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Infrastructure, harbour health and climate change the focus for Porirua

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Investment in critical infrastructure, a strong focus on harbour health and preparing for climate change are the key priorities for Porirua, while other “nice to haves” will have to wait, was the clear message from Porirua City Council today.

The Council’s Te Puna Korero Committee deliberated this morning on the city’s Long-term Plan (LTP), which sets the direction and budget for the next 30 years. Its recommendations will go before the full Council on 30 June to be formally adopted.

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker said the Committee weighed up community feedback, submissions and officer reports when making its recommendations.

“You’ve told us how much you value the harbour, and that you want us to fix our broken infrastructure – and we’ve heard you loud and clear. We also know we need to address the very real threat of climate change,” she said.

“We’re investing in these areas as critical priorities.

“We’ve put ideas like the Cultural Arts Centre on hold for now. You’ve told us that this isn’t the time for non-essential spending, and we’ve heard you.”

The draft LTP included an $800 million investment over the next 30 years in 3 waters infrastructure to improve the pipe network, protect our harbour, beaches and waterways, address flooding hotspots, ensure the integrity of our wastewater system and continue to provide quality drinking water.

That was bolstered today with agreements to include an additional $10m for stormwater investment, $6m for climate change projects over years two and three of the LTP, and $600,000 for riparian planting.

The Committee also made recommendations on a number of items consulted on during the LTP process. These included agreeing to extend payment of the living wage to Council contractors, introducing paid parking in the city centre, and to sell the Moana Court flats to a social housing provider on the basis the tenants get the same or better conditions.

In other infrastructure spending, the draft LTP also includes a $323m investment in roading, to improve resilience and safety of the roading network.

Based on today’s recommendations, the average rates increase for the city is likely to be 7.77%, but the final figures will be confirmed by Council at its meeting at the end of the June.

“We know that rates increases add pressure to household budgets, but failing to make these critical investments today would cost much more in the long run,” Mayor Baker said.

“We’ve worked hard to balance funding this essential work with the impact on our ratepayers, but – with the challenges we face with ageing infrastructure, city growth and future-proofing the city against climate change – the cost of inaction is too great.”

On the issue of affordability, the Committee unanimously agreed to a motion put forward by Councillor Euon Murrell, that Council should lobby the Future for Local Government review to look at different funding options for the sector – as the current local government model was unsustainable for a city like Porirua.

“Nobody should have to leave their home because they can’t afford to live here, and that’s what’s happening to some of our people,” he said.

Mayor Baker agreed.

“Financing of how we run our cities has to be looked at. There’s got to be a fairer way of doing it."

Full minutes from today’s meeting are available on our website poriruacity.govt.nz/meetings

3 Jun 2021