Is it just me, or has the media coverage of the proposed Courtenay Place changes focused a little too much on the issues related to the curbing of an “out-of-control” party zone, much to the detriment of several other important issues. For example, in the Dominion Post it was noted that:

“Out-of-control drinking … has prompted a radical review, which could result in which could result in closed-circuit television cameras scanning the streets, a 24/7 alcohol ban and peak-hour traffic blocked.”

The polemic of Courtenay as a dangerous embarrassment may or may not be entirely valid, and I understand the usefullness of alcohol bans and CCTVs, but of what relevance are the drinking problems to restrictions on peak-hour traffic? 8am and 6pm are hardly the epicenters of anti-social drunkenness. I feel these changes should stand on their own merits; if implemented, this change – and several others in the same vein – would have a dramatic effects on how the area operates.

Another interesting suggestion is to increase the amount of outdoor space available to bars and resteraunts by removing car parks and extending the footpath – particularly on the Courtney ends of Blair and Allen. Although, it seems that blurring the lines between street and bar could create some strife with any new crack-down on public drinking.

Other proposals include:

  • A city wide full public alcohol ban
  • CCTV cameras
  • Improved street lighting.
  • Two large late-night taxi stands at opposite ends of Courtenay Place.
  • Flexible kerbside car parks – converted to footpath at night
  • Extra Walkwise staff
  • A “safe haven” kiosk, possibly manned by police, or social agencies/Walkwise

Having not found a developer for the proposed wine bar, it has also been recently envisioned that the heritage Toilets becomes a storage area/dressing room for the music, theatre and performances that Courtenay Park is aiming to host. I’m slightly skeptical about the use of the park as an outdoor venue for such activities, it’s awkwardly shaped, relatively small and in the middle of heavy pedestrian traffic. Surely this would not be an ideal spot for anything beyond very small performances?

I like the direction proposed for Courtenay, an increased focus on pedestrian qualities seems to be the right direction for the area. However given the recent drama raised when Courtenay Park overwrote several parking spaces, is it realistic to assume that car access to the area can be realistically limited, or even removed?

Should – and can – Courtenay become the new Cuba St?

Tagged in: