It was disappointing to read the IBRA Chair's report for the upcoming AGM and realise it contains a number of factual errors and mis-representations regarding the current WCC consultation on The Parade Upgrade.
The worst of these is the IBRA committee's continued and unapologetic assertion that "the majority of Island Bay businesses and residents don't support the cycleway" which is something they cannot possibly know and almost certainly isn't actually true. The problem is that all of the surveys and consultations they are basing their conclusions on have been self-selecting and non-random and it is one of the most basic laws of maths that you cannot then use the results to draw conclusions about the wider population.
"No matter how large a sample is, if it’s based on non-random methods, the results will not represent the population that the researcher wants to draw conclusions about"
Professor Deborah J. Rumsey, Statistics for Dummies, 2nd edition
I've already written about this many times in the past. In 2016 I noted that the vast majority of Island Bay residents hadn't participated in IBRA's infamous survey (about 75% of the total population and 65% of the adult population didn't respond) and that all the survey definitively established is that around 1,500 people were opposed to a kerbside cycleway (about 20% of the total population).
In 2017 I pointed out once again that the vast majority of Island Bay (76%) didn't participate in the the council's consultation on the options derived from Love the Bay and that all that was definitively established was that 59% of respondents (around 1,100 people or 14% of the total population) had expressed a general preference for a roadside cycleway.
In 2018 I wrote that there was actually a clear trend across IBRA's 2016 survey, WCC's 2017 consultation and the 2018 Southern Ward by-election that about 1,500 people, representing 20% of the population, were opposed to the cycleway but no evidence that the number was any bigger than that. In fact, it seemed implausible that the true number opposed could be any bigger than that because it would imply that there were more people opposed to the cycleway who were not participating in the various surveys, consultations and elections than who were, which just isn't credible.
Looking at the latest WCC consultation results suggests that opposition to the cycleway has fallen even further in the past few years. Because this was another self-selecting, non-random consultation the only conclusions that can be drawn that are accurate are that 1,209 people responded and 67% of those are from Island Bay. That's 800 people in a suburb of over 7,000 so around 11% participation - a very significant drop from previous years. The vast majority of people living in Island Bay did not participate despite the wide distribution of flyers (one of which contained a significant factual error) and numerous Facebook posts encouraging them to do so. Even if we assume that 90% of those 800 people are opposed or strongly opposed to the changes (which won't be the case but WCC will get the actual breakdown when they analyse the results) all that has been established is that there are approximately 700 people in Island Bay who are opposed to the cycleway and motivated enough to say so. That's another huge drop from previous years and represents only around 10% of the total population.
IBRA's continued insistence that they are "supporting the majority view" doesn't even reach the standard that would be expected of an NCEA Level 1 maths student. It also highlights why some of the Notices of Motion to be voted on at the AGM are important. I've suggested how you should vote on the various motions here but the ones that are particularly relevant to this issue are:
1. That any submissions IBRA makes will only represent the majority view of Island Bay residents.
Vote against this. As explained above IBRA's determination to over-state "the majority view of Island Bay residents" and exclude other voices has always been a problem. For example, this would potentially mean minimising or excluding disabled, rainbow or tangata whenua concerns from submissions. It's impossible to accurately determine "the majority view" without doing expensive randomised polling anyway. It's also not necessary to do this - a residents association can simply make submissions that reflect the diversity of opinion of its members and leave it at that
5. That the Island Bay Residents Association adopts and states an impartial position on the Island Bay Cycleway and the Parade Upgrade. In recognition of the diversity of views in our community and the divisive nature of these issues, we propose that IBRA leadership supports community diversity, and encourages all members to be kind and care for each other.
Vote for this. I understand that this motion was put forward by some of the church leaders in Island Bay and they're right. It's time to move forward. Voting for this Notice of Motion aligns very nicely with voting against 1 and for 6.
6. That IBRA Committee always undertakes an open and well-publicised consultation with residents and the wider community of Island Bay before making any submissions on our behalf, and document the consultation process undertaken.
Vote for this. This is the counter-point to Notice of Motion 1. The key words here are "on our behalf". I think that in general IBRA should try and avoid making submissions on behalf of the whole community as that is almost impossible to do in a safe and robust way. IBRA should probably stick to consulting its own members and then presenting those results in an open and balanced way to council (or whoever is consulting). That includes recognising minority views
The other significant error in the Chair's report is the statement that "the Council by the chairs casting vote – voted for a $4.0million upgrade which included the removal of between 80-100 parks from The Parade". This simply isn't true. The only casting vote during the discussion of The Parade Upgrade at the Planning & Environment Committee's 10 November 2021 meeting was on an amendment to continue the cycleway through the shops. The substantive motion to approve the short-term safety improvements option (after all the amendments had been agreed) actually passed 11-3. This is all easily verified by simply reading the minutes so it's not clear whether this is just sloppiness by IBRA or a dishonest attempt to make the decision to upgrade The Parade seem like it had less support than it really did. Either way I think it highlights the need to get as many fresh faces on to the committee as possible and we're fortunate that there is an excellent line up of nominees to choose from.