By SARA MEIJ
Plastic parking tickets continue to litter Nelson city almost three years after the council announced a $1 million plan to tackle the issue.
The Nelson City Council’s plan in 2015 proposed to replace all existing parking meters with more modern, high-tech models between 2017 and 2019.
However, in response to a question from a member of the public about phasing out plastic parking tickets during a Long Term Plan hearing last week, council staff said it was “just about to run a trial with paper”.
If the trial was successful, paper would be placed in the old machines or in the new “environmentally acceptable” ones which were due “mid 2019 onwards”.
Nelson City Council group manager infrastructure Alec Louverdis said a previous trial with paper tickets didn’t work because it jammed the machines.
A new trial was set to start “as early as the end of the week”, to see if a new type of paper could be used.
Nelson Environment Centre kai rescue coordinator Sarah Langi mentored a group of Nelson College of Girls students in 2016 to investigate where the plastic coated tickets ended up.
They found 200 parking tickets in 40 minutes around the city, as far away as Upper Moutere, in the Botanic Gardens, on the banks of the Maitai River and in the sea where kayakers found them.
Langi said she was disappointed and didn’t understand why the council hadn’t trialled paper options two years ago.
“They’re a real litter problem as well as a plastic problem.”
“The plastic in the ocean is what really upsets me, if Nelson City Council can’t keep plastic from the ocean, who can, you know? We should be doing better.”
The tickets are recyclable as part of the soft plastic recycling, but that scheme had only been implemented in the region last year through The Packaging Forum’s Love NZ soft plastic recycling programme.
Langi said the plastic tickets rarely ended up in the soft recycling bin.
“I feel it’s disappointing. They need to hurry up and change it.”
Nelson College for Girls alumni Kate Newton was part of the group Langi mentored and is now studying environmental science at Victoria University in Wellington.
She said it was “kind of upsetting” that nothing had been done about the problem since they raised awareness about it in school.
“I feel like we [Nelson] are quite behind in terms of the parking tickets, compared to other cities around the country.
“We didn’t expect change immediately but 2.5 years is quite a lot of time.”
Councillor Mel Courtney said the council had “over-promised and under-delivered” on the project to replace the parking meters.
“This is what tarnishes the image of local Government and councillors.”
He said he knew of parking tickets being found on the sea side of the Boulder Bank and “littered all over Haulashore Island”.
“It’s been a major concern of local residents over the years. Everything seems to take so long these days [within the council], from the time an idea is born it takes about three years to get it happening.
“That’s when councillors get frustrated, when they’re continuously battling away resident concerns that are impacting our environment greatly.”
Courtney said he thought the delay in implementing new electronic parking meters was possibly due to cost.
“Three years ago it was all on and all happening; $1m on new parking meters, it was amazing what they were going to do, get the machines form Auckland, Kiwi made, you could pay your parking ticket with your credit card.
Louverdis said parking ticket machines in the CBD were “reaching the end of their serviceable life”.
The parking meter renewal project would begin in “2018/2019 for the investigation phase of the project”, where the council would be looking at what meters were best suited for the city centre.