CE Hamish Riach: Road cones mean more core work in progress

Published: 28 September 2023

When you drive around Ashburton at the moment, you may well have noticed the many work zones that are marked out by orange safety cones.

Many of them are Council projects - Cass Street, Grigg Street, Wills Street and Princes Street are just some of the water and wastewater pipe renewal jobs that are under way.

The road cones might signal disruption to some, but in reality, they are signs of essential work in progress. From the time you get up in the morning and flush the toilet, to a drink of water before bed, Council infrastructure is in play and it is our job to make sure those services are safe and reliable.

It was pleasing to see from our annual residents’ survey that 81 per cent of respondents trusted Council to do the right thing for the district and its communities – that’s up from 77 per cent last year.

We measure 56 attributes in the survey, which is sent to residents selected at random from the electoral roll. Overall satisfaction with council performance was 67 per cent, slightly up from last year.

Our top performing areas remained emergency management, property information services, cemeteries, the public library, parks and the Ashburton Domain, and Council’s website.

On the other side of the ledger, of those who were dissatisfied with Council, 66 per cent cited road works and potholes as the reason – and that’s an area we continue to work on, with Council allocating an extra $1m to the roading rehabilitation budget this year.

So expect more road cones, and more progress.

We are also getting closer and closer to completing the build of Te Whare Whakatere, the new Ashburton Library and Civic Centre. Included within this wonderful new facility is the historic building Pioneer Hall. Pioneer Hall was built in 1916 and is a heritage-listed building, so we are honouring the past by preserving it and giving it a new lease of life.

As far as we know, including a heritage building entirely within the envelope of a new building is a first in New Zealand and, from recent visits, I can tell you that it looks stunning from the inside and we can’t wait to show the community and see our tamariki enjoying the space as part of the children’s library area.

Council is proud to be involved in many projects with a heritage aspect, from making plans to preserve the historic rail footbridge, to protecting locally important sites like the Ng King gardens, Barrhill village and the spot of William Turton’s first accommodation house on the banks of the Ashburton River.

Council also encourages others to preserve history through its annual grants and funding process.

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