I like Wellington, as a city. It is a compact place, a Saturday evening stroll through the café district an exciting wash of colour, people, smells and sound. Yet since a wave of earthquakes began sweeping over my city, nearly three weeks ago, the city centre is quiet.
Normally these streets would be way more crowded on a Saturday evening. Even the opening of ‘New Zealand’s Got Talent’ across the road didn’t do more than make that side of the street look normal for a Saturday night.
I don’t think it’s worry about another quake. Our seismologists are good; the risk’s low. People are philosophical about the risks and nobody I’ve spoken to is worried. No, that’s not the problem. I suspect a large part of it is the fact that half the parking buildings are closed. Other parking building owners have elevated prices to ‘highway robbery’ level in response.
Parking on the street is suicidal in the face of a vicious guilt-on-existence Council parking enforcement system – and you don’t have to be in a carpark to be ticketed. For a while they had an enforcement spy car roaming the street photographing drivers and ticketing people that included one motorist waiting to turn. I am not joking, it got to court. The Council lost, and the incident did nothing for their repute.
Elsewhere, a few buildings are empty in the face of structural cracking and safety concerns. But the main new look is the profusion of bucket cranes with glaziers atop them, replacing broken windows. I thought I’d share a few images I took. I used my phone, so they’re not quite up to SLR standard. But hey…
Apart from the parking difficulty, people are philosophical, cheerful – quakes are part of life, sure. But not something to get wound up about. It wasn’t the ‘big one’. And it’s been a useful wake-up call. Next time, we’ll be better prepared.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013