Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.
JOHN CARTER - MAYOR OF THE FAR NORTH DISTRICT OF NEW ZEALAND
Moving forward together
Thursday 4 February 2016
January is a good time to take stock when you're a Mayor. Another calendar year is just behind you and a new year lies ahead. You're also halfway through the local government fiscal year, so are keen to review progress on some of the main capital projects in your Council's Long Term Plan.
I am pleased to report that we are planning to complete or start two flagship projects, which have been years in the making or planning, in 2016. The Twin Coast Cycle Trail - Pou Herenga Tai had effectively stalled before I became the Mayor. We got this project back on track last year by securing agreements from landowners, as well as funding from the Government and Northland Inc. We aim to open all unfinished sections of the 84km trail this year.
We also plan to acquire land for a new Kerikeri wastewater treatment plant after consulting the community about this project last year. Staff are investigating a rural site that offers the best long-term benefits in terms of providing increased treatment capacity, while having the least negative impact on the community. Meanwhile, our commercial company Far North Holdings aims to complete a $13 million, 173-berth extension to the 250-berth Bay of Islands Marina at Opua and begin a major redevelopment of the passenger terminal at Bay of Islands Airport.
Renewing core infrastructure will remain a priority for the Council in 2016. We are developing a business case to support a request for Government funds to strengthen unsealed roads heavily used by logging trucks. We also plan to continue talks with the Te Kao community about affordable options for improving the quality of drinking water a private company supplies to homes. The Ministry of Health declined our application for a subsidy to upgrade the scheme, saying it was unaffordable, so we need to find out how much Te Kao residents are prepared to pay for improvements.
Similarly, we plan to ask households connected to our Omanaia and Rawene water supply if they are happy for us to go ahead with improvements that qualify for a Ministry of Health subsidy, but would still mean higher water rates. We also plan to continue investigating ways of making our water supply at Opononi-Omapere more drought-resilient. The Ministry of Health declined our subsidy application, because there was community opposition to us taking water from Waimamaku River so we need to explore options the community supports.
Improving community facilities also remains a priority for Council. We are installing a new playground at Jaycee Park in Kaitaia this week and aim to complete an upgrade of Remembrance Park in time for the war memorial centenary commemorations in March. We are also close to completing a long overdue upgrade of the rugby grandstand at Lindvart Park in Kaikohe and plan to begin developing sports fields at Moerua Park, Kaitaia, in line with a plan to develop a Te Hiku Sports Hub at the park. This is not an exhaustive list of our capital projects in 2016.
We will report on progress with other projects and outline new projects when we consult the community for our Annual Plan 2016/17.