$4.19m Water Reform “Better Off Funding” spread across the Ashburton District

Published: 18 January 2023

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New toilets at Digby Park and money for new footpaths are among Council projects to benefit from $4.19 million received as part of the Three Waters Reform support package (termed Better Off Funding) from the Government.

Seven projects, including $2.3m to help relocate Ashburton’s rail freight hub to Fairton, received funding. The funds do not require Council to change its position on the reforms, which Council continues to actively oppose in their current form.

Council applied for and has been given funds for the following projects:

  • $2.3m for Fairfield Freight Hub – to help fund the relocation of the rail freight yard from the Ashburton town centre to a purpose-built facility at Fairton
  • $900,000 for additional new footpaths
  • $200,000 for urgent repairs to five playgrounds
  • $250,000 for Digby Park toilets
  • $190,000 for equipment in specialist spaces in the new Ashburton Public Library and Civic Centre
  • $200,000 for changing rooms at the Rakaia and Hinds swimming pools, water treatment upgrades for all five district pools, and design work for a future upgrade of the Tinwald pool
  • $150,000 to relocate the South African War Memorial from Baring Square East to Baring Square West, as part of a major redevelopment of Baring Square East

Business Support Group Manager Leanne Macdonald said the various projects were now being advanced by staff.

“The projects had to meet certain criteria to qualify for funding, like being infrastructure that improves community wellbeing, or enabling growth, or supporting a move to a sustainable or low emissions economy.

“We will certainly put the funds to good use and these are projects that were outside our annual and long term plans.

“For example, significantly reduced Waka Kotahi funding for Low Cost Low Risk projects over recent years means we have not been able to do as many new footpaths as we would like, but now we will be able to do this around the perimeters of Ashburton, Methven and Rakaia where there has been rapid urban growth.

“There are also some much-needed repairs at playgrounds in Methven, Mt Somers and Rakaia Huts.”

New toilets at Digby Park were asked for by the community during consultation on recent long-term and annual plans, and on the Play, Active Recreation and Sport Strategy.

The projects were all approved by the Department of Internal Affairs, which will monitor their progress and manage funding.

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