MAYOR: Backing for our community
The beginning of the year is a logical time to shake out your thoughts a bit and re-assess your position on key issues … sometimes we discover new information or circumstances change, and we must adapt.
One thing that hasn’t changed is my opposition to the commercial vehicle weigh stations that Waka Kotahi is planning to build just north of Rakaia. Council has opposed these on road safety grounds since they were first proposed several years ago.
Their plan is to build two stations - one for northbound traffic at Weavers Road (we don't oppose this one) and one for southbound traffic between the river and rail bridge (this one we oppose).
It makes no sense to have a slow-moving heavy truck pull out into a 100km/h or 80km/h zone after visiting the weigh station – that’s just an accident waiting to happen on an already-tricky piece of road.
Technically it might not be in the Ashburton District but the consequences of a crash there will affect us, so you can be sure that I’ll be revisiting this issue again with Waka Kotahi soon.
Councillors will be back around the table next week for the first big budget workshop of the year. There will be plenty of information to digest and decisions about our district’s critical needs, wants or luxury items. I doubt we’ll be having many of the latter in this current economic climate with the cost of goods and services remaining high.
Community groups planning big or little projects might also feel the pinch and that is why they should take note that the next round of Council community grants opens in February.
The first cluster of grants includes financial help for community projects, biodiversity and heritage work, and new community events. In March, groups will be able to apply for financial help from a regional event fund, a mountain bike trail maintenance fund, the New Zealand Creative Communities Scheme and Sport New Zealand’s rural travel fund.
Don’t be put off by the documentation required – that’s just our way of making sure we are accountable for the money handed out to community groups. Council staff are more than happy to answer questions about the process and give you a hand if needed, so have a look as your project may qualify.
The annual list of recipients is hugely varied, from money to support organisations like Ashburton District Neighbourhood Support to covering printing costs for the Methven Historical Society, or resource and building consent costs for the new walkway into Sharplin Falls.
Another project that you’ll be hearing more about soon is our involvement in the Mayors Taskforce For Jobs national project, which encourages local employers to take on local youth.
It will be a privilege giving my support to this new initiative, which comes with money from the Government to get it under way.
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