There’s been quite a bit of coverage of the Auckland unitary plan – and the way that certain elements of the media are covering it. Russell Brown at Public Address has done some great tear-downs of the nasty anti-plan campaign, both on twitter and in this blog. He has also got a guest blog on the site from Sudhvir Singh, which I enjoyed reading this morning. I think it’s great that a group like Generation Zero have waded into the debate, with opinions and passion. I haven’t read the Metro special on the plan, but I did read the article that went up online here. Someone could be writing a similar Dream for St Martins, with the same sort of vision.

It was also with some regret that I read this debate. While I think it’s terrible that the country’s so-called newspaper of record will wade in so one-sidedly against the plan, at least you get to have a debate on the plan. I was going to say I’m sorry for always bringing this back to Christchurch, but actually, I’m not sorry. What I wouldn’t give for a debate – however biased on one-sided it might be – about the future of our city.

Some of the arguments that Singh made – about density, about how to create neighbourhoods that young people want to live in, about reducing our reliance on cars – were ones that we should be having in Christchurch. Well, some are having those arguments. But we have no plan to feed into, no say in how our city will be shaped. A few things were handpicked from the more than 100,000 ideas that were submitted via Share an Idea. We can submit to the council about stadia, convention centres, cycle ways, ideas about housing and zoning – and the Minister can throw them in the bin to replace them with whatever evidence-free proposals he likes. The city council has effectively been neutered, and they know it. Candidates can run for October’s election, standing for whatever they like, knowing they have an almost zero chance of being able to implement any of it.

No matter, we can take the matter to our regional council, right? Oh, the one that had their councillors removed in 2010, that we won’t be able to vote for until 2016? Cos actually being able to have a regional council that represented our views on water management, as well as land zoning in the market gardens and farms around Christchurch that are being ripped up as fast as the bulldozers can go to put in endless subdivisions would be quite useful at this point. 

I’m sure you know all this. Well, I hope you do. I’m not knocking the people campaigning for and against the plan. I’m encouraging you. I’m envious, really. You get to have all the heated, spurious, fact-based, hate-filled arguments that shape cities. We don’t. While it might be hard, even infuriating at times, at least you get to have it. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. While we may never have been paradise, that didn’t stop them covering the place with parking lots.

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