MAYOR: Building blocks for a sound, thriving future

Published: 1 February 2024

I’ve had the privilege to be part of the opening of two impressive new buildings this week, buildings that are both important for our district: One was the new Rangitata classroom block at Ashburton College and the other was Te Whare Whakatere, the new library and civic centre.

As a former student at the college, it was a pleasure to see the modern new classrooms that will better suit teachers and students. I remember the old concrete block classrooms, that served students from around the district for more than 50 years.

The new library and civic centre will serve our community for at least the same period of time and it has been a pleasure setting up my new office. I know the building has had many visitors and the people counter in the library ticked over 7300 for the first seven days.

It has been a great project, now complete and council staff moved in, and people are coming in to have a look at what is an amazing space.

The business of council carries on, old building or new, and we are straight back into finalising the draft Long Term Plan, which will be out for consultation on 27 March.

This is our road map for the district over the next 10 years, with more detail about what will happen in the next three.

There are some big issues that we will be seeking feedback on.

Green waste – Government requires us to have a food scraps collection in place by 2027 and we are asking if residents also want this green waste collection to include lawn clippings in the same green bin.

Tinwald Pool – people are passionate about this pool but it has a lot of issues. We know what they are and the repairs required - but if we are going to spend $3 million, do we spend the money repairing Tinwald, or build a splash and play area at the Ashburton Domain or a new outdoor pool or hydroslide at EA Networks Centre. There are several options for outdoor water play that we’ll be putting to the community.

Balmoral Hall and the old Polytech site – the hall is old and still used, but a lot of money needs to be spent to bring it up to scratch to today’s standards. Should we sell or fix?

Stockwater – this is our open race system taking water from the rivers and delivering it to some landowners. We have no fish screens at the river takes, which we need to comply with Environment Canterbury water take conditions, and these come at a huge cost. Delivering water by an open race is not efficient, especially when we have irrigation pipes all around the district doing the same thing; open races are good though for environmental reasons, so we are expecting a lot of feedback on this issue.

EA Networks Centre stadium extension - Should we extend the stadium by another two or three courts. A feasibility study tells us the courts are fully booked, especially after school, so should we extend and attract even more users? We’re looking at the extension in Years 4-10, and it has an estimated price tag of $21m. We have to balance that expenditure against rate rises, so there will be good discussion on that.

On top of that, we plan to spend $8m on our water supplies, to keep them up to national drinking water standards. We are not in dire straits, like other councils, but we need to keep on replacing old pipes. Plus we intend to spend a lot more money on fixing our roads.

Council’s to-do list is long, but we will spend wisely for our future.

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