The deterioration of our local environment over recent years is concerning and the projected increase in population is likely to place an even greater burden on this.
How we approach this problem over the next few years is of vital importance.
Rather than just having committee meeting after committee meeting, I want to start seeing some action.
I would also like to promote far more public involvement in the discussion around our local environment.
LOOKING AFTER OUR ELDERLY
Respect for the elderly is the hallmark of any decent society and the Waimakariri District should be no exception.
Decisions that we make as a council and as a community should always be respectful and sensitive to the needs of our elderly community.
When carrying out any kind of town planning, we must work from a principle that never allows elderly to be put in a position where they could become socially disconnected. This means ensuring there are always the appropriate bus routes and bus stops available.
Upholding the dignity of the elderly and maintaining their social connectivity is of the utmost priority for me should you chose me as your next Mayor.
One of the obvious consequences of district growth is busier roads and a more hazardous environment for pedestrians – especially children.
It is not acceptable that district growth has been allowed to accelerate ahead of basic pedestrian safety needs. The town of Woodend for example, despite having a busy highway running through a residential area with shops and recreational parks on either side, has not one safe pedestrian crossing.
Situations such as these have a direct impact on the safety and wellbeing of the community therefore it is my opinion that it is the elected leader of the community who is responsible for solving them.
If elected Mayor I will not be going home from work while issues regarding child safety remain outstanding.
AFTER SCHOOL CARE AND HOLIDAY PROGRAMS
If you’re a parent with school aged children, one of your many challenges will be trying to juggle work commitments alongside looking after your children when they’re not in school. This is likely the most challenging during school holidays as quality and consistent holiday programs are often either too expensive or booked out.
This is an area where I believe the council can provide more support.
As Mayor I will be asking the council to support the introduction of quality after school and holiday programs for all children under the age of 14 within the district. This would be achieved by recruiting and training a pool of vetted volunteers aged 14 to 114 from within the community.
When I worked as the youth development co-ordinator for a local council in the central north island, part of my role was doing exactly this. I ran successful holiday and after school programs on a very small budget that catered for a small town.
This is not an impossible task – if it can be done on a small scale it can be done on a larger scale – with the right amount of community buy-in, vetted volunteers and planning it can easily be achieved with minimal cost.
The role of local government is not to declare ’climate emergencies’ but rather to focus resources and energy into preparing for, and addressing, the actual impact natural disasters, weather events and/or climate change could have in our district.
As Mayor I would be supporting increased funding for Civil Defence as well as more regular training exercises involving all relevant agencies.
We cannot control the occurrence of natural disasters, weather events and/or climate change in our district.
We CAN control how well we are prepared for them.
Despite a projected 25% increase in population over the next 10 years, no substantial roading improvements are planned that would properly address current or future traffic congestion.
Trying to discourage people from using cars or encouraging them to take alternate routes and to avoid busy roads during peak times (the councils current approach) will make little to no difference for the majority of commuters. Let’s not forget that many who commute during peak times are people driving work vehicles – public transport will never be an option for them.
There are planned roading improvements such as a Southbrook Road bypass however these are decades away. Why do we need to wait? If we know we have to build someday then why not sooner rather than later?
As Mayor I support bringing roading projects forward so we are not spending the next 10 years unnecessarily waiting in traffic.
The government is spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on improving the northern corridor – what good will that do for us if our district’s roads can’t keep up?
RATES, DEBT & SPENDING
Rates money should be used for operational expenses only, not excessive council spending, not compulsory fundraising.
I do not intend to change anything the current council already has in place however due to our high debt levels I will not be supporting any future spending unless I consider it an essential operational expense, OR, I am confident it has the support of the ratepayer.
What I will be supporting is exploring options for council investment and/or partnership in private business enterprise for the benefit of the ratepayer (for example forestry or farming) as this is our best chance at decreasing rates and debt levels without having to lower the level of service the council currently provides to our community.
The amount of theft and vandalism incidents in the Waimakariri District is appalling and sadly many of these go unsolved.
Rather than just ‘report suspicious behaviour to police’ – the council’s current approach to crime – I strongly believe the council, together with the community, can do a lot more to help.
I strongly favour the council supporting more community watch groups with funding, training, resources and most importantly – leadership.
I strongly favour the council supporting much more engagement between the community and the NZ Police in order to help solve crime in our district.
Theft and vandalism have a significant detrimental effect on community wellbeing. Thieves and vandals beware! As Mayor I will pursue you relentlessly.