New Auckland book outlines critical turning point for city

Press Release – Oratia Media

Auckland is rapidly approaching a turning point: it could take off and become one of the best cities in the Pacific, or continue to struggle with runaway population growth and living costs, argues public policy advocate Owen Gill in a bold new book published today.

Turning Point Auckland, which is marked by optimism about Auckland, provides a pithy analysis of the choice Auckland faces as it reaches the landmark population of two million people.

The book provides an up-to-the-minute account of how New Zealand’s largest and most complex urban centre, with its dynamic economy and highly diverse population, increasingly resembles powerhouse cities like Melbourne and Vancouver.

Turning Point Auckland aims to raise the quality of the debate about Auckland’s long-term future, approaching the 10th anniversary of the final report of the Royal Commission into Auckland — which led directly to the Super City in 2010.

Author Owen Gill explains how Auckland has entered its second big leap in population, which will take the city to two million people around 2026–28 at current growth. The last time it experienced a big urban leap like this was in the 25 years to 1976, when its population doubled.

Drawing on his international experience of policy development and city management, Gill believes Auckland is under-prepared for two million people. He says the city faces four main problems:
– How to pay for the services that two million people will need, without continuing the steady increase in the cost of running the city that Aucklanders are seeing now
– How to raise the $45 billion to build roads, bridges, tunnels and railways for two million people, without shackling households and businesses with the cost
– How to ensure Auckland’s spectacular natural environment is preserved as the growing population puts more pressure on space and resources
– How Auckland can take direct control of most aspects of its future, with less reliance on central Government and the rest of New Zealand

Turning Point argues Auckland must face these questions with a big-picture view, following policies that would address the four big questions, including:
– Reaching a formal contract between Auckland and Government, under which the city would enjoy greater autonomy in exchange for increasing its own investment
– Raising a big slice of private capital to pay for Auckland’s roads, bridges and railways, accepting that private funders may demand tolls and fares
– Providing Auckland with its own urban development statute — replacing the Resource Management Act to address Auckland’s special demands in planning, consenting, and building
– Providing an innovative form of rate rebate in suburbs that are being built up quickly, so that existing residents feel less imposed upon by densification
– Encouraging the big businesses that make Auckland their base — and which draw on its workers, schools, and transport — to take a central role in advancing Auckland’s interests

Finally, the book proposes a deal with citizens that would inspire a deeper sense of what it means to be an Aucklander. Such a compact would demand more of Aucklanders, but would lead to local government that is better equipped to run the city — and a city that is more ambitious for itself.

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