Mt Victoria Festival is this Saturday!

Mark your diaries – this Saturday will be filled with fun and frivolity at the Mt Victoria Festival in Roxburgh Street! The theme of the Festival is sustainability and organic living, and more than 65 stalls are confirmed – including food, sustainable lifestyle and high-quality entertainment.

Here’s the map of the Festival, and there’s a downloadable version and schedules for entertainment and workshops over the fold.

Paul Redbird from Radio Active and The Comediettes will entertain and MC the day….

Schedule for the day – the cool things that are happening

Entertainment Schedule

10.00am: Mayor Kerry Prendergast opens the festival
10.10am: Linda Joy
11.00am: Ben Parsons
12.00pm: Tessa Rain
1:00pm: Jonny on the Spot
1:45pm: Tribal Style Bellydance
2.00pm: Funky Junk

Activity / Workshop Schedule:

10.00am: Raising hens in the city; worm farming
10.45am: Guided walk – Friendly dogs on leads welcome!
11.00am: Gardening for lizards
11:00am: Rain water catchment
11:00am: Art Deco walk around Mount Victoria
12.00pm: Sustainable waste management for the home
12:00pm: Reducing waste at work
12.30pm: Bread making
1:00pm: Flax Weaving; Beekeeping
1:00pm: Northern Mount Victoria History walk
2.00pm: Gardening with kids
2:00pm: Funky Junk drumming
2:00pm: Backyard ecological restoration

Eco – Documentaries (Upstairs in Crossways)

10.00am: Innovative inner city community housing & green roof gardens
11.00am: Rainbow Valley Farm NZ- Composting/Bokashi System/Worm farms
12.00pm: Permaculture – A quiet revolution
1:00pm: The Organic Opportunity – local organic food as economic development
2.00pm: Permaculture in Practice

A new feature this year is Speakers Corner – local people and local politicians waxing eloquent about the issues of the day!

10.30 Cr Celia Wade-Brown – A Vision for the Inner City
10.45 Cr Iona Pannett – There are Answers
11.00 Grant Robertson MP – A Labour View
11.15 Green MP
11.30 Cr Ray Apihene-Mercer – Climate Change
12.00 Phil Saxby – Marijuana Reform
12.15 Kent Duston – Save the Basin Reserve
12.30 Cr Stephanie Cook – Water
12.45 Linda Sharp – Transition Towns
1.00 Nicola Rankin – Trash Palace
1.15 Mark Eden – Animal Rights
1.30 Valerie Morse – Terrorism Here and There
1.45 Lisa Barnes – Anti Whaling – Sea Shepherd
2.00 growing fruit trees in the wind & remaining sane – Grow From Here
2.15 Joel Cosgrove – Workers’ Rights

Art Exhibitions, displays, food and eco-documentaries will screen inside Crossways so pop up for some delicious homebakes and a cuppa and see what’s on offer!

So long, Jessica!

Next week the moving truck will arrive, and MVRA President Jessica Closson and family will begin the long trip back to the United States to take up new jobs and residence in San Francisco.

Jessica has been a stalwart of the community and the Residents Association since she, her husband Morgan and son Luke arrived in Mt Victoria four years ago. For the last two years, Jessica has been President of MVRA and has led some high-profile campaigns, notably the successful High Court challenge against the resource consent granted to the Pirie Street brothel.

Everyone who has worked with Jessica over the last few years can testify to her energy and enthusiasm for our community. She has done an exceptional amount of work over that time, writing, researching and presenting the many submissions that MVRA makes to local and central government, convening and attending a huge number of meetings, and talking to everyone from concerned residents to creche mothers and councillors about the issues of the day.

Jessica’s passion for our community will be sorely missed in Mt Victoria, and we wish her and her family every success in San Francisco.

What To Do About Intersections (and Council spokespeople)

The Capital Times has a story this week about the intersection of Pirie Street and Kent Terrace, saying that motorists are frustrated at the long delays when trying to exit Pirie Street for Kent and Cambridge Terraces.

As many locals will know, it’s potentially a long wait at the lights. The Capital Times explores the idea that recent (well, actually not so recent) changes to the intersection have resulted in much longer delays for Pirie Street drivers. This is put down to pedestrians suddenly being acknowledged as legitimate road users by the traffic engineers. So far, so good – it’s an interesting hypothesis, and definitely worth investigation.

Then into the discussion leaps Wellington City Council spokesperson Richard MacLean, who in a flash of lateral thinking proceeds to blame the Mt Victoria Residents Association for the changes and resulting delays! It’s a fantastic story – those pesky and pushy residents have been disrupting the flow of traffic due to their unreasonable demands! Blame them!

If only it were true.

What Mr MacLean omitted to do was any actual research. If he had, he would have discovered – as we did – that the intersection forms part of State Highway One, and is therefore one of Transport Minister Steven Joyce’s Roads of National Significance™. The phasing of the traffic lights is therefore governed by the NZ Transport Agency, to which the Wellington City Council makes requests when changes are sought to the operation of the intersection.

When local residents asked for improvements to the pedestrian signaling, it required the intervention of the Mayor and the Council’s traffic engineers to get the NZ Transport Agency to make a trivial alteration to the phasing. And the change truly was minor – we asked that when you pressed the Walk button on Kent Terrace, it activated the lights on Cambridge Terrace and vice-versa. That’s it. No changes to the phasing for cars were requested, nor made (as far as we know). Even so, getting the alteration took nearly a year – the NZ Transport Agency is not what you’d call “responsive”.

However there is a reason why residents have a long wait at the bottom of Pirie Street; it’s that Pirie Street is a local road, and State Highway traffic always has preference over local traffic. It’s a deliberate policy, and the same approach is taken right around the country. This is because – in the mind of the NZ Transport Agency – keeping the traffic flowing on State Highway One adds economic value to the country, while waiting for the interminable traffic light change on a local road doesn’t. Or something.

Thankfully, Mr MacLean goes on to suggest that local drivers use the Elizabeth Street intersection instead, which – as it turns out – is both a good idea and the one thing he managed to get right.

Bowling Club or Party Central?

Pirie Street residents have reported a significant upswing in the after-hours parties occurring at the Victoria Bowling Club on the edge of the Town Belt over the summer. In early January a very large party with a live band ran into the small hours of the morning, leading us to wonder about how the Bowling Club reconciled its supposedly sporting activities with renting the facilities to partygoers.

The Bowling Club is located on the Town Belt, which means it leases the land from the Wellington City Council. The Town Belt Deed requires that all activities on the Town Belt are recreational in nature, a provision that seems to have excluded the Crossways Creche from using the Bandoliers site at the top of Majoribanks Street. So how is renting out the Bowling Club buildings to all comers as a party venue consistent with the lease to the Club?

We asked the Council about this, and the Property section kindly sent us a copy of the lease to the Bowling Club. It clearly states:

The premises shall be used for the purpose of the sport of bowls, and such other functions reasonably required by the Lessee for its social activities but for no other purpose whatsoever without the prior written consent of the Lessor AND THEN subject to such conditions as the Lessor in its absolute discretion thinks fit, including the imposition of a different sum as rental.

Seems pretty plain to us – it’s a bowling club, not an extension of Courtenay Place. However when we called Lou Newman from the Bowling Club and asked about whether renting the facilities for parties was permitted, he informed us that the Bowling Club could use the premises for anything it liked.

Of course, that’s not what the lease says.

We understand that the Council has a meeting with the Bowling Club to discuss the concerns of local residents in the coming weeks, and we’ll keep everyone informed about whether Party Central will be continuing on in its current form.

The stupidest person in Wellington

Spotted at the entrance to the bus tunnel, in the middle of the evening rush-hour:

Yes, that black dot silhouetted at the Hataitai end of the tunnel is someone running through. After dodging at least four buses ….

… he duly appears at the Mt Victoria end, running like a demon.

Yup – young, male and stupid. He seems to be a living testament to the fact that we are unable to learn from the misfortunes of others.