With submissions now closed, Wellington CityCouncil’s strategy for the capital’s future,‘Toward 2040: Smart Green Wellington’ is nearly ready to roll.
Concepts were laid bare at a day-long symposium hosted by the Wellington branch of the New Zealand Institute of Architects in July, featuring leading design practitioners.
Wellington City Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the public consultation process was one of the broadest the council has undertaken in her time as an elected member.
The goal was to canvass long term visions on how the capital might look 10, 20, or 30 years into the future, with some emphasis on how the city can align its economy with the environment. “It’s not about trade-offs or compromises but seizing the opportunity for a smart, green and prosperous future,” Wade-Brown says.
Symposium organiser and urban designer Gerald Blunt applauds the vision, as recent events have highlighted the need for a long-term strategy for Wellington, but asks “Is the council’s thinking good enough? Christchurch will be a focus of central Government attention for years, and the Auckland super city will be a driving force in the national economy. In addition, Finance Minister Bill English has told Wellington to wean itself from a dependence on public sector jobs.
“These challenges are in addition to the issues all cities face in managing resources and meeting the aspirations of their citizens, and to some other issues particular to Wellington, such as seismic risk and passage through a confined urban area.
“We have to come up with our own solutions to the challenge of making our city a place where people want to live and work and make their home,” Blunt says.
With the release of the Wellington 2040 City Strategy it’s time to test the council’s vision, he adds.
“The council’s City Strategy will affect all of us, and will also help shape the city our children grow up in. It’s vital we find a smart way forward for Wellington.”
Public feedback on Wellington 2040 is now closed. Final approval, delivery and implementation is now scheduled to commence. Regarding the city weaning itself off public sector jobs, although admitting recent public service cuts have been a kick in the teeth to many, the Wellington Employers´ Chamber of Commerce is confident the local economy is resilient enough to absorb them.
Chamber CEO Ken Harris says the public service harbours a great pool of talent and is optimistic many will pick up jobs elsewhere in the city. “Wellington’s business sector is strong and growing — the number of private sector employees has increased 13 percent since 2000 and businesses are reporting a shortage of skilled labour.
“Wellington is well-placed to absorb public sector cuts as it diversifies its economic base, but to facilitate this we need to remove barriers to economic growth and increase investment in infrastructure.”
To look at the draft strategy, download a copy from www.wellington2040.co.nz
Four primary areas have been identified as key elements to realise the vision:
■ People-centred city
The aim is to be healthy, vibrant, affordable, resilient, have a strong sense of identity and strong and healthy communities.
■ Connected city
This is connectedness in every sense — physical, virtual, social. Strategies like the Digital Strategy fall under this.
This is a response to all the environmental challenges the city faces over the coming decades. The council is confident it can lead the country by example.
■ Dynamic central city
This section largely deals with urban design aspects of the central city, making sure it is still a great place to be, where new ideas happen, and maintaining its role as the creative and innovative force to drive the regional