I booked a flight to Wellington and a Masterton motel. Next minute my smart phone was wishing me a great visit to the Wairarapa … it’s a little unnerving, but companies are not the only ones making increasingly smart use of technology.
Wellington City Council initiatives
Wellington City Council is also embracing technical innovation for the benefit of its citizens. Projects include:
Innovation Officer Sean Audain says these initiatives change the Council’s relationship with citizens and businesses. Good data allows Council to engage more continuously with communities and be more proactive, rather than responding to issues. There are also much greater opportunities for the public to access information collected by the Council, promoting more informed and equal dialogue between members of the community and the Council.
The Council is already collaborating with a number of other agencies. Sean says there are opportunities for the councils in the Wellington region to work together on any really good problem. Examples of collaborations occurring with other agencies include:
The future of council work
What does this emphasis on automation mean for the future of work in a council? It’s highly likely there will be fewer jobs involving manual collection and management of data, as data is handled increasingly efficiently by machines rather than people.
Future council jobs are likely to have a much greater focus on responding to the data. Here are some examples.
Resilience to natural hazards
Wellington’s Smart City approach was a significant advantage when responding to natural hazards such as the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 14 November 2016. As Sean Audain wrote in his 17 May 2017 article, “the following days involved the assessment of over 1600 multilevel commercial and residential buildings, the cordoning of streets, the evacuation of residents from affected properties and the demolition of the more severely damaged buildings”.
The use of 3D technology enabled staff to show decision makers that the cordoning and closure of the entire central business district wasn’t necessary, saving disruption to lives and loss of economic activity. It also enabled high quality information to be provided to the public across council boundaries. Over the longer term, this technology has enabled the recovery team to understand the patterns of earthquake damage.
Thanks to Wellington City Council Innovation Officer Sean Audain for discussing these initiatives with me. For more information about Wellington’s smart city work please contact Sean at email@example.com
Every Easter my mother sends us woolly socks for the South Island winter. In the past we have used them once or twice and then they somehow disappeared into the ecosystem of our house. I knew we had a lot of socks somewhere, but could never find any (especially pairs). So I would just keep buying more, and they would mysteriously go missing too.
Finally I bought a hamper just for socks, with a strict rule that only pairs can go in there. One week into the new regime it’s still full of paired socks that are easy to find. Long may this last!
Infrastructure strategies also need a good internal structure which clearly identifies the most important challenges facing a region over the next 30 years, paired with the proposed solutions (or options) for responding to them.
These strategies need to be easy to find by all council departments, as well as everyone else who has a role in commenting on, aligning with or implementing the proposed approaches. Otherwise there is a risk that a council’s infrastructure strategy will founder like an odd sock at the back of some dusty cupboard, only to be rediscovered every three years when a review is required.
From my personal experience of working on a couple of infrastructure strategies, I know that a huge amount of work goes into creating a coherent, forward thinking, strategy. It seems a real shame to waste that investment in long term thinking by forgetting about it in between reviews.
The Office of the Auditor-General said: “We continue to support the requirement for infrastructure strategies. As a means to focus on the areas where local authorities spend the most, we see infrastructure strategies as an integral part of LTPs. Strong infrastructure strategies give a credible and believable long term view of the issues and opportunities the local authority faces.”
Both the Office of the Auditor-General and the Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM) place a lot of emphasis on telling a story within the strategy.
“An infrastructure strategy (and financial strategy) are more than collections of information. It is the overall synthesis of the information into an overall story that provides the value for the reader.”
As a writer who helps councils to share their information, I wholeheartedly agree with this approach. But for all the people who are expressing their best ideas on how to tackle challenges such as increasing flood risk, ageing populations and networks, affordability, earthquakes, and investment in new infrastructure, I think it would help them to know their infrastructure strategy is going to be central to consequent work by the council and their consultants – whether that is in resource management plans, economic development strategies or asset management plans.
Unfortunately, the 2015 versions of these big picture infrastructure strategies tend to be buried at the back of Long Term Plans which can run to hundreds of pages, or published in the back alleys of websites, only findable if someone knows what they’re looking for.
If we are going to spend time thinking about these big challenges in an integrated way (which we have to do under the LGA 2002), why not make more of an effort to share what we come up with in a more upfront manner by actively promoting the complete infrastructure strategies — and not just the biggest issues that carry through to the LTP consultation document?
 Office of the Auditor-General, Matters Arising from the 2015-25 Local Authority Long Term Plans, page 47
 SOLGM, Dollars and Sense 2018, page 33.
I lived in Hamilton for six years (four at university and two working as a journalist at the Hamilton Press) and I loved my time there. At first I missed the sea (after growing up near Waihi Beach), but I came to appreciate the Waikato River, the Hamilton Gardens and how easy it was to get around on a bike (no hills and much less wind than Waihi!)
The Waikato is rapidly growing in response to Auckland's population pressures and its proximity to that market place. A plan to set the region's course over the next 30 years has recently been released, and is open for submissions until 10 April.
Draft Waikato Plan
The Draft Waikato Plan is a collaboration between local government, Iwi/Maori, central government, the private and community sectors and the Waikato people.
On first glance, it looks like it should create significant efficiencies for councillors and staff in each of the participating councils, and save a lot of time for Iwi, central government agencies and other stakeholders who won't need to make submissions on similar issues in a whole lot of different plans.
Priorities and actions
The Waikato Plan includes these priorities and actions.
Priority 1: Planning for population change
1. Collaborate on a regional development strategy.
2. Identify the regional priorities for service and technical infrastructure.
3. Identify how central government services can be provided to match community need.
Priority 2: Connecting our communities through targeted investment
4. Advocate on behalf of regional transport priorities.
5. Integrate Auckland and Waikato transport networks.
6. Encourage development of a nationally significant cycling and walking experience.
7. Establish a freight and logistics action group.
Priority 3: Partnering with Iwi/Māori
8. Work collaboratively to develop and encourage enduring partnerships that enable Iwi/Māori aspirations to be achieved.
Priority 4: Addressing water allocation and quality
9. Develop the Waikato as a Waters Centre of Excellence.
Priority 5: Advancing regional and economic development
10. Assist in implementing the Waikato Economic Development Strategy (Waikato Means Business).
A Waikato Plan Leadership Group will be responsible for overseeing implementation of the 10 actions listed above. The Group will consist of representatives from:
An Independent Chair will either be appointed from the business/community members or as a separate appointment outside of any committee membership.
Waikato Regional Council will be the administration agency for the initial three-year implementation period. The implementation advice arrangements, contracts and budget administration will be run through Waikato Local Authority Shared Services Ltd, which is a council-controlled organisation.
At first glance, councils and Facebook may not seem like a happy mix. That was certainly the view of the Taxpayers' Union, which recently criticised councils for their spending on Facebook and Linkedin advertising.
So, is Facebook something to leave to family and friends, and small businesses? I don’t think so. There are lots of council topics that are very appealing to people.
Here are some great examples of council Facebook pages from around the country.
Auckland Council spends the most on social media advertising, at $187,870.
The Local Government Magazine (September 2016) reported they “developed a unique and humorous approach that delivered education and entertainment as well as official warnings and significantly increased its social media presence.”
At the time of the award the following for its Facebook page had grown from 800 to 13,400. It now has 18,858 fans! Here’s a link to this page - https://www.facebook.com/WaikatoCivilDefence/
There are lots of videos on the Southland Facebook page profiling the 2016 Southland Community Environment Awards nominees. The most prominent one has 1,700 views, and many of the others have between 2000 and 5000 views.
Here’s a link to the videos section of the Southland page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/environmentsouthland/videos
Types of posts that work well on Facebook
Some of the things that appeal to people on Facebook are:
When Max first came into our lives in January 2014 I wanted to read all about dogs. While I didn't read this book aloud to him, I loved hearing that Waikato District Council has recently launched a 'Dogs in Libraries' programme.
Children can practise reading to a dog, who isn't going to be too critical about a few missed words! I'm sure the dogs will love this experience too. Whenever I'm talking on the phone Max turns up beside me - he seems to like listening in!
Even though it's funny, there is serious intent behind this programme.
"It’s been shown to increase a child’s relaxation while reading because it’s a lot less intimidating than reading to people and it allows children to proceed at their own pace,” says Animal Control Team Leader Megan May.
It is also likely to help children who are not familiar with dogs to be more relaxed when encountering them in public places.
Friends are considering moving from Brisbane to New Zealand, and are weighing up Wellington and Christchurch as their future home. While it’s easy enough to look at job opportunities, house prices and weather reports from afar, there’s still a need to go to a place and ‘sniff the air’ to really know if it’s a place where you feel you can thrive.
Everyone has their own subjective response to a place, but a recent study by KPMG identifies seven principles cities can follow to be more appealing to people, specifically young wealth creators. KPMG describes these as ‘magnet cities’ and includes Christchurch as one of its success stories.
1. Magnet cities attract young wealth creators
This involves choosing an authentic point of attraction. Cities that successfully target particular groups of wealth creators do so because there is a logical link to the city.
One of the niches Christchurch is developing following the earthquakes is to foster expertise in construction methods, and natural hazards. This is one example of diversification of the city’s economy to become a centre for specific research, technical and professional services.
2. Magnet cities undergo constant physical renewal
KPMG notes that many young professionals favour housing in urban cores, or in neighbourhoods that are linked to the urban core by quick and easy public transport. The design and sustainability features of housing is as important as its location – many prefer to live in mixed use neighbourhoods.
Christchurch’s city centre is to be condensed to 40 hectares, with the aim of attracting new residential use as well as businesses.
3. Magnet cities have a definable city identity
Without a clear city identity it is difficult for future residents to clearly understand what a city stands for and whether they are attracted to it.
4. Magnet cities are connected to other cities
If a city is going to attract a new generation of residents, the city must be easy to get in and out of. In particular, young wealth creators who move into a city are likely to travel back and forth more frequently to other places or cities for work and to visit family and friends.
5. Magnet cities cultivate new ideas
All of the case study cities leveraged their academic institutions to bring change to their cities.
Here are some of the actions being taken by Christchurch:
6. Magnet cities are fundraisers
The city councils have played an active role in providing capital and attracting private investment, research grants and public funds. Often the city’s existing assets have been used to attract further investment to transform the city.
7. Magnet cities have strong leaders
The mayors of the cities studied by KPMG all had to cope with criticism and hostility when introducing a new vision for a city and making the necessary changes. They have been relatively inflexible about changes to the future vision for their city once it was agreed, but extremely flexible about the steps they took and who they involved to get there.
For more detail, please see KPMG's Magnet Cities document. The Christchurch Case Study is on pages 88 – 121.
Like many local authorities, Tasman District Council has prepared a Digital Enablement Plan as part of its application to the Government for extended broadband internet access and mobile coverage. One of the aims is to make it possible for people to enjoy visiting or living in the beauty of remote locations while continuing to make a living.
Better broadband and mobile access is critical to making it easier for people to move away from the big centres to rural locations, by ensuring people can continue to telecommute, or find new ways to sell services and products via the Internet.
Tasman's Digital Enablement Plan includes examples of the many ways councils can actively enhance the community’s use of digital infrastructure for social and economic benefits, including:
The Government’s guide to developing a digital enhancement plan is available here.
It's no wonder New Zealand has significant infrastructure challenges, when its population is so sparse in many regions. The Thirty Year New Zealand Infrastructure Plan 2015 includes the following statistics:
2013 population as percentage of national total
Northland - 4%
Auckland - 34%
Waikato - 10%
Bay of Plenty - 6%
Gisborne - 1%
Hawkes Bay - 4%
Taranaki - 3%
Manawatu-Wanganui - 5%
Wellington - 11%
Tasman - 1%
Nelson - 1%
Marlborough - 1%
West Coast - 1%
Canterbury - 13%
Otago - 5%
Southland - 2%
Hamilton’s bold plan to transform into a more vibrant, prosperous city centre builds on what has worked around the world. Along with many other cities, the decline of Hamilton’s central city began in the 1970s. Easier access to cars, the rise of suburban centres with indoor malls and free parking has eroded many central city areas in New Zealand and globally.
Replicating the suburban shopping formula and attempting to compete with surburban malls has been regarded as a failure world wide.
Providing more parking, new physical works and supporting events provide part of the solution but are not enough on their own. Cities that have successfully revived or transformed their central cities have recognised the importance of having a clear and distinct identity.
A significant decision outlined in the Plan is to reduce the size of the business district in its current form – and instead to have three distinct ‘precincts’. This is based on the principle that a central city needs a concentration of people and commercial activity to prosper. Cities that have been successful in transformation and revitalisation have reduced the size of their central city and concentrated activities into well-defined areas with their own identity and character.
Hamilton’s central city footprint is currently significantly larger when compared with cities of a similar size. It is bigger than the new central city area planned for Christchurch.
The three precincts will be
The eleven mayors within the Canterbury region have come together to agree on a whole-of-region economic development strategy. The seven work programmes are:
1. Integrated regional transport planning and infrastructure investment, with a strong focus on multi-modal transport planning and investment.
2. Digital connectivity: extension and uptake of fast broadband in rural areas, with the aim of broadband being available to all rural households and businesses in Canterbury.
3. Freshwater management and irrigation infrastructure. The main target is to ensure all aspects of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy are implemented, including environmental restoration and water infrastructure projects.
4. Value-added production. Projects include identification of opportunities in District Plan reviews to enable sustainable value-added production, as well as sharing of information across the region about innovation and new developments in value-added production.
5. Education and training for a skilled workforce. The targets include every secondary student having a plan to transition them from school to work or further learning (and progress being monitored post-school), and earthquake rebuild workers (especially 18-25 year olds) being upskilled or retrained for their next career.
6. Newcomer and migrant settlement (skilled workers, cohesive communities). Targets to support newcomers and migrants include multi-lingual resources to provide key information, recognised local points of contact, community-led initiatives, and development of an online portal of relevant information.
7. The Regional visitor strategy involves establishment of a Canterbury Regional Tourism Alliance (involving councils, Tourism New Zealand, Christchurch Airport, passenger terminal ports, Ngai Tahu Tourism and other industry partners) to improve the range of available visitor experiences, increase the number and spend of visitors to Canterbury, and to keep visitors in Canterbury (and the South Island) longer.
The Canterbury region is New Zealand's largest region by land area - extending along most of the east coast of the South Island, from Kaikoura to Waitaki. It is also New Zealand's second largest region in terms of population. The Canterbury Regional Economic Development Strategy is available here: http://ecan.govt.nz/publications/General/CREDS-2015-08.pdf
The ‘Waikato Means Business’ economic development strategy is a finalist in the Local Government New Zealand EXCELLENCE awards, with winners to be announced at the LGNZ conference in Rotorua, from 19-21 July 2015.
The project has been recognised for its collaborative approach. Representatives from iwi, councils, industry and the University of Waikato were involved in its development, with significant industries to be involved in the implementation phase, including Wintec, Fonterra and the Gallagher Group.
The ‘Waikato Means Business’ discussion paper identifies natural resource and labour supply constraints as key challenges to be addressed to improve standards of living in the Waikato region.
The discussion paper identifies the following challenges for the region.
(i) Skill constraints
There is a need to improve the levels of education achievement and skills in the region, and to address the high proportion of youth not in employment, education or training (18% compared to 12% in NZ as a whole). Several Waikato employers have reported they have difficulty attracting, developing and retaining people.
(ii) Environmental limits
Water quality and quantity are both significant issues for the region. Soil quality is also under threat due to subdivision and intensification of land use. Recognising these constraints, growth in existing primary industries needs to come from increasing the value of processed products (manufacturing) and services.
(iii) Perceptions of the business environment and support for innovation
Businesses in the Waikato have identified areas where the regulatory environment could be improved, including improving consistency in consent processing across councils, and pooling of capability when significant developments are being assessed.
In some industries, such as agri-technology and manufacturing, there is potential for research, education and support organisations to do more to help businesses solve their technical issues and be more innovative.
Potential flagship initiatives:
The Council is proposing the development of an international standard convention centre with 750 person (seated) capacity at Lakeview. The convention centre will attract business tourists who tend to stay longer than other visitors and spend significantly more each day.
Reducing private vehicle movements
The district’s population growth and national and international reputation as a visitor destination are putting pressure on the roading network. Several pinch points are occurring around Frankton as well as in central Queenstown.
Modelling shows that by reducing by 20 percent the number of private vehicle movements in and out of central Queenstown each day: the town centre will be a more pleasant and better business environment; peak congestion will be eased; and the need for significant expenditure on roading will be deferred beyond 2025.
The draft Transport Strategy for the Queenstown Town Centre is based on encouraging commuters and visitors to choose alternative means of transport to private vehicles and rental cars to make the journey into central Queenstown.
This would be achieved through a combination of activities:
Standardising rates for water and wastewater
The charges for water and wastewater services vary considerably and smaller schemes tend to cost more per ratepayer than the larger urban schemes.
The Council proposes to group all the direct operating costs for the schemes within a ward and divide them across all the ratepayers serviced by the scheme in that ward.
There would be an overall transfer of costs from the smaller schemes to the larger ones. Ratepayers in Luggate, Lake Hayes and Glenorchy would all benefit significantly. This is largely at the expense of ratepayers in Arrowtown and Wanaka.
Queenstown Lakes District statistics
Queenstown is experiencing continued population growth, both in terms of residents and visitor numbers, as outlined below:
By 2025 the district is expected to have an average population of 57,000 and a peak population of 115,500.
The Council also has a vigorous debt reduction strategy, and predicted levels of debt have fallen from $393 million (in the 2009 LTP) to $134 million in the 2015 LTP.
Information source: The information in this article is from the Queenstown Lakes District Council 10 Year Plan 2015-2025 Consultation Document.
Southland District Council
Southland’s population is spread across many small towns. Approximately 29,613 people live in an area of 30,198 square kilometres, with 5,000 kilometres of roads.
Both the infrastructure and the populations of these small towns is ageing, and people are facing an increasingly tough financial environment.
Provision of infrastructure is the biggest challenge the Council and its ratepayers face. Current expenditure proportions are 51% on roads and footpaths, 7% on wastewater, 6% on water supply, 4% on solid waste and 1% on stormwater. This represents 69% of all expenditure.
The current model for sharing costs between land use sectors tries to measure tonnage moved across the district’s roads. Council has investigated other ways of sharing the cost of maintaining these roads and is proposing a model which has three components:
Information about infrastructure
The Council is planning to invest in improved information on assets’ condition and performance, in order to push out asset renewals as much as possible.
Stage One of the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail was opened in November 2014. This stage was mostly funded by the Government as part of the Prime Minister’s Quick Start project and cost $4.58 million to complete.
Stage Two (from Mossburn to Walter Peak) is now underway. This stage is projected to cost $4.77 million and has been underwritten by the Council. The trail is expected to offer considerable long term benefits to the communities and should be fully completed by December 2015.
Invercargill City Council
As in Southland, Invercargill’s population is ageing. The proportion of the community that is aged over 65 will increase from 16% in 2013 to 25% in 2033.
Invercargill’s issues include the need to improve air quality, ageing infrastructure and drinking water security.
A high percentage of the stormwater network, and the oldest parts of the sewerage network, are more than 100 years old. This is the assumed economic life of both types of pipes. The Council plans to improve the quality of its data on infrastructure, recognising that it is difficult to accurately assess the condition of the Council’s underground utilities.
Environment Southland is putting rules in place that will improve air quality in the Invercargill airshed. This will mean that households will need to move to more efficient and cleaner forms of heating. However (given the climate!) the Council needs to ensure that its residents do not suffer in winter if they can no longer heat their homes with coal or wood.
Council and Environment Southland will each contribute $500,000 per annum to a pool of loan funds for a three-year trial period. People who take up the home heating assistance programme would be obliged to repay the loan via regular repayments. These repayments would then be added to the loan pool, allowing other people to participate.
Drinking water security
Invercargill has only one source of drinking water, the Oreti River at Branxlhome. Should this be disrupted, the City would be left with only two and a half days’ supply of water. The Council would like to have an alternative source as a back up for emergencies but the estimated $10 million cost is not affordable on top of increased expenditure on more critical infrastructure renewals.
Information sources: The information in this article was sourced from the Long Term Plans published by Southland District Council and Invercargill District Council.
The Timaru and Waitaki districts are both benefiting from irrigation and dairy conversions. Both also face issues related to roads, with the costs of maintaining roads through large geographical areas being met by a relatively small number of ratepayers.
In the Timaru District Council area the value of farming land increased by 41.9% between 2011 and 2014. During the same time, the value of residential land increased by 10.6%. The Council is proposing to adjust its approach to rating to ensure a greater proportion of rates is paid by the primary sector. The reasons for this are:
Both the quality and quantity of stormwater are upcoming challenges for the Timaru District. The new requirements under the proposed Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRPP) will require treatment of stormwater prior to sending it to waterways or the ocean. Stormwater Management Plans will be developed with the aim of improving the quality of stormwater discharges by 2025. Treatment techniques are likely to include the installation of rain gardens, swales, permeable paving and ponds.
An increase in the frequency of high intensity rainfall in the District is likely as a result of climate change. Council plans to upgrade the stormwater network assets over the next 30 years to reduce the flooding risks.
Further land use change and industry growth may have major impacts in terms of water supply infrastructure and the quantity of water required.
Further south, Waitaki District Council (based in Oamaru) also reports that the area has benefited from irrigation over the past 10 years through the growth of jobs and businesses, especially in its rural communities. The North Otago Irrigation Company has added around 270 jobs to the district and about $48 million to the local economy for each year.
The Council’s preferred option to grow the economy is to support existing ventures, continuing to give financial assistance to the North Otago Irrigation Company, Tourism Waitaki, the Alps2Ocean Cycle Trail and a proposed retirement village in Oamaru. It also intends to create a fund to support new initiatives.
In addition to investing in infrastructure to keep the Alps2Ocean Cycle Trail operating well, the Council is also planning to provide some seed funding for a new coastal cycleway from Oamaru to Palmerston.
The Waitaki District has an ageing population on fixed incomes. Recognising that a large proportion of the population is over 65 years and on fixed incomes, the Council proposes to limit rates increases on an average Oamaru home to no more than 10% of national superannuation for a married couple.
The three districts neighbouring Christchurch – Waimakariri, Selwyn and Ashburton - are all growing, both in terms of their populations and economies. The LTP consultation documents of these three councils provide an interesting snapshot of what’s going on in mid-Canterbury, and are the information sources for the notes that follow.
Waimakariri District Council (north of Christchurch)
Waimakariri has been one of the fastest growing districts in the country over the past 30 years. In just under 30 years, the District’s population has more than doubled from 25,811 in 1986 to approximately 55,000 in 2015.
Growth has accelerated since 2001, with 17,100 new residents, including rapid growth since the 2010 earthquakes.
In the past 20 years most of the growth has occurred in Rangiora, Kaiapoi and Woodend, and in the new town of Pegasus. There has also been considerable rural residential development.
The Council expects the population to grow to about 63,000 by 2025. For the next 30 years residential growth is expected to occur predominantly in the west of Rangiora, in north Woodend, the remainder of Pegasus, and to the north and west of Kaiapoi, with several smaller rural residential developments in the eastern part of the district.
About 45% of people who live in the district work outside the district. One of the major issues facing the district’s commuters is traffic congestion on the Northern Motorway.
The Council plans to build park and ride facilities at strategic locations to enable commuters to safely park their vehicles then catch public transport into Christchurch City.
After the Canterbury Earthquakes
There are between 60 and 80 hectares of Red Zone land that may be available for community use. The Council has allocated $6.76 million over eight years for the restoration of Red Zone areas for future recreational, business or environmental use.
There is also an ongoing, significant programme of works including $20-$25 million for infrastructure repairs and $2.5 million for Kaiapoi River enhancement and wharf repairs.
The probabilities of a significant local earthquake or alpine fault earthquake in the next 30 years have been considered, and the Council will ensure it retains enough borrowing capacity to fund the recovery from such an event.
High rainfall events in June 2013 and June 2014 resulted in widespread flooding in the district.
The Council spent $4 million in response to the June 2014 floods, with a further $16.09 million to be spent on flood mitigation works over the next 10 years.
A three-bin kerbside refuse collection service is proposed, at a standard cost of $335 per household. It includes an organic waste collection service.
The vast majority of the Council’s infrastructure has been laid since 1985, which means that it is not due for replacement until after 2050. The Council’s main focus for the next 30 years is on catering for growth and meeting increasing community expectations regarding the standard of services.
Selwyn District Council (west of Christchurch)
Population and economic growth
Selwyn district is booming. For the past seven years Selwyn has recorded the fastest population increase of any New Zealand territorial authority. The district has also had the strongest economic growth in New Zealand for the past two years.
Selwyn’s population of 50,000 in 2015 is expected to increase to 67,000 by 2025. Since the Canterbury earthquakes, former Christchurch residents have moved to townships close to Christchurch such as Rolleston, Lincoln, Prebbleton and West Melton.
Currently the district has a relatively high proportion of children and a lower proportion of older people compared with the rest of New Zealand, but the proportion of people aged 65 and over is forecast to rise in the future.
Planning for growth
One of the most important elements in Selwyn’s future prosperity will be ensuring that Rolleston, as the district’s largest town, continues to be seen as a desirable place to live, work and play. As part of the Rolleston Town Centre Masterplan, a central shopping area is planned for Rolleston.
Area plans will be developed for Malvern and Ellesmere in 2015, which will look at where shops, businesses and community facilities could be located in future.
The Izone Southern Business Hub is being developed by the Council. It is a 190 hectare industrial park in Rolleston. The primary goal is to provide employment within the district, and a secondary goal is to provide a financial return to the Council.
Rolleston’s industrial area will become increasingly important as both an employment and economic centre for the district, as produce and products from other areas in Selwyn are transported to and from this area.
New rating approach
The Council is proposing to spread costs across the district for providing services, rather than using targeted rates for different areas. The Council considers that Selwyn should be seen as one integrated district rather than a series of detached townships. That means where residents receive a similar level of service for key infrastructure, the cost to residents should also be consistent.
In the case of water and wastewater, this proposal will help keep these services affordable for smaller, rural communities, particularly when changes to legislation require upgrades to a number of smaller water and wastewater supplies.
If improvements are not affordable for rural communities there is a continuing risk that water contamination may occur from time to time, and boil-water notices would need to be issued for some rural schemes.
The Council also proposes to apply this ‘one district’ approach to providing and operating community centres and recreation reserves throughout the whole of Selwyn.
Vehicles now travel over 300 million kilometres a year on Selwyn roads, an 80% increase since 2001.
Commuter traffic is also increasing. Between 2006 and 2013 the number of people commuting to work in Christchurch from Selwyn increased by 44%.
The opening of the Christchurch Southern Motorway extension is likely to change travel patterns across the district. Stage 2 of the Christchurch Southern Motorway will reduce travel times between Selwyn and Christchurch. It is likely to take less than 15 minutes to get from central Christchurch to Rolleston.
Traffic volumes between Rolleston and Christchurch are expected to increase significantly over the next 10 years. About 20,000 vehicles currently travel on this state highway each day, and this is expected to increase to 30,000 vehicles per day by 2030.
Freight volumes are expected to almost double over the next 30 years. This includes road use by heavier vehicles associated with construction and farming activities.
The Council plans to provide a network of safe, off-road cycleways alongside Selwyn’s increasingly busy roads. This will connect the main townships together, particularly in eastern Selwyn.
Ashburton District Council (south of Christchurch)
Growing populationAshburton is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing rural districts, with a population increase of 22% since 2001.
The recent growth has occurred in both urban and rural areas and is considered to have been driven primarily by strong growth in the local rural economy.
Currently the population is 32,800, and this is likely to rise to 35,185 people by 2026.
Economically, Ashburton’s population has done very well over the last few years – with a gross domestic profit (GDP) of $1,640 million in the year to March 2013, up 4.2% on the previous year. New Zealand’s GDP increased by 2.6% over the same period.
With the rebuild of Christchurch speeding up, Ashburton may see a reduction in the number of overnight guests as more visitor accommodation is built in Christchurch.
Ashburton district is predominantly agricultural with an economy dependent on irrigation for increasing on-farm productivity.
Increasing regulation such as ECan’s proposed Land and Water Regional Plan (L&RWP) has introduced constraints on water availability and limitations on nutrient discharges.
There is a need to reduce stock water sourced from the Ashburton River system by 2023.
Council has provided a stock water service for over 150 years, through a 2,583km long open race network. Council is presently considering options, costs and implications for potentially closing the stock water race schemes in favour of alternative water supplies. Council is in discussions with irrigation providers to service some of the current users of the stock water race through piped irrigation on a user pays basis.
Change to a wheelie bin service for recycling
In 2014, Council surveyed residents on their preferences regarding rubbish and recycling collection options. More than 2000 people responded, with 83% indicating they would prefer a wheelie bin service. This will be provided throughout the district, paid for by a $216 rating charge per property.
There is significant pressure on roads, as a result of land use changes and the subsequent increase in heavy traffic. The Council will continue to prioritise works on the district’s major roads, while accepting some smaller, less well used roads will decline in quality.
Treated Ashburton wastewater is irrigated on to a constructed wetland called Ocean Farm, which then produces grass for sale. The wetland is also increasing the biodiversity of the area.