wanted to wait until buses are full of commuters and well-used before pushing ahead with light rail, but Meates said the city needed to start planning for light rail now.

READ MORE:
* Christchurch mayoral candidates debate trust, climate and student issues
* Mauger and Meates tussle over transport at Christchurch mayoral debate
* Mauger well ahead in Christchurch mayoral poll, but Meates says race is ‘very winnable’
* Councillor invited council CEO to dinner to place ‘bets’ on who will win seats at election
* Property developers and business owners provide financial backing to mayoral contender

“I would hate to see us get to an Auckland [situation] where we’re retrofitting things that have not been planned,” Meates said.

Christchurch mayoral candidates Phil Mauger and David Meates shake hands after the debate.

KAI SCHWOERER/Stuff

Christchurch mayoral candidates Phil Mauger and David Meates shake hands after the debate.

The council would play a critical role in getting the long-term planning right, Meates said.

Mauger said he did not think the city was ready for light rail yet, but was sad to see that no land was left in the newly built northern and southern motorways to accommodate it.

“If the buses were chocka and we put plenty more on because of the demand, then you’d say, ‘Let’s start building it’. But I think if we started building it … it would not be used.”

Mauger said cheaper fares on buses that take effect next year would be a game changer for transport carbon emissions.

Mauger says if light rail starts to get built, it willl not be used.

KAI SCHWOERER/Stuff

Mauger says if light rail starts to get built, it willl not be used.

“The easiest way to someone’s heart is through their pocket,” Mauger said. “You lower the prices … and make it more regular, people will use it.”

Meates questioned Mauger’s thinking on this.

He did not believe fares were the biggest factor stopping people from getting on buses, arguing the bus service needed to be safe, efficient and reliable.

“When you have to wait for a bus and it doesn’t turn up, the likelihood of using it again is not good.”

Mauger said it had been “a wee while” since he took the bus.

Meates says fares are not the biggest factor stopping people from using buses.

KAI SCHWOERER/Stuff

Meates says fares are not the biggest factor stopping people from using buses.

Meates said the way buses were being used had to be re-thought. “We’ve got to think larger than just Christchurch, it has to link with Selwyn and Waimakariri.”

While transport dominated the debate, the two candidates were also asked what their legacy would be if elected.

Mauger said he wanted to make Christchurch the best place to live, work, invest and play in the country.

His plan on how to do that was for Christchurch to host the Commonwealth Games.

“Sometimes with Commonwealth Games, it breaks a city because they just can’t afford it. We’ve got all this stuff … we might as well use it and if it brings people to town and gets the city humming, that’s what I’d like to see one day.”

The debate covered topics including climate change, transport, housing and the arts.

KAI SCHWOERER/Stuff

The debate covered topics including climate change, transport, housing and the arts.

Mauger listed a number of amenities including the Parakiore metro sports centre, due to open next year, Te Pae convention centre, Margaret Mahy playground, Nga Puna Wai sports facility and the Te Kaha stadium, which is yet to be built.

Meates said his legacy would be a “confident, forward-focused city that’s actually got its own narrative”.

He wants the city to be able to tell its own story and be recognised as a climate leader that attracts innovators.

The pair were questioned on how they were going to pay for the $200m cost overrun of the stadium.

There have been suggestions that the council would seek capital funding from the surrounding regional councils, but Meates said if he was a member of one of those regional communities and was asked to bail out Christchurch, he probably would not.

The Press editor Kamala Hayman and Te Pūtahi director Jessica Halliday moderated the debate.

KAI SCHWOERER/Stuff

The Press editor Kamala Hayman and Te Pūtahi director Jessica Halliday moderated the debate.

“That leaves a challenge for us as a city.”

When asked about their favourite public spaces, Mauger said Cranmer Square, noting its beauty.

“All the soldiers from World War I left there to march down to the rail station to go on the train to Lyttelton, and some of them never came back,” he said.

Meates chose two – the Port Hills and the area of the city near The Welder health and wellbeing centre. On the latter, he was complimentary of the area’s innovation and start-ups.

Mauger and Meates are the two front-runners among the eleven candidates.

KAI SCHWOERER/Stuff

Mauger and Meates are the two front-runners among the eleven candidates.

The pair were also asked about the future of Christchurch as its population grows and housing becomes intensified.

Halliday asked the pair what they would do to ensure a densely populated Christchurch remained liveable.

Mauger said making sure communities had access to parks.

Meates said communities get “grumpy and disengaged” when they don’t feel involved in a process and cities need to be “master-planned” by the council, not developers.

Halliday also asked how they would make suburbs more equitable.

Mauger said he would plant more trees, but Meates said the city was not going to plant its way out of a crisis, and it needed to make sure it was building the right type of housing across the city.

When it came to climate change, Halliday asked the pair how they would deal with coastal erosion.

Mauger said the city’s beaches were growing rather than subsiding, and the situation was nowhere near as bad as residents had been told.

While Meates said communities would be affected by climate change, he felt it was a broader city issue and the council needed to work with communities to plan for the future.

He said managed retreat and adapting to the changes would have to be looked at in combination.

Voting is now open and papers have been sent to homes. Voting closes at midday on October 8.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.