Report back from the Forum
Was meant to get this up yesterday but, shall do so today.
On Tuesday evening at Strata Cafe (University of Auckland) was the Generation Zero UP Forum on the well – The Clunker (have not used that term in a while 😛 ). The event had 150 youths (mostly University students) with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor present (as well as Councillor Goudie and a member from a Local Board). The purpose of the event was to provide a friendly environment to talk well – Unitary Plan and for sure the 150 youths did. The main topics were:
- Land Use and Transport Integration
- Housing Affordability
- Housing Location
- Urban Design
- Trees and Parks
- The Rural Urban Boundary
Through the course of the event you moved around the tables to talk about the topics mentioned above that was taken down as written feedback by Generation Zero. After the table talk it was time for some food, a chat with the Deputy Mayor, then some questions and answer sessions to which even I rattled off a question. And err yes I did feel a little bit odd probably being the oldest in the room (27) apart from Len, Penny and the Council planners present but, I would discover something that did catch me off guard somewhat due to my age. More on that later.
And so away the discussions went in a friendly environment on all things Unitary Plan. This comment that popped up yesterday is indicative of the environment our younger generation faces in the normal public meetings out in the wider city on the Unitary Plan:
No way was I going to speak at the Herne Bay Residents’ Association meeting last week. There was a bunch of very grumpy and badly informed people who were being very rude and obnoxious to the Auckland Council planners and Waitemata Local Board members who took time out of their schedules to attend this meeting and try to educate people. I actually think their opinions are conflicting as well. One person was complaining about needing more “certainty” in the plan, while they were also complaining about how developments may not be notified. Once you notify, there is no certainty!
I also mentioned in my Myth Busting post yesterday above the young and old divide:
Myth 8: The Council is deliberately creating a divide between the young and old.
Fact: Auckland Council is involving all Aucklanders in the discussion about our city’s future and we are not singling out or favouring any particular section of our diverse community. We are getting feedback from all ages.
Umm no, the blue rinse brigade and some civic leaders have been doing that – and exceptionally well too. Those civic leaders and the blue rinse brigade should be shamed (no St Heliers is not that category before some asks as they have gone out of their way to work with youth (hey I am one) and get a resolution acceptable to their community and wider Auckland (again the SCZ work) for the divide caused. Council as a whole however has not created this divide (if it did yesterday would have been a torture exercise – to which it was the absolute opposite).
Divide between the young and old on the Unitary Plan?
Any perception of a divide between young and old can only arise from the council’s own presentation of the Auckland Plan
The Council’s whole PR strategy has promoted the interests of youth – the Deputy Mayor even used her grandchild at the Plan launch to stress this was a plan for 30 years and beyond. The Council’s Auckland Plan states” young people” is where it wants to make a transformational shift. – it’s the number priority. But few young people have been present at community meetings on any of Auckland’s plan.
Most of the 35-year olds, and upwards, attending community meetings on the Plan, have clearly rejected the extent of intensification in quiet suburban areas. While there have been accusations of Nimby-ism from a small vocal collection of youth commenters, there is no apparent groundswell of support for the Unitary Plan from young people.
This is where I drop the biggest myth busting and I shall use my comments again on this: “Umm no, the blue rinse brigade and some civic leaders have been doing that – and exceptionally well too. Those civic leaders and the blue rinse brigade should be shamed (no St Heliers is not that category before some asks as they have gone out of their way to work with youth (hey I am one) and get a resolution acceptable to their community and wider Auckland (again the SCZ work) for the divide caused. Council as a whole however has not created this divide (if it did yesterday would of been a torture exercise – to which it was the absolute opposite).”
More to the point is that I can bridge the divide and have done so with the UP. The Blue Rinse Brigade seem to be ignorant to that however, so I do wonder when NIMBYism does kick through and is stirred up to be made worse by those civic leaders (and Bernard Orsman of the NZ Herald who should know better). Also I was at the Generation Zero Unitary Plan Youth Form last night where there were 150 under 30′s there all talking UP. Beside the fact I ended up de-facto facilitating three different topics (Sudhvir I shall invoice you shortly buddy ) two schools of thought came out of the forum:
- The youth know as much as the over 35′s do with the Unitary Plan and my apologies is not a heck of a lot. It is through no fault of their own I make that extremely clear and no fault of Generation Zero either who have been working their backsides off getting the UP out there. As I said I ended up de-facto facilitating three topics (The RUB, The Centres and Housing Location, and integrated Land Use and Transport) to help the students along with understand the UP. While I was fine doing that I did find it also alarming
- A Council inquiry needs to be held the engagement and feedback process right across the spectrum. As I mentioned in Point 1, I was de-facto facilitating owing to my work and dedication to the UP thus far. I shouldn’t have been to be honest and all I wanted to do was listen and take notes so I could write it back up on my blog as part of my UP coverage. But I stepped up and did so with the result being lots of happy people – so I did my civic duty again. But that inquiry needs to be held on what went wrong and what can be done next time to improve it.
I do wonder if the Blue Rinse Brigade should hang its head in shame for putting the wider city off. Angry and abusive scenes (no not St Heliers…) against those who had a just a slightly different view to those of the Brigade would have been enough to put any person off from participation.
In saying that; through my own consultancy firm TotaRim, engagement on the Unitary Plan will continue post May 31 to everyone young and old, for or against the UP. Details on the flyer at the bottom of this post.
If Generation Zero can give me a collated feedback piece on the main points of Tuesday night I will post them here into this post as well as a separate post.
As for the discussions they were excellent and dispelled the myths the Blue Rinse Brigade purport on our youth into what they want with the Unitary Plan. Things like reliable and efficient public transport kept coming up on Tuesday night and it has been also heard from all ages right across the city. Quality urban design also came out of Tuesday and again has been heard from all age groups right around the city.
Employment Centres close to home came up from Tuesday night and is something I have been banging on about while the rest of the city has been slow on the concept at this point and time.
As for that cursed height issue there will be a difference here however, from what I was hearing with proper urban design and focus to the Town and Metropolitan Centres the height issue should not be scaring people off. Crap urban design will scare people off but height no. I did hear feedback from Tuesday night on a stronger focus of our centres (Local, Town and Metropolitan) so that communities feel like actual communities as well as some employment opportunities close to home. This focus with the centres has been picked up in the wider city meetings especially around identity but, I believe the city is in a muddle on what kind of focus with our centres should be taking.
Climatic change was mentioned, an issue I will leave alone owing to my Geography training and mentor in my uni days. Concerns around parks got mentioned on Tuesday and they are the same concerns the wider city has with parks and the public space zones.
As for Greenfield development and Manukau (I dropped them into the discussions) this is where the fun began.
The fun began owing to the unexpected situation I alluded to earlier in my post. Somehow I had become a de-facto facilitator on: The RUB, Land Use and Transport Integration, and Housing Location. The students that were there were discussing and asking questions that I was in a position to answer. Such as why I call for the 40% Greenfield development, cross-city transport – why it is not working now and might not in the UP, infrastructure concerns (road, rail and water), and Manukau as a city centre. At the end of the day I will step up when required and the students did thank me for my contributions. As I noted yesterday – Sudhvir I shall be sending an invoice soon 😉 . I was happy to also take the brunt of the questions being asked (a bugger I did not have my material with me to provide the back up material) and facilitate discussion on. I suppose a measure of the success of Tuesday night was business cards being exchanged. But it did also reveal that if you think the over 35’s have it tough getting around the Unitary Plan, so do the under 35’s – so we are all in the same boat in that regard.
Okay I am an enigma in keeping a very wide eye on the UP and running flat-tact commentary on it. But it has its uses as the last nine weeks have shown.
Again post May 31 I will still be running private workshops and sessions on the Unitary Plan and what is next. If you would like to talk about these workshops and sessions then contact me at totarim[dot]consultancy[at]totarim[dot]co[dot]nz
The flyer can be found HERE and we can do catering options as well for these workshops
A big thank you to Generation Zero for organising the Unitary Plan youth forum at the University of Auckland. I believe a lot of the attendees got something of value out of the night and hopefully it will translate into feedback back to Council. Also I got to meet a lot of the Generation Zero team and they got to meet me in return 😀 – keep up the good work guys – all of you.
As for my question; I asked the Deputy Mayor (I knew the answer already but it was to serve as a clarification on Greenfield areas as it did raise concerns) “Will the Greenfield RUB areas also focus on employment centres such as industry as well as houses?” The answer was “YES!”
So balanced development is being sort for with Greenfield development. That is good as it can cut down commuting and provide new job centres for our growing cities!
BEN ROSS : AUCKLAND
BR:AKL: Bring Well Managed Progress
The Unitary Plan: Bringing Change
Auckland: 2013 – OUR CITY, OUR CALL