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.