On 2 September, the CHAT Club introduced MaRTI to an audience of 50+ people. Great to see so much interest in our Middleton to Rolleston Transformation Initiative. Over the course of 90 minutes, we explained the high level vision and concepts of MaRTI and how this proposal fits in with the Christchurch Hand Plan. The presentation slides are available online and, thanks to Aaron Campbell, the proceedings can be watched on YouTube. You can read a 2-page executive summary about MaRTI or there’s the full report (48 pages).
The evening had been announced by The Press in its Monday edition and the next morning, they followed up with another article. Thank you for giving our initiative such great exposure! The second article dealt with a reaction by KiwiRail that they have no plans to shift their Middleton rail yard despite a 2014 report Greater Christchurch Freight Infrastructure Statement stating (on page 11):
KiwiRail has identified that the current configuration of Middleton Yard will reach capacity in the next five to ten years under current freight growth trends.Aurecon (2014): Greater Christchurch Freight Infrastructure Statement
From our perspective, MaRTI and the Christchurch Hand proposal are high-level strategies for future transport and housing initiatives outlining a desirable direction for city planning. Central government may deem the objectives important enough for a relocation of the rail yard to be in the region’s best interest even if this is not KiwiRail’s immediate plan. Our overall intention is to generate a discussion about these issues. As somebody pointed out, we have given ourselves the name “CHAT Club” and that allows us to “chat” about ideas that public agencies can’t, at least not in public.
It would be fair to say that some officials have raised concerns with us that some ideas may counter to what is being planned through the ‘proper channels’. It is not our intention to compromise the good work that is being undertaken but we firmly believe that it is of value to involve the wider public in discussions about future opportunities. The official process does not facilitate those unconstrained discussion, with “Share an Idea” the big exception to that. Usually, when public consultation happens, the direction for projects has already been set. Our discussions are about setting the direction for the region. The CHAT Club can be more exploratory and ultimately, we can dismiss some of the ideas that turn out to be infeasible.