704 submissions received – well done on having your say!
More hard work from our volunteers today found overwhelming support for community green spaces at today’s Rotary Carnival, held at Bramley Drive Reserve.
Again the themes were similar – a real concern over Council’s lack of appreciation of how valuable our small reserves and green spaces are to our communities; the lack of consultation and awareness that people have of the Council’s process; and the true appreciation our communities have for the work that our volunteers are doing to change the outcome.
Thanks again to everyone who is helping our message be heard, and for giving people the opportunity to voice their concerns.
With another 109 written and signed oppositions, it is clear that the people are not happy with the decisions that Council is making on their behalf.
There are so many great viewpoints coming through from people who have talked to us directly or have sent their submissions through. While everyone has their own personal experiences, here is a selection of quotes / points made in feedback provided so far, which may resonate with you for your own submission:
These reserves are a vital part of our communities. They are beautiful green spaces where we enjoy playing with our children and families.
The reserves are a place for social engagement where interaction with neighbours, old and new is vital for our mental wellbeing.
We are lucky enough to have many native birds who live in the trees on the Forty Foot Lane reserve, the Council should be encouraging more planting of native trees and shrubs on the reserve instead of destroying them.
The Council states that 9R Fortyfoot lane, our local park, is surplus to requirement, this comment is totally unjustified. This green space is a gift to the community and once sold will never be replaced.
Auckland Council cannot and should not be this shortsighted – selling off precious greenspace is not the answer.
These reserves are vital for the health, road safety and enjoyment of young families with children, grand children and pets, who cannot walk unsupervised along dangerous roads to distant parks or play in busy parks such as Lloyd Elsmore, where sporting activities make it too hazardous for very young children to run around freely.
Obliterating these green areas will also destroy the pleasant rural atmosphere of Sunnyhills and Pakuranga, and turn it into a concrete jungle devoid of grass areas, shady trees for the elderly to sit under and areas for the very young to frolic safely without the danger of being hurt by sporting activities.
No Greenspace means no trees or vegetation, no or little photosynthesis. Nothing to correct the CO2 and O2 generated by pollution and green house gases.
These reserves are a vital part of our communities. They are beautiful green spaces where we enjoy playing with our children and as a family.
The reserves are a place for social engagement where interaction with neighbours, old and new is vital for our mental wellbeing.
There is only a finite, and relatively small, amount of reserve land and the population will continue to increase far beyond that into the future, so it is not a sustainable long-term strategy, merely a short term, short sighted one.
Hard work really paid off with 227 individual oppositions received from Howick Market-goers. The need to keep our green spaces really resonated with the public, with some repeated themes coming through:
- All green spaces are important to people for various reasons, but those with children especially, who really worry about keeping the safety provided by pocket green spaces which are close to houses.
- The intensification of Auckland housing means that current green spaces are not enough, let alone losing more of them.
- While most generally understand the need for short term changes to generate funding – emotions ran high about Council’s current avenues of expenditure – with many voicing dissatisfaction over the number of high paid public servants across Council and Panuku, overly bureaucratic processes draining Council resources, and Council failing to address cost drains and opportunities such as floating the troubled Ports Of Auckland
- There was also a theme of general opposition and concern over the Council not having listened to the community and our Howick Local Board representatives. Many were appalled when they heard that only 4 of the 14 proposed reserves in this round of review had received opposition from Councillors, yet Council and the Mayor overruled them regardless. This was of serious concern to those who aren’t necessarily affected or near a reserve, but significantly affects the Council’s credibility and decision-making processes.
Thanks to those who went to the market this morning, for raising public awareness of the situation, and for gathering so much written support. With only 10 more days until submissions close, we need to keep spreading the word, and helping people put pen to paper before it’s too late.
Thank you to everyone who came and showed their support on Saturday – and for all those who let us know that although they couldn’t make it, they strongly support the cause.
While we know the timing wasn’t ideal, clashing with the America’s Cup racing, we only had a limited opportunity to have our local MP and Councillors join us – so thanks again to everyone for making the effort.
A surprise visit from a neighbourhood piper drummed up attention from the streets around – and while we know not everyone could be there, we had a great turnout and was a great chance to discuss the Council’s process, where submission numbers are currently at, the contents of some of the submissions, and what to do if people were still struggling to get their thoughts down on paper.
Please join the public meeting to be held at 9R Fortyfoot Lane Reserve at 4.30pm on Saturday 13th March 2021.
Please take the opportunity to show your opposition to the sale of the Reserve, and help our local MP and Councillors show the Minister how much our reserve means to our community.
There are some key points in Council’s own article shown below; it reminds that we need to create options to help get through the short term so we can move together to our shared long-term strategy. Council don’t appear to disagree with needing greenspace, but they need more money right now. A point so important right now is the need for more trees to help stem climate change – maybe we offer to help plant another 50 trees around the ForthFoot Lane Reserve boundary to help the Mayor’s One Million Trees programme goal?…
From the below article, “The research analysed the activities of 12,500 New Zealanders, including 2500 Aucklanders, and found they were less likely to be overweight or suffer from obesity if they lived close to a park.”
The health benefits of green spaces
Published: 1 May 2019
An increasing body of evidence suggests that a closer connection to nature is good for our heads, our hearts and our lungs. But as Auckland grows, our precious green spaces and trees are increasingly under threat. In the first part of a three-part series for OurAuckland, Elly Strang looks at the many benefits green spaces bring to the health of our people and our city.
Humans have long believed that being in or around nature has healing properties. But the idea was previously more intuitive than evidential – a warm glow rather than hard science. Now, with large-scale public-health problems such as obesity and depression being linked to a rise in technology, a disconnect from the outdoors and more time spent inside, researchers are showing renewed interest in the topic, and studies from around the world are finding that those who live close to green spaces enjoy positive impacts on both their physical and mental wellbeing.
The science behind green wellbeing
A new Danish study has found that when children grow up with green space around them, they have 55 per cent less risk of developing a range of mental-health problems later in life. Researchers from Aarhus University found that the more greenery a person is exposed to up to the age of 10, the lower the risk of 16 mental disorders, including anxiety and depression, even when controlling for factors such as socio-economics and urbanisation.
“Our findings affirm that integrating natural environments into urban planning is a promising approach to improve mental health and reduce the rising global burden of psychiatric disorders,” the study’s authors say.
Closer to home, a team led by University of Canterbury professor Simon Kingham has studied the effects of public and private green spaces on physical health. The research analysed the activities of 12,500 New Zealanders, including 2500 Aucklanders, and found they were less likely to be overweight or suffer from obesity if they lived close to a park.
“Globally, nearly every study I’ve read says the more green space you’ve got near where you live, the better your health is,” Kingham says. “Park creation and planting in existing public spaces may serve as low-cost disease prevention options.”
In its 10-year budget released last year, Auckland Council boosted funding for parks, open spaces and community facilities to $3.7 billion, with $1.4 billion set aside for acquiring and developing public open spaces and parks. This was ahead of infrastructure as the single biggest increase within the budget.
Improving equity of access to green space
Kingham says another finding of his team’s study was that people in lower socioeconomic areas tended to have less access to good-quality green spaces. “All green space is not the same.”
This is why Auckland Council’s Urban Ngahere (Forest) Strategy is vital to the health of the city. It aims to address the unequal distribution of trees across the region and increase the benefits of a green city for all.
It also aims to undo some of the damage done by urbanisation, rising inequality and climate change. The plan is to increase Auckland’s average tree-canopy cover from 18 to 30 per cent, while targeting areas where cover is scarce, such as parts of south Auckland, so that all local board areas have at least 15 per cent cover.
Councillor Penny Hulse, chair of the council’s Environment and Community Committee, says Auckland’s rapid urban growth has swallowed up native bush and open spaces.
“It hasn’t always been the norm to replant trees in areas that have been developed since the 1980s,” she says. “With higher-density housing we’ve lost a lot of urban trees, as people haven’t always valued them as much as they should.”
Hulse says so-called “leafy suburbs” have fantastic tree cover, but the urban canopy is not evenly distributed across Auckland. In some neighbourhoods, streetscape planting – where trees are planted along the roadside – is also lacking.
“The amalgamation of Auckland’s former councils means we get to look across the whole region to see where those gaps are,” she says. “Among the lowest on the canopy cover statistics are places like Ōtara and Papatoetoe. We’d like to make them as leafy as the suburbs in Waitematā, not just because it’s beautiful, but because it’s better for communities.”
‘Knowing, growing and protecting’
The Urban Ngahere Strategy is underpinned by a three-pillar framework: knowing, growing and protecting. This involves tracking the size, health, condition and distribution of trees around Auckland and increasing the number to boost the benefits and address inequity, while also protecting existing trees.
Hulse says local boards are organising planting in areas that have been degraded, and Mayor Phil Goff’s Million Trees programme is a great example of a planting project making big strides. Under the scheme, 648,000 trees were planted around Auckland in the first two planting seasons, and the millionth tree is being planted in Tōtara Park on 14 June. Auckland Council collaborates with a range of groups on the plantings, from schools, to community groups, to prison inmates.
“We’re getting huge numbers of volunteers for planting,” Goff says. “They’re not as fast as the professionals we use, but they’re there and ready. It’s all about what you want to leave as a legacy. I went and planted 50 native trees, and I’m going to take my grandkids back there and show them the trees when they’re 30, 40, 50 metres high. People get a thrill out of that and know we’re undoing some of the damage done; they see it as a way they can make a difference.”
Hulse says planting more trees now is crucial to combat growing inequity as the climate gets warmer.
“Climate change is talked about as an inequity magnifier. In other words, the people most vulnerable to climate change are those at the challenging end of the social scale, and if you look at where the least tree cover is, it’s the vulnerable areas. Internationally, it’s been shown that communities who live in areas where there are lots of trees are able to adapt to warmth more easily, so let’s address those two things together.”
Urban green spaces and health. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2016.
Key points from the document below, reinforce the positive effects of urban green space:
- “…there are many public health benefits through diverse pathways, such as psychological relaxation and stress reduction, enhanced physical activity, and mitigation of exposure to air pollution, excessive heat, and noise…”
- The evidence shows that urban green space has health benefits, particularly for economically deprived communities, children, pregnant women and senior citizens.
- “…The available evidence suggests that there is also a need for small, local green spaces very close to where people live and spend their day, as well as large green spaces, offering formal provisions such as playing fields, and opportunities to experience contact with nature and relative solitude.”
- “A city of well‐connected, attractive green spaces that offer safe opportunities for urban residents for active mobility and sports as well as for stress recovery, recreation and social contact, is likely to be more resilient to extreme environmental events…. Such a city is also likely to have healthier citizens, reducing demands on health services and contributing to a stronger economy.”
Many, many good points in the paper below, presented by Public Health England, which reinforce why it’s so important to keep our green spaces – especially in the times of COVID-19; some key statements from the paper include:
“Evidence shows that living in a greener environment can promote and protect good health, and aid in recovery from illness and help with managing poor health.”
“Greener environments are also associated with better mental health and wellbeing outcomes including reduced levels of depression, anxiety, and fatigue, and enhanced quality of life for both children and adults.”
“‘Natural capital’ can help local authorities address local issues that they face, including improving health and wellbeing, managing health and social care costs, reducing health inequalities, improving social cohesion and taking positive action to address climate change.”
In contrast, the paper states “When local health priorities are not reflected within the Local Plan, it can be difficult to make the case for specific planning standards to be implemented to address health needs, or to defend planning decisions made on health grounds.”
“Despite this, it can be challenging to make a compelling case, and often greenspace is still seen as a liability rather than an asset.”
We MUST urge Council to prioritise our community’s local health!
New signs at end of Boulevard and FortFoot Lane – and by the driveway to the Pakuranga Sailing Club off Bramley Drive…….Thank you!!