Infrastructure wins and challenges

Published on 25 March 2021

Ann Court (Deputy Mayor)

Occam’s razor is the problem-solving principle that holds that the simplest explanation is usually the right one.

Following public consultation and detailed engineering, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Kaeo bridge project scope has increased in size and cost. As a result, additional funding has been requested from the board of Waka Kotahi and we hope that it will provide the financial go ahead shortly. All resource consents, property agreements, archaeological authorities and wildlife permits have been issued. The impact of the Mangamuka road closure has highlighted the need for increased investment in alternate routes, so we are anticipating a favourable outcome. We will keep you posted.

I recently attended the dawn blessing for the new Bay of Islands Sports Hub at Waipapa and wish to thank everyone who ventured out pre-dawn to attend this very special occasion. This hub will eventually be home to several sporting codes, including football, league, cricket, softball, gymnastics, hockey, and croquet. Provision has also been made for a multi-facility indoor sports arena, a dog exercise area and a children’s playground.

This facility concludes significant investment in kick starting regional sporting hubs. This has seen the new Te Hiku Sports Hub (Kaitaia) recently break ground alongside the revitalization of the Lindvart Park facility in Kaikohe. The full ‘all singing - all dancing’ potential of these facilities will not be 100 per cent ratepayer funded; it is our expectation that the balance of the capital required will be raised by private treaty and applications to external funding providers. This is a big call on our hard-working committees.

Investing in public infrastructure via our capital works programme is relatively straightforward and business as usual for most councils. What is becoming increasing problematic is the ongoing maintenance, operations and renewal costs that have historically fallen to our voluntary community committees. Add rapidly escalating insurance and compliance costs to an increasing focus on health and safety, and our hall committees, cemetery trusts and sporting clubs are finding their ability to manage these facilities no longer sustainable. Increasingly, we are hearing that our committees are struggling to meet the financial and regulatory compliance demands required of them. A conversation is long overdue on how we, as a district, can support – both physically and financially – our wonderful assortment of community-based infrastructure going forward. Inevitably, this is going to require some form of targeted ratepayer-funded assistance and corporate support.