MAYOR: New plays to keep our district scoring goals

Published: 20 December 2022

I’m borrowing a sporting commentator’s famous cliché when I say that 2022 has been a game of two halves - the first half was dominated by covid in our community and the second by big plays to return to normal.

We are almost there … a bit of extra time is needed.

I’d like to use this opportunity to say a big thank you to our whole community for staying strong, but especially to the essential workers who kept the wheels of our district going, whether they came to work every day to a supermarket, petrol station, a farm, a medical centre or hospital.

It was not an easy first six months of the year, but light was on the horizon. We welcomed a return to maskless interactions and it was great to see people smiling again. We also held Local Body Elections, which saw the retirement of four councillors who had devoted many years to local government. I thank them also.

The new crew is settling in for a productive term and as local body politicians they are about to become very acquainted with the controversial Three Waters legislation making its way through Parliament, and the two new pieces of legislation that will replace the Resource Management Act.

We recently re-affirmed our opposition to the Three Waters reforms, as they are currently proposed.

Water services are not one size fits all and as a council we are worried our voice, and needs, will be lost in an entity that will cover nearly all of the South Island. This is not fair to our ratepayers, who have invested many millions over the decades to keep three waters infrastructure in this district in good shape. We already have safe and affordable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services and have longterm plans to ensure it stays that way.

No-one disputes the need for investment in some parts of the country, but there must be a better way to achieve it.

But my Christmas message should not be hijacked by politics.

I also want to celebrate some transport projects that we have partnered with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to help deliver. The new Walnut Avenue traffic lights are up and running, with no orange road cones in sight and few complaints.

We hope that the next project, traffic lights on State Highway 1 at the corner of Agnes Street and Lagmhor Road in Tinwald, also delivers on design and expectations.

Another future project, of course, is the second bridge, which we expect to see on the 2024-27 national land transport programme of work. A focus for council next year will be finding funds for the work, which better connects Ashburton and Tinwald, and the whole South Island, and takes pressure off the highway and its increasing volumes of traffic.

There will likely be a fair bit of negotiation between us, the regional and national land transport committees, Waka Kotahi and Government … and all in the same year as a General Election.

So, whichever road you are travelling on this summer, take care and come back safe.

Merry Christmas to you all.

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