The Whakatāne District Council Long Term Plan (LTP) 2021-31 will go out for public consultation at the end of April, and the key issues and questions are on the Council meeting agenda scheduled this week.
Although there have been delays due to recent trying circumstances, including COVID-19, staff are on track to launch consultation on Friday, 23 April. Mayor Judy Turner says that the LTP, which sets out the Council’s vision, work plan and budget for the following ten years, represents the unique situation the organisation currently faces.
“This LTP is about ensuring we get the basics right, including wastewater, stormwater and drinking water, and delivering existing commitments,” Mayor Turner explains. “We are also experiencing significant growth in our district, in contrast to the long period of a static population, so we need to make some courageous decisions that will ensure our infrastructure is fit-for-purpose well into the future.”
Based on a series of community engagement activities over recent years, a pre-engagement campaign ‘Future in Focus – Arotahi ki Anamata’ was completed in 2020. The feedback received, alongside other information and data, helped set the priorities Council needs to focus on and consequently, informed the LTP 2021-31 development. Mayor Turner says the key issues include water services, transport infrastructure, climate change, waste management and making sure Council is equipped to deliver the outcomes.
“As a Council, we’ve spent considerable time working on a strategy and prioritising what needs to be done,” she says. “To achieve what is required, we must consider a different approach – including how we set rates and manage debt. Rates affordability for our communities is always front of mind, as is making the right investments now to make sure our children and grandchildren don’t inherit crumbling assets.”
Mayor Turner also emphasises the importance of receiving further feedback from the community, so that elected members can consider different viewpoints before making decisions. She explains that the LTP consultation document is not simply a summary of the full LTP, but rather outlines all the key issues and questions the community can comment on.
“I really encourage everyone, not just ratepayers, to get involved in this process – it’s your opportunity to tell us what you think about the things that matter to you most,” Mayor Turner says. “We’ll have a range of different ways you can do this, including face-to-face workshops and events, hardcopy submission forms and of course, through our online portal koreromai.govt.nz. Keep an eye on your letterbox too, as we’ll be delivering a snapshot to everyone, which highlights the main LTP points and more information about how you can get involved.”
Formal consultation will be open from Friday, 23 April to Sunday, 23 May 2021. After submissions have been reviewed, elected members will deliberate before adopting the final LTP later this year.
More information is available at whakatane.govt.nz/ltp.