Dunedin council ridiculed over ‘politically correct’ order to rename bike tracks

Another embarrassment for Dunedin City Council after a ridiculous ban on the name of some mountain bike tracks received attention through last week and was slammed in an ODT editorial yesterday.

3 June: Mountain bike group ordered to rename tracks

Mountain Biking Otago has been ordered to rename three of its tracks after the Dunedin City Council deemed them inappropriate.

The Mrs, The Mistress and Ginger Cougar on Signal Hill in Dunedin will be replaced with more appropriate names approved by the council.

Council parks and recreation group manager Robert West said it had received two complaints about the names of three Signal Hill mountain biking tracks.

Staff agreed the names were inappropriate and raised the matter with Mountain Biking Otago, he said.

Mountain Biking Otago president Kristy Booth said she was ‘‘disappointed for all involved’’.

The tracks had these names for seven to 10 years, and ‘‘in this time there has been no negative comments bought to our attention’’.

‘‘We don’t find them inappropriate within the context of how their names came to be.’’

Volunteers would need to spend a significant amount of time club funds correcting one person’s complaint, she said.

The cost of the changes was ‘‘a considerable amount, as it’s not just three signs at the beginning of each of these tracks, but other signage that contain their names elsewhere.’’

Mrs Booth said the committee were meeting tomorrow to confirm new names and proceed with new signage.

But DCC doesn’t work that fast, or easily. They haven’t yet approved new names.

And it doesn’t just involve the renaming of three track signs. There is a network of tracks on Signal Hill, with maps showing all tracks and track signs that refer to connections to other tracks.

And there is the website for the mountain biking area, plus a number of other online references.

4 June: ‘Inappropriate’ track names to go

This says much the same thing.

6 June: Mountain Biking Otago sign ‘rehomed’ to Tokoroa

The “Ginger Cougar” has found a new home.

The Mountain Biking Otago track sign was one of three “inappropriate” signs the Dunedin City Council asked to be taken down earlier this week after two complaints from the public – alongside The Mrs and The Mistress.

The Tokoroa Mountain Biking Club offered to rehome the sign, a move welcomed by Mountain Biking Otago president Kristy Booth.

Mountain Biking New Zealand president Chris Arbuckle said the sign, which was put up while he was president of Mountain Biking Otago in 2011, did not have an inappropriate meaning.

“The name ginger cougar came about because the rocks on that track were orange in colour, and cougar refers to a cat, because the trail is hard to chase.

“The track names went through a formal process before council and were signed off. They’ve seen these names before.”

Mr Arbuckle said naming signs was often the only “reward” volunteers had for hundreds of hours of work.

Dunedin City Council parks and recreation group manager Robert West said the council had a responsibility to act on public concerns.

And a responsibility to not act on trivial concerns of a couple of people.

“Signal Hill is public land designated as a recreation reserve, managed by the council for the benefit of the community.

That is for the benefit of the mountain biking community.

“We believe the names were inappropriate for tracks on public land and so asked Mountain Biking Otago to rename the track.”

“Council staff have not identified any other inappropriate track names on Signal Hill … no other name changes are being considered.”

So they seem to have checked all the track names

He said work on discussing new names for the three affected tracks was “progressing well”.

Editorial 8 June: Off track

There must be more important things for the Dunedin City Council to worry about than “inappropriate” names for mountain bike tracks.

Has this year truly gone dotty? Putting aside the small matter of a global pandemic, is the only story to capture the public imagination as much as those brightly coloured dots in George St to be the demise of The Mrs, The Mistress and Ginger Cougar?

For, yes, those are the offending names on Signal Hill that Mountain Biking Otago has been ordered by the council to relabel following an absolute tidal wave of public backlash … well, following two complaints in a decade.

“Political correctness gone mad” is a lazy phrase generally uttered by those struggling to cope with a wider push for a more tolerant society. But does anything else so perfectly encapsulate this example of bureaucratic pettiness?

We do not highlight those who made the original complaints — for there will always be complaints, no matter the topic. This one is squarely about a city council and its ability to make something out of nothing.

As Mountain Biking New Zealand president Chris Arbuckle pointed out, the sign, which was put up while he was president of Mountain Biking Otago in 2011, did not have an inappropriate meaning — it was genuinely named after the colour of rocks and the difficulty of the trail — and had been signed off by the council at the time.

It raises some questions around council processes. And while the DCC does indeed have a “responsibility to act on public concerns”, it also has the freedom to decide what is completely trivial.

Alas this council seems to be losing the respect of Dunedin citizens.

And this isn’t helped by difficulties in approving new track names. Mountain Biking Otago said yesterday:

We appreciate everyones support over the track signs, it might be a case of PC gone wrong but it’s time to move forward.

We had been working with the DCC to get new names approved but are at a bit of a stand still. Initially it was no gender names but with a recent list of potential names but there seems to be no consistency and anything that could have a double meaning is being rejected without explanation.

“It would be lovely to find names for The Mrs and The Mistress that continue to link the two tracks to their original story and pay tribute to the track builder and his wife (and we have a few). I’m not sure if we can do that but we will continue to keep trying to find common ground with the DCC, but until the tracks will remain nameless.”

So the council is still being pedantic despite all the fuss over an overreaction to two complaints.


This story seems to have become a lighting rod for the frustration a lot of Dunedin feel with the council at the moment.

It’s unfortunate that MBO, who have been minding their own business and just doing their thing, have got caught inbetween an angry public and the DCC.


What a f joke. DCC should be embarrassed, absolutely ridiculous.


MBO has done nothing wrong AFAIK. Definitely PC gone wrong and an over the top reaction with hyped up media. I’ve spoken to many non-MTBers who fail to see the problem but we’ll move on.


This is some staff plonkers, not the councilors, who I expect are embarrassed.


maybe mtb otago should put blue dots on the tracks, reckon it’ll fix it?

Some websites seem to have had the names removed already, like Mountain Biking in Dunedin

But one problem with just renaming the bike tracks is that the old names live on.

Otago Boys High School (2018): Mountain Biking Update

From the top of Signal Hill this week the boys did shuttle runs to enjoy riding the downhill tracks, namely the Jump Track and Ginger Cougar.





Climate emergency declarations not matched by council actions

There has been a recent fad for councils around the country to declare climate emergencies, but these declarations are at risk of being seen as ‘me too’ posturing without any significant change – in fact there are indications that some councils are walking a different walk, and expect others to actually do something about climate change and it’s effects.

Stuff:  Councils declare climate emergencies, but will it result in any real change?

Councils around the the country are declaring climate change emergencies, but questions are being raised over whether the move will create any tangible change.

Scientists and activists believe the declarations will be meaningless unless they’re backed up by solid action, offsetting criticism the measures were purely tokenistic.

Hutt City Council became the latest in an ever-growing list of local government agencies in declaring a climate crisis on Thursday, joining Wellington City, Hawke’s Bay, Kāpiti and Porirua councils.

Wellington city councillors opposed to the emergency declaration claimed the measure was “preachy” “nonsense” and an example of “green-washing”.

While Victoria University Wellington climate scientist James Renwick believed the move “put a stake in the ground” and underscored the seriousness of the issue – he said definitive action was needed.

Local Government NZ president Dave Cull said councils were at the “front line” of combating climate change, but there was “no national framework” for how local bodies should tackle the issue.

Really? beyond the talk and the declarations, is much actually being done?

Some things are being tried, but they could be counter productive. Cull is mayor of Dunedin, where there has been a program of installing cycle lanes around the flat parts of the city, but there are scant numbers of cyclists to be seen on most of these, and traffic congestion has worsened – which increases use of fossil fuels.

“Declaring a climate emergency acts as a catalyst for urgent action. It’s a way for councils to increase focus on this issue, and call for greater national support on climate change adaptation.”

Cull’s own council has just declared an emergency: DCC votes to declare climate emergency

At a full council meeting which began at 1pm, councillors voted 9-5 to declare the emergency and accelerate efforts to become a carbon neutral city.

The council had aimed to reach a net zero carbon target by 2050, but would bring that forward to 2030, councillors decided.

Most councillors spoke strongly in support of declaring the emergency, while only Crs Lee Vandervis, Mike Lord and Andrew Whiley argued against it.

Cr Aaron Hawkins said the council had been hearing from “countless” people and organisations for years, calling for action.

Progress had been too slow “and meanwhile the clock is ticking”.

“This needs to be at the front and center of all of our decision-making. A business-as-usual approach is not just inadequate, it’s effectively intergenerational theft.”

Mayor Dave Cull also backed the move, saying the city needed to keep pace with the changing scientific consensus to avoid “a point of no return”.

“The cost to council is not whether we do. The cost to council will be if we don’t do anything.”

That sounds like standard Green rhetoric.

The debate prior to the vote was stacked with pro-emergency spokespeople.

There were applause and cheers as Jennifer Shulzitski, of Extinction Rebellion, urged councillors to act now.

But the applause grew louder still as four young pupils from North East Valley school boiled the issue down to blunt terms.

But this declaration clashes with Dunedin City Council flying high with third highest travel expenditure in country

The Dunedin City Council has racked up the third highest spend on travel expenditure among all New Zealand councils.

It spent $347,885 on air travel in 2017-18 – $214,067 on domestic travel and $133,818 on international.

That puts Dunedin third behind much the much larger councils of Auckland (which spent $1,221,571) and Wellington ($591,310).

A council spokesman told Stuff there were several reasons contributing to the air travel expenditure, including the council’s size and geographical location.

“Many important meetings, conferences, training courses are held in Auckland or Wellington, and are therefore not easily accessible by other modes of transport.”

The spokesman said while the council did not currently offset travel emissions, “we do have a range of strategies and initiatives in place aimed at reducing carbon emissions across the city”.

The council’s declaration of a climate emergency and bringing forward its goal to be a net carbon zero city by 2030 would also “make us look even harder at where we can reduce our travel costs and/or offset travel emissions”.

Something more substantial than ‘looking ‘even harder’ is required to match their climate emergency rhetoric.

Also last week QLDC declares climate emergency

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has voted to declare a climate emergency after a presentation by Extinction Rebellion Queenstown Lakes.

Good on Extinction Rebellion for getting into the act here as they did in Dunedin, but again this is one-sided public consultation.

Members of the public were packed into the council meeting this afternoon where the motion was passed 7-4 as part of the council’s consideration of its Draft Climate Action Plan.

Extinction Rebellion said in a statement last week it was “asking the council to use its role as a community leader to clearly communicate the reality of what we are facing and what needs to happen to our local community.”

Queenstown growth relies on tourism which relies to a major extent on air travel, so QLDC is not likely to make major moves against the use of fossil fuels.

The QLDC also narrowly voted 6-5 to receive Queenstown Airport Corporation’s controversial Statement of Intent (SOI), while inserting a clause requiring ongoing discussions over possible expansion.

So QLDC has voted in support of a possible airport extension whole voting for action on climate change.

It is election year for mayors and councillors, so a ramp up in climate rhetoric is to be expected.

Significant action is less likely, and talk of the costs of actions is likely to be avoided at all costs. Rate rises is a contentious enough issue as it is.

Someone else talking the talk was Robert Guyton in this podcast – Maureen Howard’s Eco Living in Action – 27-06-2019 – Declare a State of Climate Emergency – Robert Guyton, Councillor, Environment Southland

Robert is one who does more than talk the talk.

City Council surge of secret meetings

The Dunedin City Council is having a lot of ‘workshops’, or meetings with the public not only excluded but also not advised about. They avoid public notification saying no decisions are made at the ‘workshops’ so they are not classified as meetings, but decisions councillors make must be informed by these secret meetings.

And this move towards secrecy is a common council problem around the country.

ODT:  What goes on behind closed doors? More DCC ‘workshops’

Dunedin’s elected officials are increasingly discussing major issues behind closed doors.

Since October 2016 the Dunedin City Council has held 48 workshops, none of which have been publicly advertised.

Figures released under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act show they are also being held more often.

In the year to July 31 this year the council held 31 more workshops  than in the previous two years combined.

Subjects covered included the council’s $860 million 10-year plan, the $15.8 million Mosgiel pool project, the central city plan and freedom camping.

Under the Local Government Act, councils need to publicise all official meetings and make agendas publicly available.

But as no decisions are made during the informal workshops, they are not classified as meetings.

Other local councils publicise  workshops and some  open them to the public, but many do  not.

Mayor Dave Cull has campaigned on transparency and public engagement, but seems to be doing the opposite. This looks like deliberate avoidance of open democracy.

Cull is also president of Local Government New Zealand.

A leading local government academic says the informal meetings, also known as workshops, exacerbate the disconnect between councils and the public.

Massey University senior lecturer Dr Andy Asquith said secrecy was bad for local democracy and when someone stood for public office they should expect to be scrutinised.

When the public and media were excluded, people had no way of knowing what their council was doing, he said.

“The fundamental problem with local government is people don’t know what councils do, or what councillors do or who they are and they turn off,” Dr Asquith  said.

The use of workshops was widespread across councils and there would only be a change if the Government decided to make  changes to the Local Government Act, something it had been hesitant to do, he said.

So this isn’t just a Dunedin problem.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said councillors were presented with such a large amount of complex information, it would be impractical to try to absorb all of it during one council meeting.

There was no risk public debate would be stifled because of the increasing use of workshops, he said.

That’s a remarkable claim.

If the public doesn’t know what councillors are discussing and being told then public debate must be at risk – the public can’t debate what has been kept secret from them.

Cr Lee Vandervis said while some workshops were valuable, others were a “muzzling exercise” and he had stopped attending many.

“Some of them are good but many are being used to stifle debate and a lot of decisions are precariously close to being made or certainly coming to consensus, as Mayor Cull likes to say.”

He has often clashed with Cull, being a rare Dunedin councillor prepared to publicly challenge the mayor and council.

Media commentator and University of Auckland academic Gavin Ellis said the effect of workshops was to reduce the level of public debate of issues which were of public interest, whether it was intended or not.

There were already sufficient provisions in the Local Government Act safeguards which protected sensitive information discussed by councillors, so there was no need for the increasing use of the meetings.

Mr Ellis said the Dunedin City Council was not the worst offender, but the increase should worry anybody who cared about accountability and open government.

Unfortunately it isn’t unusual for politicians to do the opposite of what they say they will do on transparency, but that doesn’t excuse a surge in secrecy.

The default position should be that meetings or workshops be notified and to held in public.

This surge in secrecy sucks.

Living wage not new

A ‘living wage’ is not a recent political ideal. 100 years ago the Dunedin City Council was trying to provide a living wage for married men

ODT 100 years ago:  Sorting jobs for discharged soldiers

Living wage approved

In accordance with notice of motion at the Dunedin City Council meeting, Cr Bradley moved –

(a) That all the corporation employees’ pay be raised to a living wage, and that no married man shall receive less than 3 pounds for a week’s work consisting of six days;

(b) that all married men receiving 3 pounds 5 shillings per week and under shall receive a war bonus of 5 per cent on his wages for each child under 14 years;

(c) that no employee, either male or female, over 18 years shall receive less than 20 shillings per week.”

3 pounds converted to $6 in 1967, and 5 shillings concerted to 50 cents.

Cr Bradley was granted leave to add the words to the beginning of the motion “that it be a recommendation to the Finance Committee”. In speaking briefly to the question, he said the motion spoke for itself. He thought the time had now arrived when some steps should be taken to place married men on a better footing as regards pay. He thought every councillor recognised the necessity of an increase being granted in the direction he had indicated, and that every councillor was prepared to see a living wage paid to the council’s employees.

Child labour was common to, even for town boys (it’s probably still normal for farm kids to do some work at home):

Boys for farm work

Although the school holidays are yet at least a month distant, it seems that, owing to the desire to utilise the services of lads during the shearing season, a number of boys will probably be leaving school next week for work in the country, and week by week more will follow.

The Director of the Technical School has a number of boys going to stations at Gladbrook, Omarama, Matakanui, and farms in different parts of Otago. This is in accord with a decision of the board, which does not intend to prolong the holidays.

– ODT, 15.11.1917.


Pro versus anti business

Today’s ODT editorial highlights Contrasting councils – one pro business, the other with a growing anti-business reputation.

A significant amount of government money is being invested in creating the Centre for Space Science Technology which will be based in Alexandra.

In total, the Government is spending up to $14.7 million over four years for the new institution with additional funding from industry. It will operate as a private, independently governed organisation.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says the centre will undertake research to explore the use of space-based measurements and satellite imagery unique to New Zealand to meet the specific needs of regional industries.

It will establish an international satellite data exchange and collaborate with leading researchers and businesses, both in New Zealand and abroad, to design, build and launch New Zealand’s first fleet of cube satellites.

In its proposal to establish a regional research institute, the Centre for Space Science Technology presented a strong business case to support the development and growth of New Zealand’s space economy by filling critical gaps in the collection and processing of New Zealand’s satellite data.

Not surprisingly, Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan called the announcement a game changer. The deal is expected to boost Alexandra’s economy by an estimated $2.8 millon to $3.6 million in the first three years and was up there, next to the gold rush.

Half of the 70 to 80 jobs to be created will be in Alexandra. The Central Otago District Council provided seed money of $20,000 for the project, something which will be repaid time and time again from the establishment of the centre.

Good on the Central Otago District Council for actively seeking and getting something of benefit to the region.

In contrast…

…the attitude of the nine members of the Dunedin City Council who quickly showed their so-called green credentials on the same day of the Alexandra announcement.

Those nine councillors voted to call on the Government to place a moratorium on deep-sea oil and gas exploration and extraction. Only four members of the council understood the implications of the vote.

The council is again proving itself to be not business friendly. Sadly, those 11 members do not understand the landscape on exploration has changed.

Putting up the not welcome sign enhances Dunedin’s reputation of a difficult place to do business. Any benefits through jobs or providing supplies to a drilling rig offshore will go to another city or town.

Dunedin has had a reputation as a difficult place to start new business for some time. The council seems to have become dominated by utopian activism. Without the University Dunedin would be going backwards rapidly – which seems to be what a vocal minority want.

They fail to understand that a ‘sustainable’ city needs to sustain a healthy business environment.

Resource consent madness for sports clubrooms

Dunedin City Council is going through a lengthy hearing process as part of implementing it’s ‘second generation’ district plan.

There’s a number of contentious issues. One in particular affects me, as the Council wants to severely limit what sort of building I can erect on some of my land simply because it is over 1o00 meters altitude and some people don’t want to see buildings on hills.

Another issue was highlighted this week. Sports clubs are complaining that the new plan would require them to hire out their facilities.

The council has said this is because functions in clubrooms can affect neighbouring property owners.

Does this mean if someone wants to have a fiftieth birthday function an elderly neighbour could oppose resource consent because rock music might be played? Ok, that’s probably a silly example, but it seems to be a very silly new limitation on people doing what they want with their property.

The ODT reported: Rugby clubs fear for viability

Dunedin rugby clubs fear changes mooted in the city’s next-generation plan could put their and other sports clubs’ financial futures in doubt.

Representatives from Kaikorai and Dunedin rugby clubs yesterday told the six-member 2GP district plan hearings panel they were worried the plan would limit their ability to hire out their facilities for events, which was an important source of income for some sports clubs.

The changes were proposed as part of the introduction of recreational zoning in the Dunedin City Council’s 2GP.

The changes could require sports clubs to apply for resource consent when they hire out their facilities for events not related to sport.

So a sports function doesn’t need consent but a children’s Christmas party would?

In response to the clubs’ concerns, council policy planner Jacinda Baker suggested in a report tabled at the hearing that hiring out sports and recreation facilities for conference, meetings and functions could be relaxed from a non-complying to discretionary activity.

Ms Baker argued against making such events a permitted activity.

“While I recognise that clubs do hire out their clubrooms for these types of activities, I consider that these are only appropriate where they are a minor component of the club’s activities and, if occurring at a commercial scale or frequency, I consider that they are more appropriate to be located within the commercial and mixed-use zones.”

Allowing clubs to hire their facilities had the potential to affect neighbours.

We can’t have neighbours affected, can we. That would be a diabolical development in a city.

She said her position was supported by the 39 noise complaints received by the council between 2000 and 2015 relating to five rugby and football clubs having late-night functions.

That’s about two and a half complaints per year, and it doesn’t say whether it involved multiple complaints about one function.

And it doesn’t say if those were non-sports related events when the complaints were made, so it’s not clear if there is any problem with hiring out facilities for non-sports uses.

I have some local knowledge here, back in the day I played rugby for Kaikorai and attended many sports events at their facilities. I was involved in running some of them.

The last event I attended there was the club’s centenary a few years ago. I presume they needed resource consent to put up the marquee.

If council clampdowns ruin the viability of sports clubs that are already struggling for members, players and funds then there may be no more anniversaries.

This looks like local body bureaucracy gone mad. Nanny city stupidity, where everyone is able to dictate what other citizens can’t do.


Dunedin City flooding report

The report on flooding in South Dunedin is included in an Infrastructure Services Committee report:


  1. This report follows the November 2015 report titled “Infrastructure performance during June 2015 Flood event” that focused on the water, wastewater and stormwater networks. Its purpose is to outline the known management challenges with the South Dunedin catchment, the performance of the stormwater infrastructure in South Dunedin during the June 2015 event and discuss the role of mud tanks within that.
  2. Changes in the South Dunedin catchment since the stormwater network was designed combined with operational challenges and ground water levels all contributed to the effects of the extreme rainfall event that occurred in June 2015.
  3. Staff have previously reported the contribution of the pipes and Portobello Road pump station operation to the volume of water on the surface at the peak of the flood. This modelling cannot take into account other influences such as cross catchment flows, the displacement of water by obstacles in secondary flow paths or vehicles, or the increase in hard surfaces across the catchment.
  4. Staff are therefore unable to determine the contribution to the event arising from mud tanks but have mapped mud tank conditions against known flood levels and compared this with predicted stormwater network flooding resulting from a significant rainfall event.
  5. The mapping shows correlation between known and predicted flooding. Flooding below road level would have required ground water levels to drop for it to be absorbed or to be pumped to the road where it could make its way to the system.
  6. In investigating mud tank performance, issues have been identified with the overall road maintenance regime. A number of steps, including a full review and re-tendering the road maintenance contracts, and full cleans and asset data capture of the mud tanks in South Dunedin have been taken to address these.
  7. In 2010, Council published its 3 Waters Strategy (the Strategy), which identified that stormwater flooding was a risk in some areas of the city and likely to get worse or more frequent with predicted weather pattern changes. The strategy also noted that unless appropriately managed, demographic changes and ageing infrastructure would exacerbate the situation.
  8. The strategy outlines the key technical issues, challenges and community priorities for the effective and sustainable management of Dunedin’s water infrastructure. One of the main priorities is to ensure that key service levels are maintained into the future, based on the premise that there will be no increase in the number of residential or commercial properties at risk of sewer flooding. This means that the existing levels of service across the city will be maintained.

More: http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/542784/IS_20160426_AGN_294_AT.pdf

Reduced income after ‘ethical investment’ decision

Ethical investment decisions made by the Dunedin City Council last year have led to substantially reduced returns from investment funds.

ODT reports: City pays cost for divesting

Some of the Dunedin City Council’s divestment decisions have cost the city, it was revealed at yesterday’s council finance committee meeting.

Group chief financial officer Grant McKenzie said the Waipori Fund had realised some losses as a result of the council’s decision to divest from some sectors, but the total amount was not clear.

The council voted last May to scrap any investments the fund had in the munitions, tobacco, fossil fuel extraction, gambling or pornography industries and to bar future investment in those industries.

While they are now forbidden areas of investment I haven’t seen any claims that there were any investments in munitions, tobacco or pornography.

Is oil, coal and mineral extraction really on the same ethical level as them? To the Greens perhaps. Or they wanted to make ‘ethical investment’ sound better when their target was primarily mining and drilling.

The ethical investment policy gave the fund two years to exit those industries, but Mr McKenzie confirmed yesterday the last of its positions – BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto – were sold earlier this year.

But there were investments in mining, something Greens want to stop – and there’s a definite Green lean to the Dunedin City Council.

‘‘We are now in a position that we have completely divested in those shares,” he said.

The fund had produced $783,000 in profit during the eight months to February 29. However, this was $1.657 million down on the budgeted $2.44 million profit.

Some of the unfavourable variance was because of divestment losses, Mr McKenzie said.

  • Budgeted $2.44 million profit
  • Actual $783,000 profit

That’s a significant reduction to under a third of budgeted returns.

Green anti-mining and anti-drilling policies appear have come at a significant cost to Dunedin ratepayers.

And we still need oil and mineral products.

And we don’t seem to have made millions from clean green alternatives.

Tree madness in Mosgiel

A Dunedin City Council planner has recommended that resource consent be declined to fell an oak tree in Mosgiel.

This is an example of bureaucracy gone mad. Trees grow. Trees fall. Trees are cut down.

Why should trees on out own properties not be our own to do what we like with?

ODT: Developer to fight to allow felling of tree

Council planner Lianne Darby has recommended the hearings committee decline CC Otago Ltd’s resource consent application to fell the tree in King St, Mosgiel.

The tree, which is about 25m high, made a significant contribution to the amenity of the area, was healthy and the effects of its removal could not be mitigated, Ms Darby said in her report to the committee.

However, CC Otago Ltd director Craig Horne contends the tree’s canopy shades the existing dwelling and affects the comfort of its occupants, outweighing its amenity value.

‘Amenity value’ is a term used to try and justify councils dictating what it’s citizens can do with their own property.

When I moved in to my current property I cut down two large trees which shaded a neighbour’s house for much of the winter. The trees were close buildings and a high risk. I just cut them down.

I’ve probably cut down a hundred trees on my property. There were far too many, planted too close together.

I cut down an oak tree on my street boundary. It was planted to close to another oak so I pruned it to ground level. The other oak is doing much better now. I also planted another oak in another part of the property, in a much better location. It’s doing very well.

I’ve planted more trees than I have cut down. Better trees, in  better places, and the trees I haven’t cut down are doing better.

The Dunedin City Council is currently going through the process of implementing a new District Plan. This wants to forbid me from planting specified types of trees. It wants to forbid me from building, and it wants to forbid me from painting buildings a whole range of colours.

They want to severely restrict anything done above a 100 metre altitude. A lot of Dunedin is higher than 100 metres (my property happens to straddle the 100 metre contour). Because some people don’t want other people to do things with their own property. They don’t want to look across a harbour and see a house on a hill. And they want to force you to keep some trees and not plant others.

Why should the council dictate to me what I can do with my own property and my own things on that property?

One of the most important amenities a city has is it’s citizens. Or they should be.

DCC votes to be Green climate lobbyists

The infiltration of Green national politics into local body government took a worrying turn yesterday. Dunedin City Council has voted in four climate change resolutions:

• Urge the Government to adopt a tougher carbon emissions target.

• Support the Government in that goal by reducing Dunedin’s carbon emissions.

• Join the international ”Compact of Mayors” agreement to measure and reduce emissions across Dunedin.

• Ask the Government to place a moratorium on deep sea oil and gas exploration.

It looks like there is a big dollop of Green Party national politics in those resolutions, with the Dunedin City Council voting to allow themselves to be Government lobbiests on issues of national and international interest.

The resolutions were brought before the council by Crs Jinty MacTavish and Aaron Hawkins.

I don’t think McTavish is officially in the Green Party but is closely aligned with more extreme Green policies, and has been influential in promoting Green policies and practices at a local body level.

Hawkins stood as a Green Party candidate in 2013 local body elections when he became a councillor.

The ODT reports in Council says yes to climate change resolutions that there was some opposition:

Cr Andrew Noone said Dunedin would be better off ”walking the talk” than telling the Government what to do.

Cr John Bezett said the issue was one for central Government, and Dunedin was ”wasting our time” giving its opinion.

Cr Andrew Whiley said climate change was a problem needing to be addressed first and foremost by the world’s biggest polluters, including China and India.

Both there was more support in a fairly left leaning council:

But that view was rejected by Cr Richard Thomson, who said grass-roots pressure was what drove governments to make big decisions.

Cr David Benson-Pope brought cheers from the gallery for his speech on why Dunedin had to take a stand.

”Like it or not, colleagues, we are part of our community. In fact, we are supposed to be some of the carriers of the moral leadership.”

”There was no question what thousands of New Zealanders thought about the issue during the weekend’s climate change marches,” he said.

”They think this community needs to move.

”I agree with them, and I’m not reluctant to … tell the Government it’s time that they got real and re-established a degree of political integrity and moral fibre on this issue.”

Benson-Pope has a Labour rather than a Green background. He was an MP from 1999-2008.From 2005-2007 he was Minister for the Environment in the Clark Government.

Unusually for a setting MP he was not selected by his party to stand again for Dunedin South in 2008. It seems like he still has a hankering for being involved in national politics.

I’m not surprised with this Green politicking in Dunedin, the Greening and Lefting of the council was an issue of concern raised in the 2013 election.

I would rather the Dunedin council put more effort into administering and improving Dunedin for their rate payers rather than delving into Green national politics.

UPDATE: In other news in the ODT today things that don’t seem to matter so much to DCC councillors:

Queenstown-Lakes also fared well in the number of dwelling consents issued in October with 96, up from 65 in September and by far the highest for the past 12 months.

Central Otago had 19 dwellings consented, up from 16 and again the highest total for the past 12 months.

Dunedin slumped to 19 dwelling consents in October from 25 in September.

That’s depressing enough, but more so given the headline: New year looks good for Otago builders.  Not so much for Dunedin builders.