Cr Richard Wilson: Balancing the books for longterm wellbeings

Published: 8 September 2023

The cost of living affects us all, whether it is balancing your household budget, a business forecast or the council’s budget.

Our long term plan is how we prioritise spending when we undertake the four wellbeings: economic, social, cultural and environmental.

So, what is wellbeing?

Social – this refers to people’s basic needs, such as education, health, security and the strength of our community networks.

Economic – this helps drive our economic growth. If we get this right, better jobs and higher economic growth help us to satisfy the other wellbeings – a good example is our north-east Ashburton Business Estate and the new rail hub at Fairton.

Cultural – this is our diverse community and their ability to express and preserve their identities. The building of Te Whare Whakatere and our involvement in Community House and Safer Mid Canterbury are examples of this. Supporting last weekend’s Night Noodle Market is another.

Environmental – this is our natural environment and its ability to sustainably support us, and it covers water, air, land use and pollution.

All these wellbeing things cost lots of money. We are lucky in Ashburton that previous councils have been prudent and have maintained our assets to good levels. However, as society develops, expectations of what is acceptable change … and rightly so, what was okay 20 years ago is not okay today.

Drinking water quality is a good example of this and council has a big work programme to ensure it continues to comply with new national standards. Methven’s new $10m membrane treatment plant means boil water notices will be at thing of the past for that supply and the facility is due to be fully commissioned later this month.

We have just started our work to review the long team plan and went out to the community for some initial feedback that will help us develop a draft long term plan that will go out for consultation early next year.

Due to there only being so much money to go around, we will have the difficult task of deciding what council can and can’t afford. We must all remember that the more we want, the more rates have to increase and so a balance has to be achieved.

Finally, congratulations to Mt Hutt on reaching 50 years, which is a magnificent milestone.

It is one of our longtime local attractions only made possible by some visionary residents of the Ashburton district.

It only takes one person with vision to make things happen and Ashburton has proven to have an amazing ability to get behind these visions and make them happen. What’s your vision?

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