Council staff highly criticised for “totally unacceptable” consultation on significant Shirley intersection change

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Feb 01, 2023 |

Transport and “engagement” staff at the Christchurch City Council have come under fire for their limited approach to consultation on new safety measures at a high use intersection in Shirley.

The plan includes a new median island, build-outs to the kerbs and raised safety platforms on the approaches to the intersection with Brigss, Marshland, and Lake Terrace Road.

It also includes painted cycle-lane on the Lake Terrace Road approach to the intersection.

A council staff member admitted they received only 4 submissions with feedback on the design changes.

But that’s because council told just 47 nearby residents on the plans.

However, the consultation was within the parameters of the Local Government Act.

City Councillor Kelly Barber questioned the consultation saying he spoke to a resident who lives 150 metres down the road and he didn’t know anything about it, nor did he favour the changes.

Council engagement manager Tessa Zant said “If we’re just going to hear from a lot of people that they have an opinion about a safety feature, then that can cause problems, but we do hear what you’re saying. And for this one, for example, we didn’t do social media, which might have captured more feedback.”

Councillor Aaron Kweon said “before I’m shut down, i’m just not sure we have a mandate to make changes like this in our network because we haven’t gone out and asked the public if they think all intersections should be like that.

Zant said it was intentional not to use Facebook to consult with the public.

She said it was a about limiting consultation by not casting the net city wide “and attracting feedback from people who have a certain view, but maybe have no real need to provide feedback.”

It’s about trying to limit that.

“I think that we’ve heard from the room that in terms of those people who commute to an intersection and might live very far away, even outside of our district, that that’s something that they would still like to hear.”

Zant said it was a low significance project, despite the $400,000 price tag.

She the said the engagement plan was not sent to the community board either.

Councillor Yani Johanson said “we have had overwhelmingly negative feedback and high dissatisfaction with how we do things as a council, and that’s judged by our recent survey trending and what has been a very frightening direction.

I can’t understand how a significant intersection with a significant visible change to it, would only get 47 households directly contacted and have such a low level of significance by council.”

Johanson said it was “totally unacceptable to have such a low level of engagement on on a significant project like this that will impact on a number of people in the local community who have not been contacted by us.”

He said “there needs to be a much more holistic approach to traffic and safety in this area with cyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles, because there’s a new big development going on right adjacent to this.”

“We definitely need to start reviewing how we do things as a council, that this is what we think is acceptable in terms of engagement” he said.

Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger said he was happy with that redesign of the whole the intersection, except for the proposal to raise the intersection.

“As we did on Lincoln Road, it attracted a lot of negative press for us.

And I know you’ve done the consultation the way it’s supposed to be done and maybe we’ve got to look at the way we do that.

I don’t know. But the thing that worries me is we talk about it being a high use intersection and before you know it, we’ll have every intersection in town being called high use, and we’ll be spending maybe $400,000 on separate intersections.”

Despite the debate, council approved the plans.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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