14 March 2017
LGNZ launches Water 2050 to develop cohesive water policy
Local Government New Zealand has launched a new piece of work to create a comprehensive framework that brings freshwater issues and water infrastructure into a coherent policy.
Local government is at the heart of water issues in New Zealand, from the provision of drinking water and storm and waste water services to implementing standards for freshwater quality.
LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says “Water 2050” will develop a framework for water that coherently integrates freshwater quality and quantity, standards, rights and allocation, land use, three waters infrastructure, cost and affordability, and funding while recognising that the allocation of iwi rights and interests in freshwater is a live issue for the Crown.
“From the perspective of local government there has been little connected discussion of how quality standards like those announced by the Government recently connect to infrastructure investment and, perhaps most importantly for communities, affordability,” Mr Yule says.
“Water infrastructure is owned by communities and is fiendishly expensive to construct or upgrade – the
cost of upgrading New Zealand’s current water infrastructure will be in the billions. The quality of this infrastructure has a direct impact on the quality of our streams, lakes and rivers.
“So we need to ensure that when we set goals for how clean we want our freshwater resources to be, that we are also talking about the cost to our communities of doing this, the economic trade-offs that might need to be made, and how we pay for it. This is something that has been missing from the discussion so far.
The first major step in Water 2050 will be a Freshwater Symposium to be held in Wellington at the end of May.“To achieve affordable and sustainable results we need to think about water in a holistic way and this will be the aim of Water 2050,” Mr Yule says.
The two day symposium will look at the strategic issues for freshwater management in New Zealand with a particular focus on water quality, quantity and funding and how we get the right outcomes for communities.
The symposium will include a key note speech from Austin-based David Maidment, a specialist in environment and water resources engineering from the Center for Research in Water Resources, at the University of Texas.
“This symposium will seek to address many of the major issues around freshwater for New Zealand, local government and its communities,” Mr Yule says.
“We need to start having a better quality conversation about water and we hope this event will lead to a broader dialogue about what we want for our water and how we get there.”
14 March 2017
Depth of tourism infrastructure needs revealed
The full extent of the infrastructure investment needed so communities can keep up with unprecedented tourism growth has been highlighted through a recent survey of local government.
The tourism boom New Zealand is currently experiencing is putting pressure on infrastructure used by both international visitors and local communities.
The March 2017 research involving 47 councils revealed there are over 680 mixed use infrastructure projects with a value of around $1.38 billion that are in development in one form or another.
Councils across the country were asked to identify infrastructure projects needed to support sustainable tourism growth.
Local Government New Zealand President Lawrence Yule says it is well beyond the resources of local communities to fund these projects, which include the development and ongoing operation of toilets, wastewater systems, car parks, access roads and wifi, and that a new funding mechanism is needed.
“The arguments for a new, sustainable way of funding infrastructure for tourism are undeniable,” Mr Yule says. “We just need to get on with it now and these figures provided by just over half of our councils further illustrate the scale at which we need to act.
“There is much that could be done to protect and enhance the visitor experience, and provide some relief for our communities, many of which have a small ratepayer base. If we don’t act and with the right level of investment, we will be in no position to cope with the forecast growth of tourism – 4.5 million annual visitors by 2025. ‘Just in time’ infrastructure can mean ‘just too late’.”
There are calls for relief from many parts of New Zealand. Auckland mayor Phil Goff has proposed an accommodation levy for his city, while Queenstown Lakes mayor Jim Boult sees the need for a visitor levy for the district.
Mr Yule says it is understood the Government is looking at ways to address the need.
“We are confident there will be a solution, we just need to ensure it is the right one,” he says.
Accommodation and border levies contributing to a co-investment fund between central and local government and the tourism industry is a preferred model.
“Co-funding, with contributions from central Government, councils and the industry, in a way that allows for maintenance and operational costs, is required. Whatever option is settled on it needs to be well supported by all parties if we are to see a durable solution.”
GST from international visitors alone rose to $1.5 billion in the year to March 2016, up from $950 million in the 2015 year.
14 March 2017
New group to work on big issues in local government
A new policy group to advise local government on the big issues facing communities nationwide will bring together a diverse and capable team.
Local Government New Zealand’s new Policy Advisory Group will focus on the issues relating to the economic, environmental, social, and cultural well-being of New Zealand and its communities, including policy around water, climate change and housing.
LGNZ president Lawrence Yule says members of the group are highly experienced and capable local government leaders and will use their combined skills and knowledge to provide recommendations on the issues it covers.
“There is a lot of talent and experience in the local government family and this is a powerful way of developing policy that works across our diverse communities,” Mr Yule says.
“Looking ahead local government and the communities it serves have a range of challenges to meet. These include issues of immediate concern like housing affordability and rising infrastructure needs as well as longer term shifts like adapting to climate change, an ageing population and increasing urbanisation.
“This group will for the next three years help the sector set policies and strategies in response to these and other challenges. It is important work for the betterment of the whole country and I welcome those who have been appointed.”
Members of Policy Advisory Group are:
· Chair – Richard Kempthorne, LGNZ National Council Member and Mayor, Tasman District Council
· Stuart Crosby, Councillor, LGNZ National Council Member and Bay of Plenty Regional Council
· David Bedford, Chair, Environment Canterbury
· Jenny Brash, Councillor, Greater Wellington Regional Council
· Ana Coffey, Councillor, Porirua City Council
· Meng Foon, Mayor, Gisborne District Council
· John Forbes, Mayor, Opotiki District Council
· Richard Hills, Councillor, Auckland Council
· Janet Holborow, Deputy Mayor, Kapiti Coast District Council
· Simon Markham, Manager Strategy and Engagement, Waimakariri District Council
· Michael Meehan, Chief Executive, West Coast Regional Council
· Jane Nees, Deputy Chair, Bay of Plenty Regional Council
· Lan Pham, Councillor, Environment Canterbury
· Penny Pirrit, Director Regulatory Services, Auckland Council
· Bob Simcock, Councillor, Waikato Regional Council
· Paula Southgate, Councillor, Hamilton City Council
· Piri-Hira Tukapua, Councillor, Horowhenua District Council.
LGNZ has also reformed its Governance and Strategy Advisory Group, which provides advice on the overall strategic direction of LGNZ and best practice approaches to local government governance, performance, funding and procedure.
Among other emerging issues this work will entail overseeing the LGNZ election manifesto ahead of this year’s general election, looking ahead to the 2019 local elections and boosting engagement in local government and advancing the Local Government Risk Agency.
The current members of the Governance and Strategy Committee are:
· Lawrence Yule, President, LGNZ and Mayor, Hastings District Council (Chair)
· Dave Cull, Vice President, LGNZ and Mayor, Dunedin City Council
· Wayne Guppy, Mayor, Upper Hutt City Council
· Aaron Hawkins, Councillor, Dunedin City Council
· Bonita Bigham, Councillor, South Taranaki District Council
· David Ayers, Mayor, Waimakariri District Council
· David MacLeod, Chair, Taranaki Regional Council
· Hon David Caygill, Councillor, Environment Canterbury
· Diane Calvert, Councillor, Wellington City Council
· Greg Innes, Councillor, Whangarei District Council
· Kelvin Clout, Deputy Mayor, Tauranga City Council
· Monique Davidson, Group Manager, Horowhenua District Council
· Phil Wilson, Governance Director, Auckland Council
· Pippa Coom, Local Board Chair, Auckland Council
· Tania McInnes, Deputy Mayor, Far North District Council
· Hon Steve Chadwick, Mayor, Rotorua Lakes District Council.