Wellington Mayor Justin Lester plans to make the city’s Golden Mile car-free and to end homelessness in the city, if he is re-elected.
Photo: RNZ / Aaron Smale
He launched his campaign today as part of a wider launch of Labour Party candidates running for Wellington City Council. These include sitting councillors Brian Dawson, Fleur Fitzsimons, and Peter Gilberd.
So far, Mr Lester is the only person to officially announce he will run for mayor of Wellington in October’s election.
He made three pledges during his speech: to end homelessness, transform Wellington into a people focussed city by removing cars from the Golden Mile, and create a Welcome Home programme to help integrate refugees into the city.
Speaking to reporters after the announcement, Mr Lester said he was would ‘damn well try’ to end homelessness in three years, if he was elected again.
“We didn’t have homelessness in Wellington in the past,” he said.
“The numbers are relatively small – they fluctuate between 50 and 70 – so we’re going to build enough supportive living units so there’s no good reason someone has to be on the streets.”
Earlier this year the council announced 40 supported living units would be part of a development built in partnership with Housing New Zealand.
Mr Lester said getting cars off the Golden Mile, which includes Lambton Quay, Willis Street and Courtenay Place, would happen in the next term.
Parking would still be available in private car parks.
“We’re talking about taking out a few (carparks), but building a beautiful city.”
It was a promise he had made separate of Let’s Get Wellington Moving, a major transport project – the details of which were first expected to be announced last August. Those details would definitely be revealed by the end of this month, he said.
His third pledge, to create a new package to help integrate refugees, had been borne out of the mosque shootings in Christchurch on 15 March.
It would include free entry to council services and came from a desire to build inclusive, diverse, and strong communities.
Mr Lester said he expected someone else to join him in the mayoral race.
“I’ll have an opponent, there’s no doubt. There’ll be somebody who’s keen to run, and I encourage it.”