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The Press – Yardley column. March 2

Embracing the cycleway network.

A fortnight ago in this column, I entreated the city council to stop peddling lip-service and lofty 30 year strategies about cycleways. I challenged the council to grasp the nettle and elevate the citywide cycling network into the draft Three Year Plan. Well, blow me down, the mayor and councillors have delivered accordingly. For the ratepayer, the $20 dollar annual price-tag over three years, is small beer compared to the council’s wider spending appetite. But that has not stopped an instant torrent of bleating from blinkered anti-cycling narcissists who  have worked themselves into a lather. The most recited claim in the resulting backlash is that the cyclists should shoulder the full cost of developing these 13 cycleways. Just how would that be workable? What the naysayers appear to have ignored is the multitude of benefits that will come from this network. Not only will it spectacularly reassert the Garden City’s credentials as New Zealand’s cycling capital, but it will immeasurably benefit motorists by shifting so many cyclists off the road. The draft Three Year Plan will be open for public consultation in a fortnight, and there will be much to critique. But the cycleway network deserves the green light.

Too big a burden.

Our publicly-owned lines company, Orion Energy, has submitted its application to the Commerce Commission, seeking permission to drastically charge you more, to fund the repair of its infrastructure. Orion CEO , Rob Jamieson, tells me that if their application is rejected, there is no Plan B on the table. Orion’s proposal, to bludgeon you with a $1000 repair bill over ten years, is simply unconscionable. Predictably, the Christchurch City and Selwyn District Councils, who own the lines company on your behalf, have vigorously resisted any suggestion of allowing Orion to retain half of their dividends, to self-fund the infrastructure repairs, even though this is the most sensible and pragmatic solution. This is buck-passing nest-protection of the highest order. No wonder the Associate Earthquake Minister, Amy Adams, rightly ridiculed the situation recently – which maybe a clue to its ultimate fate.

City sights.

Have you checked out Quake City? The $10 adult entry charge has sparked a fair amount of harrumphing from locals, but the Canterbury Museum exhibition in the Restart Mall is a thoughtful, well-toned exposition of our natural disaster. Museum director, Anthony Wright informs me that they considered  a pricing differential for local residents, but settled on granting accompanied children free admission. Meanwhile, the hopelessly promoted free Summertimes event, Wind in the Willows, has its final performances this weekend in the Botanic Gardens.  I do not know how Mark Hadlow manages to contort his jaw so wondrously like a Toad, but this production is must-see magnificence.

( Yardley’s weekly local current affairs column, published in the Weekend Press, March 2.)7031646

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