CE Hamish Riach: Final decisions on the Long Term Plan

Published: 23 May 2024

By the time you are reading this, Councillors will have made some concrete decisions about the final form of the Long Term Plan, including what to do with the Tinwald Pool and Balmoral Hall.

During four days of hearings and three days of workshops, Councillors have worked their way through just over 1500 submissions that have spanned five major topics, as well as the second bridge, climate change and requests for funding.

The Long Term Plan gives us a big steer about our work programme for the next 10 years and it now heads off to Audit New Zealand who will take several weeks to look it over – we are expecting them to approve it, so it can be adopted at a Council meeting on 26 June.

The LTP is a major document in the life of council and takes much energy and effort by staff and councillors, who I thank for their work. I would also like to thank the community for their submissions, which numbered about 1500.

We did our part to make the plan a palatable document, with not too much jargon and “council” speak, and we were encouraged by the feedback. All the responses were digested by Councillors and staff and helped shape the final plan – it may disappoint some, but hopefully the majority will see it as a sensible plan for this time, where there is considerable demand for Council services while everyone is faced with the pressures of a rising cost of living.

Next week we will have some special guests in Te Whare Whakatere, when the Canterbury Mayoral Forum holds its regular meetings here. The forum is made up of the mayors of the 10 territorial authorities in Canterbury and the chair of Environment Canterbury. The chair is Timaru Mayor Nigel Bowen.

The forum is a way for local government around the region to communicate, co-ordinate and collaborate and it is a strong and united voice when advocating for Canterbury in the Beehive.

Most recently the forum asked Government for an equitable share of national funding to support land transport. In the 2021-24 National Land Transport Programme, Canterbury only received between 5-8 per cent of the expenditure forecast, despite contributing 12 per cent of the national GDP. Our own second urban bridge project has been endorsed by the forum as the top land transport priority for Canterbury.

In Ashburton next week, the forum’s civil defence emergency and regional land transport committees will meet on Thursday, followed by a full forum meeting on Friday. Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown chairs the civil defence committee.

The gathering will include a tour of our new library and civic building and we look forward to hosting them in this wonderful space.

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