July 2017 - Chairman's Report

21 Jul 2017, 2:12 PM

Strategic issues

Economic Development

Northland's economy is beginning to pick up speed and this is even before the impact of the $21.5 million Hundertwasser Wairau Maori Arts Centre and the $13.5 million used tyre incineration facility at Portland have come on stream. Both these projects will be getting underway in the next few months and will pick up the pace significantly.

Then in a couple of years' time, the $500 million four laning of State Highway 1 between Whangārei and the Ruakākā roundabout is scheduled to begin. This project will be the biggest individual project ever in Northland.

Getting central government support for these major projects over the line would not have been possible without the strong and dedicated collaboration of all of the councils in the Northland region, the private sector and the community.

Long Term Plan

The Northland Regional Council has already started work on its new Long Term Plan (LTP) which will be going out for public consultation early in 2018. In that plan, we will be proposing some aspirational targets for many of the improvements in environmental parameters that the community are constantly asking for. (NB: The Long Term Plan is the council's 10 year forward plan).

In the last LTP the community asked us for a trial bus service in the Mid North. So rather than make a decision around the council table whether the community could have a bus service or not, we decided to work out what it would cost to run a service using a targeted rate across the area of benefit, then we went back to the community
and said, "this is what it will cost for the service that you have asked for, now do you still want it?" The community said yes, and so it went ahead!

Our current thinking is to use a similar model for the funding of environmental improvements. The process that we are considering using will be for us to cost the proposed improvements separately and then ask you which ones you want to pay for, which ones you don't, or do you want us to include them all?

You can see that the success of this model will depend very heavily on community input. So even at this early stage I want to encourage you all to prepare yourselves to get actively involved in the consultation process and let us know what you think.

Bill Shepherd
Chairman, Northland Regional Council