Archive for the ‘Rural’ Category

Oxford Future Farmers

12 March 2015

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Swannanoa Country Fair Pulls in the Crowds!

3 March 2015

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A very warm summer’s day brought out the  crowds for the Swannanoa Country Fair today. This is the local school’s major fund-raiser and a lot of preparatory work is put on by the community, and more work on the day, to ensure its success.

The Future of ECan

7 January 2014

On New Year’s Day there was an article in The Press on the future of Environment Canterbury, currently governed by Government-appointed commissioners.  I was quoted with a couple of lines from an interview that went for about ten minutes.

I strongly support a return to a fully-elected Canterbury Regional Council (ECan) but it seems to me that a mixture of elected (the majority) and appointed ECan members could be a way to go for the 2016 elections before getting back to a fully elected body in 2019.  I haven’t been a member of Amnesty International for 35 years to not believe in democratic rights.

People need to realise that of the current Canterbury mayors, only one (Kelvin Coe of Selwyn) was a mayor at the time the commissioners were put into Ecan in 2010.  There is now a very different group of people in place.

One problem that ECan has always had to deal with is that the major part of their work (water and land)  actually happens in rural areas and affects farmers in particular.  Individually, farmers pay substantial rates to ECan, although the total rates paid into Ecan mainly come from the urban area of Christchurch – it’s just that Christchurch has so many ratepayers, each paying a relatively small amount.  That also means that the voting power lies with Christchurch. In my observation, most of the opposition to the insertion of commissioners came from urban voters, because of the loss of democracy, and most of the support came from rural voters, because they felt that they had been having little say in how their rates were being spent.

I think the model of the Water Zone Committees, which are community committees jointly appointed by ECan and the relevant District councils (we have just one in Waimakariri, covering the whole District) has possibilities for the future.  These bring together farming, environmental and recreational interests and so far they are working well. If that model works, the greater voting power of urban Christchurch shouldn’t be an issue.

Minister Adams came to the last Canterbury Mayoral Forum and didn’t indicate any Government preferences.  It is entirely possible that the Government does not yet have a view, because she came to ask questions, not to tell us anything.  What is different from 2010, is that I will be doing my level best to make this discussion a public one that all Canterbury people have access to.

Despite what was said in the same article, I don’t detect a desire on the part of the mayors to do away with ECan.  Christchurch has long argued that they want to be a unitary authority, but I haven’t heard Lianne express a view herself.  Some of the other councils are arguably big enough to be unitary authorities (Waimakariri, Selwyn, Timaru, Ashburton) but others (Kaikoura, Hurunui, Mackenzie, Waimate, Waitaki) are probably not.  Talking about unitary authorities thus leads to a discussion about amalgamations, which I don’t think many in Canterbury want.  I certainly don’t.  There is the other problem that water is Canterbury’s big issue but the main rivers (Waimakariri, Rakaia, Rangitata, Waitaki) are all, for good community-of-interest reasons, District boundaries. Unitary authorities based on current boundaries would have trouble dealing with the rivers consistently.

One significant ECan function that could be dealt with at a District/City level is public transport.  Timaru is stand-alone anyway, and our main concern with the Christchurch system would be to make sure that Waimakariri and Selwyn have a proper say.

The issues are therefore Canterbury issues, not just Christchurch or even “Greater” Christchurch.

Baynons Brake a Welcome New Recreational Facility

2 October 2013

130921 Baynons Brake Riding Trails (300x225)Baynons Brake is a series of horse riding trails that have been established by Environment Canterbury Regional Council on the northern Waimakariri river banks in the Clarkville area.

They are part of the Waimakariri River Park and have tidied up and given purpose to an area that had been misused in the past by hoons in 4-wheel drives and the like.

Space has been put side for parking horse floats and fencing has been put in.

The area includes the stopbank in places and signposted trails that give riders a variety of choices in the area between the stopbank and the river.

The facility was recently opened (in the rain!) despite the fact that the recent storm had done a lot of damage.

Well done to David Owen and the crew at ECan!

A Letter About the Ashley Bridge and My Reply

22 June 2013

Dear David,

After the disaster of the first day when the bridge closed, traffic levels have eased off somewhat, meaning that my trip to school does not take so long. This has been helped by (a) presence of Mr. Plod and (b) people now knowing distances and times to get to work (c) lots choosing not to go to work today!
 
However, my concerns about the Cones Road bridge have not abated. Council has known for years that the bridge was at the end of its life span. I find it hard to believe that they sat around waiting for government subsidies to kick in!
 
Around 1990/91 it appears that the ‘state highway’ appellation was removed and re-designated ‘scenic highway.’ Did that affect subsidies? Is this why nothing happened for so long?
 
I have written to my local MP about this issue. I know that nothing will happen (National MP) but it made me feel better. Is there anything that we can do as a group on the north side of the Ashley river to keep this issue in the public eye? Or is the council pressuring the Transit Authority anyway?
 
Realistically speaking I am less inconvenienced than some of my fellow rural residents, but some of my colleagues are facing long commutes to work; this is in addition to their farming duties. Very stressful for them at this time of the year.
 
You say that the bridge qualifies for a 60% subsidy; when, realistically, could that money be apportioned? What is wrong with having a Bailey’s bridge until that bridge is built? Why spend more money on the present bridge? At what point does it become uneconomic to repair? I have lots more questions. I had better stop. Will there be any public meetings to clarify things with ratepayers?
 
Regards,
…………
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
 Hi ……..Thanks for your email.

Yes, you are probably right about the traffic. I sat in my car at the Wyllies Road / Main North Road corner yesterday morning (Friday) to monitor the traffic. I arrived about 3 minutes to 7.00 and left just after 8.30. For almost all of that time the queue varied between 0 and 4, but there were 2 or 3 periods of heavier traffic. The longest queues occurred for 5-10 minutes around 8.15 when they got up to 20-25 vehicles at times. I timed one obvious vehicle as it joined the queue in the distance and it took almost exactly 2 minutes for it to get on to the Main North Road. The other busier periods saw the queue get up to about 12, and these cleared quickly – seconds rather than minutes. The police weren’t there.

However, it was probably not all that typical a day and I agree that quite a few would have stayed home if they were able to. This meant that there were almost certainly fewer coming from Sefton as well as more gaps on the Main North Road.

The Council in my time, which relative to the bridge is since 1986 (the Borough Council was not involved with it) has sought engineering reports on the structure from time to time. The answer that always came back was at least 10 years. This did not mean that in the engineers’ view that it had only had 10 years left or that they they kept changing their minds, its just that the engineers were merely projecting as far as they were prepared to go. It was another way of saying that they found nothing structurally unsound. “Useful life” is a strange concept – the useful life of a house is assessed at 50 years, but we all know there are hundreds of thousands of them older than that and going well.

Probably the main issue that the community and the Council was concerned about was the narrowness and the consequent lack of safety, particularly for cyclists. It was also well known that some pedestrians were walking across the railway bridge and that trucks sometimes stopped to let an oncoming truck through.

The Council received a lot of requests for a pedestrian/cycle clip-on and application had been put in to NZTA for subsidy. It was on their list, but hadn’t got far enough up it. In the event it became unlikely because the new National-led overnment changed its priorities away from pedestrian and cycle facilities and towards roads, particularly major motorway projects, mostly in the North Island. This has also meant that the clip-on on the old Waimakariri bridge, which is supported by both us and Christchurch (it’s on our boundary) is going nowhere. It is also on the regional NZTA list of priorities but is unlikely to gain subsidy unless there is a change of government priorities.

An important change came in 2010 when it was discovered that the river was scouring under one of the piers. The bridge had to be jacked up and the temporary steel support put in place. The other piers were also checked, of course, and it was confirmed that other piers were in place but vulnerable. Note that this is not a problem with the structure per se – it’s with the riverbed and the depth of the piers. Old photos show that the riverbed was much higher when the bridge was built.

None of this was known before 2010. The steps that were taken then were to raise the bridge in NZTA’s priorities. The periodic closures of the bridge in high water helped the case, as did the likelihood that piers would have to be progressively replaced with steel structures. It also helps the case that the detour is long.

I want to emphasise that none of the problem with the depth of the piers and the scouring was known before 2010.

My assumption of what happened on Monday is that the pier was scoured out, and with nothing under it, it simply dropped out. Photos of the bridge under construction show that the steel reinforcing in the top of the piers was designed to hold the deck laterally on to the pier, i.e. to stop it moving sideways. The reinforcing rods are verticle and would not prevent the pier from dropping.

The NZTA programme is a three-year one and we are just entering its second year. The design work that has been approved is under way. We were hacked off that the entire job was not in the programme, but there was a remote hope that the once the design work was done NZTA would have the information they needed and that our project might replace an approved project that wasn’t going to get done.

Once the scouring issue revealed itself, the cycle clip-on project was dropped. We needed a new bridge – now.

So:

  • The problem that is going to get the bridge replaced revealed itself only in 2010.
  • The NZTA programme works in three-year cycles and the latest programme was not approved until 2012 (obviously the previous one was 2009).
  • NZTA say they need more information – the design work, which they are subsidising, will provide that.
  • NZTA’s programmes are heavily driven by government priorities.
  • We are still not guaranteed NZTA subsidy, but it will go the Board in July.

The bridge is the only major project that we have on our books that is not earthquake-related. The Kaiapoi infrastructure rebuild comes mainly out of insurance and government grants. The Kaiapoi Aquatic Centre is largely funded by insurance and grants. We have a grant that will cover about 50% of the Kaiapoi riverbank / wharf etc (a $4m job in total), the rest is from rates. The Kaiapoi Library and Museum, an $11m job, has a an element of insurance in it, but is mostly funded by ratepayers. The Rangiora Town Hall (partly earthquake-related) is totally rates funded, as are Kaiapoi and Rangiora town centres restoration. The latter are not, strictly speaking, earthquake jobs, but are being brought forward to help revitalise the town centres (Kaiapoi has an earthquake element). The Oxford Town Hall will be part strengthening and part rebuild and will cost $2m, all out of rates. Note that we can collect insurance for earthquake damage but not where a building is earthquake-prone.

So, despite the earthquake, we have kept the bridge as a top priority and budgeted for its replacement. However, we really need the $6m or so from the government. I think it is something of an achievement to be able to keep average rates (I stress average) to 5.1% max for the first 3 years and under 4% for the remaining 7 years of the current 10-year plan, given what we are facing. Those percentages include an allowance of about 3% for inflation.

A small point: Cones Road was never State Highway. The original State Highway 72 went from Woodend to Winchester. After it lost its SH status, it was labelled “Route 72” and “Inland Scenic Route”, but this is unofficial and apart from other SHs around Mt Hutt and Geraldine became all local road for the various councils. At some later point it was decided to run the Inland Scenic Route from Rangiora to Amberley, rather than to Woodend – possibly to connect it to Hurunui’s and Kaikoura’s Alpine Pacific Triangle.

You ask how you can help. The voice of the community coming direct from the community can always help. Obviously there are the politicians (the local ones have got the message loud and clear!) such as local MPs on both sides of the river – I get the impression some residents north of the river do not realise they are in the Kaikoura electorate. The Minister of Transport is Gerry Brownlee. The Labour spokesperson is Phil Twiford. I’m not sure about the other parties’ spokespersons. Richard Prosser MP (NZ First) lives in Marshmans Road.

Our next step with NZTA is their July Board meeting. Further information from the design work currently being done, plus the current situation, will be put before that meeting. I don’t know how we will get on, but I would presume they have some emergency funds available. $6m (if that is what it is) is not huge in the national scheme of things, but it means a lot to ratepayers.

With regard to the present bridge, we will have to keep it open until a new one is finished. We could do quite a few repairs like that done in 2010 for way less than the cost of a new bridge, but we wouldn’t want to go there, because, as we all know, the bridge is totally inadequate for modern requirements. The 2010 repair was effected without closing the bridge so I suppose that could happen again over the current months if we encountered more problems. The estimated actual build-time of the new bridge, after preliminary and detailed design work, calling and awarding tenders, etc. is about one year.

Yes, we are considering holding a public meeting or meetings.

I hope this all gives you some background – and thanks for writing to Colin King!

Regards

David

 

The Ashley Bridge at Cones Road, Rangiora – Where to From Here?

20 June 2013

Council Management are in touch with NZTA, who should be considering the bridge next month.

080731-rakahuri-in-flood002

The Ashley in flood, 2008 – taken from the Cones Rd Bridge

In the meantime, design work is continuing and information from that process can be fed into NZTA. They will want to have as clear an idea of costings as possible – and that is dependent on the design adopted. Costs can be influenced by such factors as whether any land needs to be purchased for the approaches and whether the new bridge is built upstream or downstream. The design work, of course, includes the approaches as well as the bridge itself.

The Council has budgeted it’s share – it is in the 2012 Long Term (10 Year) Plan, and re-confirmed in the 2013 Annual Plan finally approved two days ago. It is based on the assumption that design work would be finished this coming financial year (July 2013-June 2014) and that if the bridge was given approval by NZTA that work could start in 2014-15. If NZTA approved earlier funding, the Council is able bring its budget forward.

Big projects like this are funded by loan so that future residents get to help pay for them. This loan has been included in our future debt projections.

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The current bridge over the Ashley being constructed. The first bridge is on the left.

The current bridge will have to be maintained until a new one is built, and this could mean closures when the water reaches critical depths.

The next few weeks will see work being done to put in temporary support in place of the missing pier.  This will, of course, go much deeper than the current piers.

When this work can start properly depends on the river dropping to a point where it can be diverted to allow machinery into the riverbed to do the diversion and to make the repair.  Diversion will also allow a closer look to be undertaken at the remaining piers to see what has happened to them over the last few days.

We Had Weather Today in Waimakariri

20 June 2013

The weather has continued to give Waimakariri District problems.

Today a Civil Defence Sector Post was set up at Fernside School after the Cust River went over its banks. Fortunately, no houses were affected.  A close watch is also being kept on the Dockey Creek, which flows through Fernside. Late this afternoon, the Dockey was OK.

Water has entered a few houses since Monday, for example in western Kaiapoi.

It snowed in the Oxford area and other higher parts of the District today.

 

… More on the Ashley Bridge north of Rangiora – a pier has gone.

19 June 2013

Sometime in the middle of yesterday morning, a pier was washed out from the Cones Road Bridge just to the north of Rangiora. Amazingly, the spans held up by the pier have remained in place.

This is tremendously inconvenient and costly to residents on both sides of the river, as the detour via the State Highway 1 bridge is a long one. It is also very difficult to get on to the State Highway at Wyllies Road – and the Toppings Rd-Wyllies Rd route through Sefton is also prone to icing and surface flooding.

This means that the bridge will remain closed until a temporary fix can be put in place. How long it takes to complete this work (a contractor has already been engaged) will depend on water levels dropping and on whether the two adjacent piers are OK. If it snows later this week, the subsequent melt won’t help with water levels.

It must be emphasised that the problem is with the river scouring under the piers, a problem that was identified about three years ago. At that time a temporary arrangement was put in place to replace a pier that had been scoured out. That temporary job, and  the one weare about to do, have to be done because bridges like this take years to design and build, not months.

The bridge has been closed on occasions since (including on Monday) because of the likelihood of what has happened would happen.

Since then, the Council has been trying very hard to get subsidy from NZTA – see yesterday’s post ….!  Hopefully, today’s event will help concentrate some minds in Wellington.

Ashley Bridge (Rangiora) Closure Today ….

17 June 2013

Today’s Ashley Bridge closure is going to be inconvenient for a lot of people, particularly those north of Rangiora in Loburn, Ashley, etc.

It is caused by the risk to the piles from a higher river level – and we all know we have had a lot of rain in the last day or so.

Design work on a new bridge has started, although the New Zealand Transport Agency has yet to approve funding for the bridge itself.  About 60% of the funding for both the design work and building of the bridge needs to come from NZTA – for a $9m job on current estimates.

People detouring through the Sefton area today will need to watch out for surface flooding there.

Civil Defence Snowstorm Workshops Coming

5 June 2013

This coming Saturday, 8 June 2013, two workshops will be held in the Waimakariri District as part of Exercise Pandora, an annual Civil Defence Exercise which this year simulates a major snowstorm. One workshop will be held at Ant Dale’s  beef and lamb farm at 211 Ashley Gorge Road from 10.00am to 1.00pm and the other at Geoff Sparks’ dairy farm 1018 Harewood Road (Fonterra Marker 37738) from 1.00pm to 3.oopm.

130608 Exercise Pandora

Waimakariri Building Consents for Dwellings Still Running at Record Levels

7 March 2013

The building consents issued for dwellings in January and February are running at similar levels to last year.

WAIMAKARIRI DISTRICT: BUILDING CONSENTS FOR NEW DWELLINGS 2013

So far this year (January – February), 224 dwelling permits have been issued. For the same time last year, 127 were issued – and that was historically high.

Specifically for those two months this year, they were:

  • Kaiapoi 66
  • Rangiora 41
  • Oxford 11
  • Woodend 2
  • Small towns / beaches 4
  • Rural Residential 4 (e.g. Mandeville, Fernside) 28
  • Pegasus 45
  • Rural 27

 

As Always, Swannanoa Country Fair was a Huge Event This Year

4 March 2013

130213 Swannanoa Country Fair 1 (400x300)

The Swannanoa Country Fair is held every year on the Swannanoa Domain and is a find-raiser for the Swannanoa School, which is just over the road. It wasn’t the hottest day of summer, but nevertheless a huge crowd turned up.

On another note, it was good to see the variable speed signs in place for the school, placing a slower speed limit (70km/h) on Tram Road at each end of the school day.

Rangiora A&P Show Once Again Brought Town and Country Together

21 October 2012

A&P shows throughout the country bring country and town together and the Northern A&P Association’s Rangiora Show is a very good example. It helps to remind everyone of the economic interdependence of our towns with the rural economy – and that what is good for the country is good for the towns, and vice versa.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get away from the earthquakes, with the  grandstand off-limits because it has been assessed as earthquake-prone.

And after some ominous weather forecasts earlier in the week, the Show once again happened under a sunny sky on a warm day!

Update: Ashley Bridge (Cones Rd – Rangiora & Loburn / Ashley)

19 August 2012

We should know early next month whether we will get the Government subsidy for a new bridge. If we get it, the subsidy will be about 60% of the total cost of $10 million plus.

The Council has budgeted for its share of design work in 2012-13, with building starting 2013-14.

Corners of Waimakariri: the Horrellville Church

25 March 2012

The older building dates from the 19th Century and is a Category 2 Historic Place.  It is the orginal church, replaced by the 1950s building seen on the left – a scaled-down version of Trinity Methodist Church in Rangiora. The Horrellville church is now part of the Oxford District Union Parish.

Canterbury has lost so much heritage, it is good to see some surviving.

Three Events Yesterday – and the weather finally came right

5 March 2012

There was a bit on yesterday: the Swannanoa School fair, the Kaiapoi and Rangiora Brass Bands performing in Victoria Park Rangiora and the Main Event / Retro Rangiora at MainPower Oval.

Swannanoa School Fair

Swannanoa School Fair

Kaiapoi Brass in Victoria Park

Kaiapoi High School Band at Retro Rangiora

Is Waimakariri Growing?

14 January 2012

It certainly looks like it.

The Sovereign Palms subdivision north of Kaiapoi is moving fast and a lot of interest has been shown in the Silverstream subdivision to the west of that town.  Given that most of those in the Kaiapoi red zones have indicated hat they want to stay in Kaiapoi, this is not surprising.

Local will have noted the houses springing up in the new Horncastle subdivision on the eastern side of Rangiora and in the Arlington subdivision in the north-west.  Pegasus has got going again, too.

Real estate firms are reporting that there is also strong demand for rural life-style blocks, particularly in the Clarkville-Ohoka area and for rural-residential properties in the likes of Mandeville.

This all suggests that many of those who are having to move out of Christchurch are looking north.  Historically, this has been the pattern for some time, but there does seem to be a very strong spile: in November the Council received over 200 applicatons for building consents.  The strongest year that we have had in the past has been on the 600s.

Nearly Three Months On …

1 January 2011

I said I would keep this blog going.  This might have been a foolish promise, but my New Year’s resolution is … you’ve guessed it.

Obviously life has been busy, but since Christmas we have been able to get a bit of a breather.  Earthquake recovery has, of course dominated, and I’ll report on that in another post.  But also what has happened in the last three months has brought home the richness of community life in the Waimakariri District.

Richard and Dawn Spark and Phil and Jo Seal (Gulliver & Tyler Funeral Directors) have built a chapel at Rossburn Receptions that was opened in October by Hon Kate Wilkinson MP.

As well as funerals, the chapel will be used for weddings etc – in conjunction with the reception business the Sparks run.

On the same day, a concert was held to say to the people of Kaiapoi – hey! we’ve been hit by an earthquake but we can still have a good time.

One of the main organisers was Ben Brennan, newly-elected to the Kaiapoi Community Board.

Yes, a chain comes with the job!

The Rangiora A&P Show is always a highlight of the year and numbers weren’t too badly suppressed by the Earthquake Concert in Christchurch at the same time – although teenagers were noticeably absent in Rangiora.

The Kaiapoi Light Party, an annual event put on by local churches, drew a large crowd – especially of kids who were able to try everything out for free.

The Chamber Gallery in Rangiora staged an exhibition by Veronique Moginot who, although she is of French background, put on a show that had a strong Eastern Orthodox flavour.

This proved an ideal setting for Musica Balkanica who performed their Balkan repertoir in the Chamber Gallery in November.

Kaiapoi was the starting point for a group of peeny-farthings which headed for Oamaru via Oxford.  I presume they made it!

Both Kaiapoi and Rangiora High Schools had Road Crash days put on by the Police and Waimakariri Road Safety, with the help of many others, including the Kaiapoi and Rangiora Volunteer Fire Brigades, St Johns Ambulance and Gulliver and Tyler.

The Kaiapoi Christmas Parade seemed to be bigger than ever and drew large crowds – as did the preceding market in Williams Street. A sunny day with everyone in good spirits!

Congratulations to the Kaiapoi Promotion Association.

I’ve been to North Loburn School twice, for an Enviroschools day and for the inauguration  of active warning signs.  They get a lot of trucks going past the school from the Mount Grey forest and from the Whiterock quarry – and while the trucking companies and drivers are working well with the school, safety is always a concern. Pictured is the principal, Simon Green.

Cust is seeing if a market can work for their community – those in places like Oxford, Ohoka, Woodend and Kaiapoi are going well.

Like Kaiapoi, the Rangiora Christmas Parade had a great day.  Here is the crowd in Victoria Park afterwards.

Our Town Rangiora did well.

Oxford, on the other hand, struck a wet day for their Christmas Parade.  Here the the Union Parish take shelter waiting for it to start – fortunately the rain did stop for the parade itself and all went well.

The Oxford Lions again put on a good community day for Oxford.

It was good to have a temporary library open in Kaiapoi – and the Aquatic Centre too.

The launch of the book Our Soldiers at the Rangiora RSA helped further the growing ties between the Waimakariri District and Passchendaele in Belgium.

I’m with the the author Paul O’Connor, Belgian Consul Lieve Bierque and Bill Whitehead, President of the Rangiora RSA. (Photo from the Northern Outlook).

Josh Smith of Kaiapoi received a Young Totara leadership award from the Rotary Club of Rangiora for the leadership and responsibility he showed working in the welfare centre in Kaiapoi after the earthquake.

Corners of Waimakariri: St Matthew’s Anglican Church, Fernside

1 January 2011

Since 1874, St Matthew’s has been a centre for the Fernside community.  It is one of several in the District designed by the notable colonial Church architect, Benjamin Mountfort.  Bishop Harper laid the foundation stone and within 6 months the church had been built and was debt-free, because he was able to return and consecrate it.

The church can be found on the corner of Mount Thomas and Mairaki Roads.

Rural Subdivision: My Position

3 October 2010

The spread of 10-acre (4ha) blocks across the Waimakariri landscape concerns a lot of people, including me.

One needs to remember, however, that the rural economy outside of dairying remains very difficult.  For many farmers, subdivision has become about the only way they can make something out of their land.  We also need to acknowledge that there has been, at least until recently, market demand for these “lifestyle” blocks.

A further defence is that some of these small blocks are actually very productive.

However, their spread has driven up the cost of neighbouring farmland and has swallowed up much of the District’s productive capacity.

Before 4ha became the minimum standard for rural lots in the District Plan, the Resource Management Act made it very difficult to resist subdivision anyway.  The subdivisions usually ended up being granted but with the applicants being put to the extra cost of seeking resource consents.  Before the RMA, subdivision also still happened, but with lawyers and consultants making money out of proving”economic use” of the proposed lots.

I belive that we can help limit the spread of 4ha blocks by making more provision for rural-residential developments where the average size of lots is 0.5 or 1 hectare.  Examples already exist in places like Fernside. Hopefully, this will soak up some of the demand.

Going back to past subdivision standards will be very difficult because once such a move is signalled, a huge amount of hurried subdivision is likely to result.

Compass FM’s Test Transmissions

20 June 2010

From time to time you might hear test transmissions coming 104.9 FM.  At the moment, the North Canterbury Radio Trust is using a low-powered transmitter from its Rangiora studios.  Eventually, when the station is operational, transmissions will be beamed from Mount Grey with repeaters to service areas like Hanmer and Cheviot.

At the moment you will hear just music and the occasional promotional message – and the station only reaches the area around Rangiora. 

Compass FM will be a Community Access station that will transmit the Voices of North Canterbury.

Problem on the Ashley Bridge (Cones Road)

11 June 2010

I was at a meeting that was about to start when a friend (who happens to live in the Waiapara Gorge) came in and said there is a new dip in the Ashley Bridge – the Cones Road one, north of Rangiora.  I rang the Council staff, they went and checked and my friend is right – and, so far, the only motorist to notice. One of the supports near the Rangiora end is settling a bit into the riverbed, mainly on the downstream side.

Staff and consultants are monitoring the bridge.  It is likely that the dip is very recent and while it doesn’t, at this stage, seem that urgent action is required, remedial work is likely to be needed in the future.

This is the Council’s media release.

The Waimakariri District Council yesterday called in consulting engineers to check out the Ashley Bridge following observations of aminor drop in the road surface level.

Consulting engineer Bryan Peters from MWH reported back to the Council yesterday afternoon and confirmed a minor ‘slumping’ of the bridge. This occurrence is typically caused by scouring of the river bed around the piles on which the bridge sits. The phenomenon occurs more particularly following flooding or heavy rain such as has occurred in the District in recent weeks.Mr Peters was confident that safety levels were not significantly compromised by the drop.

Waimakariri District Council Utilities and Roading Manager, Gerard Cleary, says that, following the recommendations of the engineers, safety measures are being put into place which will warn of any further settlement or significant flood flows which could occasion further settlement.

“This bridge was originally built in 1911”, said Mr Cleary, “and is in solid condition for its age. Longer term options and courses of action will be explored once we have received more detailed reports from the engineers”.

 

Water Zone Committees

1 June 2010

The Canterbury Water Management Strategy, which came out of the Mayoral Forum and which was developed by staff from ECan and the various Canterbury councils, has been given legislative backing through the Act which put commissionera in to replace the Canterbury Regional Council (ECan).

Part of the Strategy requires that Zone Committees to be established that will deal with issues around water allocation, conservation, etc.  Each Zone Committee will include an ECan Commissioner, a District/City Councillor, a Ngai Tahu representative and a number of other community reps.  Nominations for the Waimakariri Zone Committee have been called for and a number of public meetings held to explain what is going on.  Meetings have so far been held in Rangiora, Waikuku and Kaiapoi, with one in Oxford yet to be held.

Appointment of community representatives (which need to cover various areas of interest and expertise) for the Waimakariri Zone Committee (which covers the same area as the Waimakariri District) should be made within a few weeks.

This afternoon, the Waimakariri District Council appointed Cr Kevin Felstead as its representative on the Committee.

The Ashley Bridge

28 May 2010

Cones Road Bridge over the Ashley / Rakahuri, north of Rangiora

A friend’s Facebook “wall’ is featuring a bit of conversation on the Ashley Bridge north of Rangiora.  Its width has been a long-standing issue for communities on both sides of the river.  There is not enough space for cyclists – in other words, cars can’t pass them without crossing the centre line, so cyclists cross at their peril.

Some impatient motorists are very unwilling to drive behind cyclists until they get off the bridge.

And then there are pedestrians.

Even for motor traffic, there isn’t much space.  Car drivers can feel intimidated by trucks coming towards them and sometimes trucks have to be very careful passing each other on the bridge.

Another issue is that ECan has long talked about building a new stopbank to the south of the river. Their concern is that the river north of Rangiora is narrower than west or east of the town, which in floods puts pressure on the stopbanks.  If a new southern stopbank were to be build further to the south, and the current one removed, the bridge would not be long enough.  (It is possible that a new stopbank could be a secondary one, in which case the current bank would stay.)

Leaving aside the length question, there are two matters: (1) cyclist and pedestrian safety, which could be improved with a clip-on, and (2) the general width of the bridge.  People also ask about the expected life of the bridge.

The bridge is nearly 100 years old and was designed to be wide enought for two traction engines to pass.  It seems to be structurally sound, so we have to assume that if we wanted it to, it could last for quite along time.

Most of the roading and bridging work carried out by the Council is Government-subsidised through fuel taxes. In Waimakariri, that subsidy is about 50%. Even with those subsidies, roading (including bridges) takes up the biggest chunk of the ratepayer dollar in the Waimakariri District.  To get the subsidy for a specific project, however, depends on the project competing successfully with other projects in the Canterbury Region.

Note that for the old Waimakariri Bridge, the cost of a clip-on would be shared amongst three sources: Government subsidy, Waimakariri District and Christchurch City.

A clip-on for the Ashley is on the Waimakariri District Council programme, but it has lost its Government subsidy.  This is because the current Government, when it came into office, cut the funding for cyclist and pedestrian facilities.  The same thing happened to the proposed Waimakariri Bridge clip-on, which was due to have been done in the next 12 months.

Hint! Hint! For those of you north of the Ashley, you live in the Kaikoura Electorate which is held by National’s Colin King.

That leaves the council with a difficult question: does it fund a clip-on without subsidy, or does it wait for the subsidy to be restored some time in the future?  The cost of a clip-on is significant and to forgo a future subsidy would be a big call.

Building a new bridge would be a major project for a District of this size, and probably would not attract subsidy for quite a few years.

None of this is good news, I’m afraid.

In the meantime, the Council is to investigate the installation of lights which flash when a cyclist is in the bridge.  I presume the cyclist pushes a button as they come on to it and it flashes for a pre-determined length of time. Apparently such a system is in place in Marlborough, so we’ll be looking at the success of that.

More Water …

26 May 2010

Patersons Road, Cust, 26 May 2010

Attempt to Change Uniform Annual General Charge Fails

14 May 2010

The Council is currently making its decsions on the 2010-2011 Annual Plan and Budget.

It had already received strong submissions from the farming community requesting that the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC) be restored from its current $20 to its former $70.  It went down to $20 only last year.

The UAGC is a charge that all properties pay in their rates.  Raising it has the effect of lowering the general rates for high-value properties and raising them for low-value properties.  This sounds like it is unfair on low-value, usuaully urban, properties, but it needs to be remembered that general rates form a much smaller proportion of total rates for urban properties than they do for rural.  A lot of urban rates are for water, sewer, rubbish collection, etc, which rural properties don’t pay (they pay for their own water, etc).

Lowering the UAGC last year meant that many farms had rate rises in the thousands of dollars for no change in service.  Farmers are saying that this is unfair.

Yesterday an attempt to put the uniform charge back to $70 failed by one vote.  Five voted for (Crs Dan Gordon, Kevin Felstead, Peter Farrant, Elaine Cole and myself) and five against.  In the council’s standing orders, a draw means the motion is lost.  The mayor (who opposed) doesn’t have a casting vote.

My personal view is that the rating structure of this district needs a thorough review.  Rates are not a particularly fair way of taxing people, but ours can be more fairly distributed than they are.

Celia Wilson Exhibition at the Chamber Gallery

3 May 2010

Oxford’s Celia Wilson is the latest artist to be featured in the Chamber Gallery in the Rangiora Library.

For the last few years she has been exploring the pigments to be found in the soils (and some of the plants) of Canterbury, including the road where she lives on the outskirts of Oxford.

As she says, … I have deliberately kept gesture and mark making to a minimum when applying the paint.  Then I have allowed the pigment, of its own accord, to diffuse and settle on the paper support.

The exhibition, organised by the Waimakariri Community Arts Council,  lasts until 2 June.

More Input from the Public

29 April 2010

The Council concluded its draft Annual Plan hearings this afternoon.

The themes previously mentioned came out again.  Submisisons ranged from a problem drain in Kaiapoi to more general submisions covering a range of matters from the Kaiapoi Community Board, the Woodend-Ashley and Rangiora Ward Advisory Boards and the Pines-Kairaki Association.

We also had a submision from Te Ngai Tuahuriri regarding the new marae buildings they are to construct at Tuahiwi and from the Kaiapoi Rugby Football Club about a new development they have started.

And that wasn’t all.  As always, a great variety!

The People Speak

28 April 2010

For the past day and a half the Council have been listening to submissions on the this year’s Draft Annual Plan – and we have another session tomorrow.

So far the following trends have emerged:

  • Strong farmer opposition to the low Annual Uniform General Charge and to Land Value as a means of assessing rates.  They support a change to Capital Value Rating.
  • Support from a wide range of individuals and groups for retaining the budget provision of $30,000 to support the new Youth Development Strategy.
  • A strong push from Woodend to upgrade the Community Centre and its surrounding reserve – and the public toilets over the road.
  • A loud-and-clear objection from Rangiora Airfield users about a new range of charges – and a similar complaint about new fees at the Kaiapoi Wharf.
  • And, of course, complaints about the 5km-radius targetted rating zone for the Dudley Park Aquatic Centre.

That’s by no means all, but that gives you an idea!

Water

21 April 2010

It has become a cliche: water is the biggest issue on the Canterbury Plains – and by extension, in the Waimakariri District.  To give you some idea of the nature of the beast, the following stats might be of interest.

One large dairy farm uses more water than a town the size of Kaiapoi or Rangiora.

The Waimakariri District Council is responsible for 7% of the water use in the District (in its various water scemes and stock water) but supplies 61% of the population.

It is apparent from this that water is very important to our farming community.  It also means that the urban and rural communities are going to see water in very different ways.

Let’s hope that we can keep listening to each other.


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