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Our presentation on America's Cup options to the Auckland Council Governing Body

Thursday 23 Nov 2017

On 23 November, Auckland Council considered the proposed locations for the America's Cup on the city centre waterfront. Our CEO, Viv Beck presented in public forum, asking Councillors to ensure the event will create a great legacy for our waterfront and for Aucklanders. 

Auckland Council took the decision that two location options would be further investigated: a cluster of bases on Halsey Wharf, Hobson Wharf and Wynyard Wharf East, and a cluster of bases on the Western and Eastern side of Wynyard Wharf and Site 18. A final decision on location, infrastructure and funding will be made by council on 14 December.

Viv Beck's Presentation to the Auckland Council Governing Body

The America’s Cup is a major opportunity for Auckland and New Zealand.  And your decisions will have an impact long after the event itself.

We appreciate that a lot of work goes into projects like this and that things are often complex and we appreciate the work of the Planning Committee led by Cr Darby to bring greater alignment to city centre projects. 

But looking from the outside in, the alignment doesn’t stretch far enough across the wider Council group.  We are deeply concerned at the incremental approach being taken to develop our waterfront.   

Ports of Auckland have released plans to tide us over for the next 30 years.  City centre plans have been tabled which also include development around the waterfront.  And now we have planning to host the America’s Cup.

We can see there is integration in some areas, but we do not believe it represents truly aligned thinking that will achieve great results for the city overall, not just the objectives of individual organizations or projects. 

Of course, we recognise that there will always be opportunities that can’t be perfectly planned. 

But we would have expected this was an opportunity to paint a picture for the public of how these plans knit together to create a waterfront that everyone says they want. 

In terms of the preferred location for the America’s Cup, our plea is that economic and environmental factors are considered fully along with the post-America’s Cup impact on the city before a decision is locked down. 

We have not had long to digest the material provided, but our view is that there are some environmental challenges that are perhaps under-emphasised. 

We also can see that while the economic assumptions seem fair and are based on a solid baseline, there are costs that have not yet been assessed.  

However, we’d love to see the America’s Cup right in the heart of the city.  Projections show benefits for business and while the estimates of economic value could be criticized for over-counting the net impact on GDP because they do not allow for displacement of expenditure that would have otherwise occurred, it is still valid to assess the expenditure associated with the event.  

In terms of the options for consideration, we don’t support the Halsey Wharf extension because it rips at the heart of public concerns for our waterfront. 

But we can see the benefits of clustering around Halsey, Hobson and Wynyard Wharf East.  There is a natural ampitheatre so the public can participate fully in a great Cup atmosphere and there are opportunities for businesses to support this. 

Ideally this could be achieved without further encroachment into the harbour – 50 metres is still quite a long way out and we must stop seeing extending into the harbour as a default option.  However, unless a viable alternative can be found that does not involve any extension into the harbour at all, it may prove to be a practical option to meet the diverse stakeholder needs. 

We ask that you are satisfied with the answers to the environmental, economic and legacy for Auckland questions before a decision is made.  

We’d love to see a successful America’s Cup event that creates a great legacy and puts us well on the road to the waterfront that people want.  A waterfront that respects the environment and our precious harbour, one that respects our cultural heritage, one that stands out on an international stage and, importantly, one we can all enjoy.