Why the Proposal to Increase Weekend Parking Fees in Central Wellington is a Looney Idea from the Left.
And how this relates to the looney idea of removing up to 200 carparks (or more) from the golden mile, with no obvious solutions to businesses and the public.
I have deliberately introduced a controversial heading as it matters immensely to the survival of businesses in central Wellington and Wellingtonians.
There appears to be a great desire by Green and Labour orientated councillors to have ALL cars removed from central Wellington in an endeavour to reduce carbon emissions, without understanding the consequences or providing any alternative solutions (Dominion Post, 9 April, 2021). Later, I will cover how this connects to the article’s second part of removing parking from the golden mile and its side streets.
Businesses in the central Wellington business district (CBD) are already suffering an economic downturn of up to 14% since the outbreak of Covid-19, primarily due to lower foot traffic as many office workers remain at home. As Hamish Vance of clothing store Vance Vivian said, “The council should be encouraging people to come into the city to support local businesses…To raise the parking fee in today’s environment, I think is crazy.” (Stuff 5 March 2021).
In the same Stuff article, Wellington Mayor Andy Foster was quoted as saying, “I am concerned that we will undermine the attractiveness of visiting the central city in the weekend, and particularly doing that at a time when we know that our foot traffic has already been adversely impacted by Covid-19.”
The proposal is to increase the weekend parking fee from $2.50 to $4.50 per hour (as well as increasing daily coupon parking rates from $12 to $20 per day). Whilst this may seem insignificant for some, for many people it may be more than they can tolerate.
Personally, I believe this proposal implies that several councillors are not able to see past their own ideologies. Jill Day (Green), who put forward the proposal, stated that she “proposed the change to help reduce emissions and avoid cuts to the council’s book-buying budget.” (Stuff 5 March 2021). Firstly, this statement is ideologically driven, secondly, has no consideration for the business community and thirdly dovetails into the proposal to reduce carparking in central Wellington by up to 200 or more spaces.
Thus, Jill Day wants to reduce emissions in central Wellington and save some books! This is nonsense. Before I go on to address why and how short sighted this is, here is a list of those who voted for the change (and their party affiliations):
- Jenny Condie (Independent – but probably left leaning on most issues, given her biography)
- Jill Day (Green)
- Fleur Fitzsimons (Labour)
- Laurie Foon (Green)
- Rebecca Matthews (Labour)
- Teri O’Neil (Labour)
- Iona Pannet (Green)
- Tamatha Paul (Labour)
It was only Sarah Free (Green) who had common sense and voted against this absurd proposal.
Why is this proposal absurd?
Firstly, businesses are already struggling due to the disruption from Covid-19. This does not seem to matter to the left. Secondly, this change will have minimal impact in reducing carbon emissions in central Wellington (thus ideologically driven). Thirdly, it is quite condescending and insulting that this proposal is also linked to saving a few books over businesses (please note, I love books – see my personal library). Finally, to suggest this will raise $2m in revenue is in complete contradiction to the “Let’s Get Wellington Moving” proposal to remove parking from central Wellington, which I will cover later.
So, why would anyone in their right mind come into Wellington to shop when parking costs $4.50 an hour, when they can shop at Queensgate in Lower Hutt for free, or in Porirua for free? Those living in Miramar and Seaton can now also shop locally for free too. Why come into Wellington? you might ask.
Furthermore, why would I come to central Wellington to walk along the waterfront and have a beer afterwards and pay $4.50 to park for an hour, when I can go to the many wonderful bush walks nearby for free? or walk along the many beaches around Wellington for free, and still have a beer afterwards? Sadly, ideology is overriding common sense.
As David Byrne, the owner of Hurricane Denim, Fusion Surf Skate, and Miss Wong Clothier in central Wellington, said “penalising people from driving would lead them to shop elsewhere, not to use public transport as the council was hoping.” (Stuff 16 March 2021).
Why is this linked to the Let’s Get Wellington Moving Proposal?
Increasing weekend parking fees will not raise $2m a year, as Ms Day states. To the contrary, the opposite will happen. The Let’s Get Wellington Moving proposal states that up to 200 carparks could be removed from the golden mile, possibly more (Stuff 18 September 2020). The whole ideology is to remove cars completely from central Wellington, without fully considering the implications. (I will write more on that in my next blog). So why is it absurd that this move will increase revenue by $2m? This is explained with basic maths. If you remove 200 carparks, at $4 p/hour, 6 hours p/day, 7 days a week, over 52 weeks, that is a loss of $1.7m per annum. I am being generous here as this is likely to be an underestimate. The same calculation can be used to estimate the cost to businesses. Assuming people spend on average $20 per visit, per hour, that is $34.9m in lost business revenue per annum. The Let’s Get Wellington Moving proposal has not factored in any of this, or how they are going to get more people into Wellington.
Wellington needs a solution that helps more people come into the city, whether it is by car, bus or train. Presently, the focus is only on walking and biking. To some degree this may help the environment, but it will not sustain central Wellington. That is why these two matters are linked, looney, hypocritical, condescending and lacking any business sense.