Building Cities Better webinar
Viv Beck is CEO of Heart of the City, Auckland’s city centre business association. Viv has seen first-hand the impact of City Rail Link construction and has championed the need for a hardship fund for impacted businesses, and early planning and provision for this issue with future large-scale projects. Viv will share insights on this and better ways of operating.
Rick Mitry is a partner at Mitry Lawyers in Sydney. Rick leads the major class action against the New South Wales government to gain compensation for the Sydney light rail project. He has a wealth of information and research on the impacts the project has had on businesses and residents and will provide an insight into what can happen if governments don’t proactively plan effective strategies for these projects.
Dr Rosalie Singerman Ray is an assistant professor of Geography. Her research focuses on transit governance and managing a just transition to sustainable transport. She has a PhD in Urban Planning from Columbia University and she studied the impact of Los Angeles’ metro rail extension. This research concluded that mitigation programmes should be standard practice when building new transit routes. She previously worked as an economist for the US Department of Transportation.
Viv Beck is CEO of Heart of the City, Auckland’s city centre business association. Viv has championed the need for a hardship fund for impacted businesses, and early planning and provision for this issue with future large-scale projects.
Rick Mitry is a partner at Mitry Lawyers in Sydney. Rick leads the major class action against the New South Wales government to gain compensation for the Sydney light rail project.
Dr Rosalie Singerman Ray, an assistant professor of Geography, joined us from the USA. Her PhD in Urban Planning from Columbia University studied the impact of Los Angeles’ metro rail extension. This research concluded that mitigation programmes should be standard practice when building new transit routes.
Viv described the devastating and life changing impacts of Covid in Auckland including significant loss of income, physical impacts such as loss of amenity and health impacts. A Heart of the City assessment has reported 200 CBD businesses impacted.
Rick explained how many businesses in central Sydney were severely affected and how suicide tragically resulted from the financial stress. 234 Sydney business owners have joined a class action with total losses equating to greater than $300m.
Rosalie has worked with four transit agencies who had implemented advice, tools and financial support to assist business impact by construction impacts. Research shows that businesses who are located more than 400m from a public transport hub project had a 46% greater likelihood of business closure. She emphasised that cost impacts on business were unavoidable with significant urban projects and so effective mitigation strategies now being modelled in best-practice cities should be employed in New Zealand.
The webinar heard that despite a high level of engagement with stakeholders in the early Central Rail Link planning, once the project began it became clear that inadequate consideration had been undertaken to mitigate social and economic impacts and instead the focus was on minimising construction costs. Rosalie explained how there’s a general belief that temporary pain is followed by long-term success and a fear that publicly admitting adverse impacts will threaten the viability of project.
The Heart of the City championed efforts to provide a remedy to CRL impacts and this resulted in a $12 million fund established by government and Auckland Council However, the webinar heard that a maximum of $10k of funding per business simply won’t be enough for businesses in deep distress.
In Australia the government offered circa $200k per business to those Sydney businesses impacted by the Sydney light rail project. However, most businesses only received a tiny fraction, and many businesses are in or facing liquidation. The current value of class action that Rick is working on is approaching $400m – something he urged New Zealand to avoid.
The clear message was that nobody should lose their livelihood or wellbeing over an urbanconstruction project. This needs to be considered part of the overall project cost and is fundamental to New Zealand’s light rail plans. The Committee will be monitoring the progress the government makes now it has received the light rail options report and will soon make decisions.