Looking Back at the Year that Was

What a productive year 2018 has been. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking how fast another year has come to an end, but that is inevitably what happens when there is plenty of work to do. For many, the looming Christmas holidays spells a much-deserved break to reminisce on the year that was. When I stop to think about what has been happening for Council and the things that have been achieved, I’m struck by the sheer amount of diverse projects and activities that have progressed.

Developments at the Chinese settlement on Allens Road have moved in leaps and bounds. This historic site was once a Chinese market garden which the Council took guardianship of in 2013. After the Council approved funds for the preservation and partial restoration of the buildings last year, work has commenced at the site and is still ongoing today. During a visit to the settlement in September, a senior archaeologist with Heritage New Zealand revealed that the site has significant historical value and that Heritage New Zealand is proposing to declare the settlement an archaeological site.

We are continuing to see more and more people coming to our district to live and work, and a great example of this is the growing number of new citizens I get the pleasure of welcoming to the district at our citizenship ceremonies. Attracting and retaining more people in our community is something that we hope to further encourage through initiatives such as the Ashburton District Welcoming Communities Plan that Council adopted this year. The purpose of the plan is to help make our district an even more welcoming place for newcomers. Through a series of workshops, residents were able to help formulate the plan, and some of the activities included have already come to life, such as the Futsal Tournament Extravaganza held in October. I look forward to seeing the Plan continue to roll out and foster more positive outcomes for our community.

The Ashburton CBD revitalisation project has also seen significant progress this year. With the help of residents, the Council was able to finalise a streetscape plan for the precinct in September. The intention of the plan is to help breathe new life into the CBD that will encourage more people to come into town and support our local economy. Work is expected to start in 2019 and I look forward to seeing all the hard work carried out this year begin taking effect.

From a core infrastructure perspective, we’ve increased funding for roads, the government has –for the first time – introduced subsidised funding for our footpaths, we’ve taken advantage of NZ Transport Agency funding to replace the district’s streetlights with LED, and we’ve continued renewing Ashburton’s wastewater pipe network.

These projects and activities would not be possible without the dedication of our elected members, Methven Community Board members, Council staff, Youth Councillors and of course, the numerous volunteers who make our community so great to be a part of. I’d like to extend my sincere thanks for everyone’s hard work throughout this very busy year. Of particular note, I’d also like to mention our new Chief Executive, Hamish Riach, who joined the Council a few months ago. He has hit the ground running and we look forward to continuing our work together in 2019.

I hope the New Year has many great things in store for you and your loved ones. Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone and Merry Christmas.

Page reviewed: 09 Jan 2019 9:10am