Archive for February, 2010

Rates in Woodend – and Oxford and Rangiora

28 February 2010

A friend has sent me an email which said, amongst other things:

I do not agree with you with negative comments about the present Council.  I believe that Woodend rates increase are lower than Rangiora and Oxford, and that is about time. Major spending is/and has taken place in Oxford and Rangiora in comparison with Woodend, and we were faced with large rate rises in Woodend by the last Council for nothing local in return.

 I think that the present Council has done a magnificent job in containing our rates and starting to redress the imbalance between facilities for Woodend and the rest of the District.

I have responded in this way:

The main reason why rates went up steeply in the last council term in Woodend (and in Kaiapoi, Rangiora, Tuahiwi and Waikuku Beach) was that the new Eastern Districts sewer scheme was built and, of course, rates went up as a consequence.  Woodend did get something in return – better sewage treatment and disposal!  One of the features of sewer rates in this District is that they are not rates-in-the-dollar of land value.  They are paid for by uniform charges, which mean that those paying lower rates originally, get larger percentage increases in their total rates when raised charges are imposed.

 The rates in Rangiora and in Oxford are going up further because new water sources have to be paid for.  I support both of these schemes, so I support the consequent rise in rates.  The problem I have with what has happened is that some candidates at the last election promised to keep rates down, then got elected and then tried to stop or considerably delay decent water supplies for Oxford and Rangiora.  Incidentally, much the same group of councillors is resisting adding to the Woodend Community Centre to the extent that the advisory group wants.

What we are getting now is the spin that rates are going up on average 3.5%.  This is true, and rates increases never hit evenly across the District. I just wish the people who are getting substantially higher increases would be told that it is happening and why.

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Draft Annual Plan Open for Submission

27 February 2010

The Council’s Draft Annual Plan is open for submissions.  Copies can be obtained from service centres and libraries – and can be found on line at http://www.waimakariri.govt.nz/. Submissions close on 26 March.

The Annual Plan outlines the Council’s intentions for the coming July-to-June year: what it wants to spend and how it intends to raise the money to pay for it.

In the news media, it has been suggested that if you want more money spent on something you should also indicate where the Council should spend less to compensate.

Don’t believe a word of it!

It’s our job as councillors to work out how to do that, if we need to – not yours.

The Pool’s Open! (but not for swimming yet)

26 February 2010

The Dudley Park Aquatic Centre is now officially open.  The Prime Minister, who was supposed to do the job, was called back to Wellington urgently but Hon Kate Wilkinson MP did a great job in filling in for him – obviously at short notice.

The longest and loudest applause was, however, given to Pool Committee chair Joan Ward in recognition of the huge community effort that has gone into both the fundraising and the earlier political effort to turn around the determination of most councillors to delay and scale back the project.

What we have now is a wide 25m pool, with each lane wide enough for lap swimmers to go up and down within it, a great learners’ pool, and, a first for the District, a leisure pool (pictured at right).

The pool is not quite ready.  The main task is make sure the balance of chemicals, etc in the water is right.

It is expected that it will be open to the public around 13 March, although a couple of primary schools will have their sports there before that.

Arts in Oxford Officially Open

26 February 2010

The Prime Minister couldn’t make it at the last minute, but Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, Chris Finlayson did a good job of opening the first stage of Oxford’s new art gallery yesterday.

A large crowd of locals from all over the District, but particularly from the Oxford area, were impressed by the new building and its first exhibition.  It is clear that this initiative not only has the support of the geographic Oxford community, but also of the arts community across New Zealand with nationally-renowned artists like Philip Trustrum on display.

A tremendous amount of credit goes to the Trust behind the venture, under the leadership of Dan Gordon and Brent Firkin – but it is also clear that there has been great support to the Trust from the wider community.

The gallery incorporates a retail area to help support it financially. The second stage will include space for artists to work, i.e. artists in residence, which also add to the “experience”.  As an arts educator himself, Brent Firkin (who heads Art at Oxford area School) sees the educative value of the venture as very important.

At yesterday’s opening, quite a few works were sold, and a number auctioned, with Richard Peter of Bayley’s doing the work.  You can see Richard at work in the picture to the right.

The Pool is About to Happen!

24 February 2010

It has been a struggle, but the Waimakariri District is about to get its new Dudley Park Pool.

Several years of to-ing and fro-ing culminated in a decision in the previous Council term to build a new one.

Council elections in 2007 brought a majority of councillors who initially decided to re-open the old pool and delay building the new one.  Councillors Robbie Brine, Kevin Felstead and Dan Gordon – and I – were the minority who wanted to get going on it.

Cold facts and the weight of public opinion changed the Council’s mind.  In the end, all but one voted to get on with the job.  The pity was that this had delayed the start of fund-raising and by then the recession had started to bite.

Nevertheless, a Pool Committee team led by Joan Ward and with Jim Gerard leading the major fundraising and Nikki Luisetti the community fundraising, has done a magnificent job.

Still – we now have a pool and early next month we can all swim in it!

If you want to see a recent history, click on the Dudley Park Aquatic Centre file under categories to the right of your screen.

Public Transport Directions – Sydney, too, is arguing

20 February 2010

Those of us who have visited Sydney may have been impressed by the public transport system: ferries criss-crossing that magnificent harbour, frequent trains and buses – even a limited light-rail service.  But despite these services, parts of the city are often clogged by cars.  There have been something like six reports trying to find a solution to what they see as a worsening problem.  They are trying to get the right mix of heavy rail, light rail and buses – along with a “metro” – a service something between heavy and light rail largely running underground.

The latest report, commissioned, I htink, by the Sydney Morning Herald, a sister-publication of the Christchurch Press, is just out.  It advocates a different approach from what the NSW state government is planning.

Obviously, Sydney with its 4 million-plus population is of a scale entirely different from Greater Christchurch.  Nevertheless,  there areclear lessons: it is important to plan for the long-term (the 35-year horizon of the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy is not far enough), be prepared to be flexible as time passes and, as far as is possible, achieve a consensus on the best direction. 

It’s not only about commuters …

17 February 2010

In the projected upgrading of the road links into and around Christchurch, we need to remember that it’s not only about commuters.

Waimakariri’s farms and other businesses depend on good links to suppliers, distributors and markets.  The trucks have to have good access to the airport, Lyttelton and to areas such as Hornby.

Over such distances, freighting by rail is not an option.

Rangiora Ward Advisory Board Recommends Three New Members

15 February 2010

The Rangiora Ward Advisory Board has two vacancies, brought about by the deaths of Barbara Spurr and Rosina Godfrey.  Three nominations have been received and the Board has asked the Council to vary its policy and appoint all three, given the experience of all three and the fact that there are only a few months before the end of the term.

The three are former Mayor and MP Jim Gerard, former Board Member Lynne Winsloe and a candidate at the last Council election, Greg Miller.

Community Groups Make Waimakariri a Community

13 February 2010

I often think that what makes the sense of community so strong in rural and small-town New Zealand is the huge number of community groups that are found everywhere.

The extent and depth of these groups within the community mean that locals make contacts and friendships that bind out communities together and contribute to a feeling of belonging and a regard for our neighbours that isn’t always found in our cities.

A listing of many of our Waimakariri groups can be found at http://www.waimakariri.govt.nz/community/directory_files/Community_groups.pdf .

Rangiora Town Centre

12 February 2010

If you want to keep abreast of what is happening with the work on the Rangiora Town Centre, go to:

www.rtc2020.co.nz

There are three consultative working parties currently working on this. 

Council Sets Proposed Rates: “Average Rise of 3.5%” means 0.6% for Kaiapoi and 7.5% for Rangiora

9 February 2010

The Council today put its Annual Plan out for consultation.  Watch the news media for when it is available and when submissions close.

You will be told that there is an average rise of 3.5% and this represents a cut in the rate rise from the 6.2% signalled last year in the Ten Year Long Term Plan.  But hang on, this is the same Council that proposed the 6.2%.

The reason for the rise in some areas’ rates are varied.  In Rangiora’s case, it is mainly the cost of the upgraded water scheme that is the cause of it.  Of course, putting a targeted rate on the 5km zone around Dudley Aquatic Centre hasn’t helped the Rangiora ratepayer one bit.

The water scheme is necessary and what is being done is  the best option.  Who I have issue with are those who campaigned at the last election saying that they were going to make rates “affordable” – even although they were told that the water scheme was essential and that the District needed a new pool.

And for the record, I’m not just drawing attention to Rangiora.  “Average 3.5%” means 9.3% in Oxford, 8.8% in Ashley-Sefton, 5.7% in Fernside, and 10% in Summerhill.  In Oxford and Summerhill, new water schemes are the main reason – also signalled before the last election.

Waitangi Day 2010 at Kaiapoi

9 February 2010

The Waka.

 

Students of Kaiapoi High School and Kaiapoi North School perform at the Powhiri.

 

King Arthur III urges Alf's Imperial Army into battle.

Somehow a Viking longship got into it.

Supermarket Wars in Rangiora

7 February 2010

As I think everyone in the town knows, Countdown and Pak n Save are “coming” to Rangiora.

Well, are they?  Not yet – and key decisions have yet to be made. 

Applications for Resource Consent have been made by Woolworths for a Countdown on the Rangiora Fruit and Vege site in Ivory Street, and by Foodstuffs for a Pak n Save on the Rangiora Mazda site in Southbrook Road.

Note that these are applications only.  No decisions have been made.  Resource consent applications can be dealt with in a number of ways and these will be heard in the open at a Council hearing.  Hearings can be heard by councillors or by outside commissioners, or a combination.  These hearings are likely to be heard by commissioners because of the size and complexity of the proposals. A commissioner’s decision becomes the Council’s decision.

Under the Resource Management Act, anyone can make a submission.

In both applications, two of the matters that will have to be considered are traffic and zoning.

  1. Traffic. They are both on the same north-south route.  The Pak n Save site is on Rangiora’s busiest road (up to 15 000 vehicles a day, I believe), with a busy intersection nearby and Mitre 10 Mega over the road.  For the Countdown site, Ivory Street is also very busy, and is narrow.  There is a kohanga reo over the road.
  2. Zoning. The Pak n Save site is zoned Business 2, which does not permit that kind of retailing.  The Countdown site is zoned Residential 2 (like most of Rangiora and Kaiapoi) and has residential properties on both sides.

Those are just two of the issues that will inevitably come up in the hearings.

The Waimakariri Mayoral Race Gets Under Way – Sort Of

7 February 2010

In the New Year, Peter Wakeman announced that he was standing for both the Waimakariri and Christchurch mayoralties.  (He stood unsuccessfully for the Waimakariri mayoralty at the last election.) This was a somewhat early entry into the race, and I have to wonder if Peter considers himself to be a really serious contender.  In my observation (and I’ve done plenty of observing), the Waimakariri mayor’s job needs to be treated as a full-time position – and Christchurch would be even more demanding.

How anyone could be two mayors at once and do the jobs properly beats me.

A lot of people have asked me if I would stand or am standing for the Waimakariri mayoralty.  My answer is, Peter Wakeman notwithstanding,  that  it’s a bit early to make official announcements.

Opening Date for Dudley Pool – This Month!

4 February 2010

The Dudley Park Aquatic Centre, Rangiora, will be opened by Prime Minister John Key on Thursday 25 February.

It will not, however, be open for swimming until into March. While the handover of the pool to the council bey the contractors will happen soon, a period of time has to be taken to make sure that everything about the water is in balance.

Another WAI Exhibition Coming Up

1 February 2010

Another Waikuku Artists Incorporated 2010 Exhibition is coming soon –

Sat-Sun 13-14 February

Waikuku Beach Community Hall

Artists to be featured are on the right.

The Guest Artist this year is Waikari’s Sam Mahon – well-known nationally both as an artist with a quirky sense of humour and as an impassioned defender of the region’s water.

Corners of Waimakariri: Rangiora’s First Post Office

1 February 2010

Although it has had a bit added on to it and has been shifted from its original High Street site, this house in King Street is Rangiora’s “first” Post Office.

It was originally on High Street close to the current site.  Prior to that, postal facilities had been provided in Wilson’s store by the railway line, followed by Blackett’s store, more central on the north side of the street.

It wasn’t, therefore the first post office, but it was the first building dedicated to that purpose.


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