Column: Starting soon construction on our first walking and cycling highway along Cox’s Bay Creek

April 1, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog

Rob Thomas HeadshotPonsonby News – April 2013 edition – By Rob Thomas – Candidate for Waitemata & Gulf Councillor:

Last month, I was walking the wobbly boardwalk that meanders by the Cox’s Bay Creek with a local journalist. We were discussing the dilapidated state of the path and its imminent replacement to form a more suitable walking and cycling track. The journalist unexpectedly tripped on a loose plank and took a potentially hazardous tumble. Thankfully unharmed, however, this brought home the hazards presented by our aging city infrastructure.  I immediately posted a picture of myself holding the offending boardwalk plank on the council’s @aklcouncil Twitter page, and recounted the incident to our Parks advisor. As a result, the boardwalk was shut down until further assessment could be completed. When this was received, we learned that whilst the boardwalk was structurally sound, 20 planks would need to be replaced in the interim, before work began later in the month on a replacement structure.

The Cox’s Bay Creek Boardwalk is a vital conduit connecting Cox’s Bay to Grey Lynn. Each week hundreds if not thousands of locals in the Greater Ponsonby Area use the walkway. If you’ve been along the path yourself, you’ll know that it’s a picturesque route that winds and undulates its way along the creek, through mangroves and sheltered by a variety of trees packed with birdlife.  It’s enjoyed by runners, dog walkers, school children, mums with pushchairs, wheelchairs, tricycles and bicycles – all trying to squeeze their way along its 1.2 meter width. As a member of the Waitemata Local Board, I share the Parks portfolio with fellow board member Jesse Chambers.  At a monthly Parks meeting, renewal of the Cox’s Bay Creek boardwalk was being discussed. I quite literally halted the meeting and walked out of the room to place an immediate hold on the pending resource consent that would clear the way for the existing boardwalk to be replaced with an exact replica.

Given the issues of the past, this would not be a suitable long-term move to protect and enhance this stunning city asset. As a consequence, the Waitemata Local Board has reallocated funding to widen the proposed replacement boardwalk to 2.5 metres. Meantime the existing structure has been closed. I commend the Council’s Parks team for acting so swiftly, and for delivering the first section of a potential walking and cycling greenway that could continue through the heart of Grey Lynn. Construction of the new Cox’s Bay Creek boardwalk will begin after the Easter weekend. Total cost of the project will be $358,254, broken down into $269,426 to cover the initial renewal project and a further $88,828 in additional funding. Construction will take 12 weeks to complete – and then we will have a walkway that we can all be proud of.  I’d like to thank the Cox’s Bay Park Advisory Panel for their support on this initiative as well as local residents Andrew, Grant and Russell for their constructive feedback. And of course, many thanks to the local journalist whose unscheduled trip proved to be such a catalyst. I hope the next visit is smoother!

Building a Healthier Auckland

Our city is growing fast with an estimated 85 more people added to our community every day. For some Aucklanders, the recently revealed Draft Unitary Plan is as exciting as a slap in the face with a wet fish. But if you can summon the patience to dig through the layers of rules and regulations to view the big picture, you’ll see how this plan will shape the world in which we live. It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of both our current and future built environment. How the plan for Auckland is engineered – right down to matters such as the Cox’s Bay Boardwalk – has major ramifications on how our future social and physical environment promotes good health and economic prosperity.

Something else that will impact on our society is the current epidemic of obesity. I read somewhere that New Zealanders are now the third fattest nation on earth after the US and Mexico. As a consequence, more Kiwis die of heart attacks as a percentage of population that any other country in the world. The Heart Foundation puts this down to unhealthy living, a growing incidence of obesity and diabetes.

This relates to what I said earlier in that part of building a healthier, safer environment is reducing our national healthcare bill. If government spending on healthcare continues to grow at its current rate, it will represent 40% of all government expenditure by 2026. This is simply not sustainable from either an economic or quality of life perspective. So the major opportunity that I see in the Auckland Plan and the Draft Unitary Plan is to create connections between our built environment and the impact this has on creating better health for Aucklanders.


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