Looking back on 2019, there is much to reflect on for our community, and not all of it I can mention in just a few paragraphs, but I'd like to touch on a few things.
It's been a big year for local democracy and representation, with a new term of Council elected in October and the introduction of live-streamed Council meetings.
I am proud to be serving alongside a group of dedicated, capable and eager elected members. Everyone is settling in well into their new roles and I have enjoyed getting to meet other mayors from around the country and getting on with the business at hand.
Residents now have even more access to see this firsthand, as we began live-streaming the meetings this year, which I'm very pleased is available.
There have been several projects that have advanced or been completed over the last 12 months that are helping to improve our district. Several notable projects include the Ashburton Cemetery extension, plans to rejuvenate Ashburton's town centre, the much-needed upgrades to the Rakaia Salmon Site and the new Ashburton River Crossing and Pump Station that will future-proof the town's wastewater network for many years to come.
While there have been many wonderful achievements and improvements this year, 2019 has undoubtedly been a tough time for many. Mycoplasma bovis has brought a great deal of stress and uncertainty for our farmers; we've experienced terrible losses on our roads; and of course, we will never forget the devastation of the Christchurch mosque attacks on March 15.
My thoughts continue to be with those impacted by these awful events. My hope is that 2020 will bring some level of certainty and closure, and for those who are suffering, perhaps a time of healing.
Thank you to everyone who has stepped up this year to help those in need, for providing support, rejecting hatred and showing our true community spirit. These selfless acts of caring are probably what I am most proud of.
I hope you are staying safe and enjoying this time with friends and family, and I look forward to working with you all in the New Year to make the Ashburton District an even greater place.