2009 – 2019 WDC - LTCCP SUBMISSION - Warren & Patricia (Pat) Slater
Riding Downs Way
Phone: 09 4594992
Let us first address the submission page WDC sent to ratepayers:-
There are three options for Rubbish Disposal given. No extra costs to ratepayers are mentioned. We believe there could well be costs associated with any of these options, as with any development, but they are not addressed as they have done in the Sewerage system section. By selling a share in the landfill is a cost being loss of potential profits. There may be a loss of profit which is also a cost to ratepayers, as I have even had one councilor make comment to me that the whole landfill option is unviable. A futuristic development of this magnitude should in our opinion be kept in council ownership and control. If the operation of the landfill is unviable then maybe it is best if our rubbish is taken away and becomes someone else’s problem.
Improvements to Council’s Sewerage System
While we have an opportunity to speak today it needs to be said that, we have concerns for the health of our harbour and waterways which in turn can lead to issues of the health of our people. The harbour is a great tourist draw card and is also used by many of our own town folk. The cost is more than money. Our harbour is a free resource that we have; all we need to do is maintain it. Some say ‘people get emotive about these issues’, well when you swim, boat, train or collect seafood from our harbour and experience pollution, you can certainly get emotional about it. If you own a business alongside a stream where your council wants to discharge raw untreated sewage, you can get emotional. In fact, all these instances can have an economic outcome if we think about them. If people swim or train, they get fit and healthy; less medical costs.
If we get tourists; more income. If we collect seafood; we feed our families. If our business is surrounded by a clean environment; it is a better business for it.
Then there is a potential real health risk; is it obvious what is in sewage? Probably more than what the ordinary citizen is aware of. Obviously enough to close the harbour to people for 28 days. We will leave the experts to speak to this matter in depth and know you must be well aware of the true consequences and their impact. If not, we would have to ask, why not?
We would have liked to see an ‘Option 5’ which would have the sewerage problems solved without any further money from ratepayers as we feel and have always felt other projects have been pushed forward and that ratepayer’s money should have been budgeted for and used on getting the basics fixed first. However, we presume this will not be the reality and so have looked at your priority for spending and options for the sewerage issue and come up with the following:-
Your options say $58-00 per annum for a $13M spend. Meet you halfway on this one!
So, take $29 per annum off ratepayers which gives an obvious $ 7,500,000 spend
Add in the amount that was going to cost ratepayers nothing $ 4,000,000 upgrade
Pg 213 LTCCP states revenue(1year) 2009/10 for wastewater is $ 13,422,000 w/w rates
Delay harbour crossing link to Pohe Island, needs consultation $ 33,700,000
This already takes us up to $58,622,000 which is $18.5M above what is needed for your option 4, a once every 10 year spill.
Obviously, with your access to finer details of the council financial matters even more can be added to the figures above giving well over the funds needed for option 4. This will allow for an even better outcome.
Other things to consider that can likely provide more funding are:-
Roading attracts subsidies from the government and we have been led to believe the figures in the LTCCP are gross figures, before subsidies, so what is the true cost to council? We do not really need the answer, you know it. Perhaps there is more money that can affordably be diverted in urgency for sewerage work instead of discharging raw, untreated sewage into our waterways and harbour. We leave you to consider this.
We take the opportunity to say, we do not criticise council decisions just for the sake of it or for political gain, but because we care about our town. A lot of good things are done and we acknowledge that. We would like to be made more aware of decisions made by council, to have even more opportunity for input and to have more people willing to listen and speak out, on behalf of us, the ratepayers. We are in contact with a lot of other people, have marched alongside many of them, signed petitions, viewed internet materials on the subject and have read many of their comments in the papers, including those from school children. Professionals have done articles in the media in relation to the situation of our contaminated harbour, the true jewel in our crown, the one we care about. Councilors have said they will work hard for and campaigned on spending to build infrastructure, so obviously this does not totally fall on deaf ears. We hope many of these people have made submissions but know we speak for many when we say……
Zero tolerance to raw untreated sewage discharges, please just fix it.
It will most probably never be cheaper to do in the future, than it will be
to do now. We can fix our sewerage system easier than we can fix our
harbour and waterways.
Stormwater /CBD Flooding
As you say in your 2009 – 2019 LTCCP summary, times are tough and that is why projects really must be carefully prioritised. The CBD in particular needs to have flooding addressed. In tough times business needs to have an even better reputation, does not need any down time because of flooding and loss of money for insurance excesses to name just a few of the unnecessary costs. Personally, although we do not own a business in town, we are concerned that some of our CBD businesses will become uninsurable in the future.
It is also of concern that Northland Regional Council may now start consulting with the community on an issue that has and we believe should be consulted with by Whangarei District Council. Whangarei District Council has taken rates for infrastructure for many years, had public consultation, obviously paid out large sums for consultants and yet not got to the point of reducing flooding to 1 in every 10 years before now.
We are not going to be drawn into matters of a technical nature, as these have been, apparently, well covered by consultants such as AWT etc and your own staff. That is how it should be after all they are the ratepayer funded experts that should know the answers. What we will do is let you know what we personally want done with ratepayer’s money and that is;
Prioritise monies to pay for basic infrastructure firstly sewage & water quality followed by all other basic infrastructure needs.
Council Activity Groups
Ensure all properties are gathering as much revenue as possible. Without being privy to information it is obvious that at least the WDC owned old NRC building could now be and should have for the last few years gathered some much needed revenue.
During various times of contact we have with the citizens of Whangarei it has brought up a great deal that there are places where there is no or limited access to public toilets. One of these places mentioned was the Quarry Garden’s. Although vandalism is a major problem for councils to deal with tourists and citizens alike need to have access to these amenities. We ask that a great deal of consideration be made in this matter.
Councils Financial Strategy
Any assets sold should be sold on the open market to maximize the financial benefit to the ratepayers. The argument of council can be; it is prudent to sell to neighbours? Yes, but after the property has been tendered to find out the true market value, we know valuers can get it wrong and do not have a crystal ball. The property can then be offered to the neighbour at the top price, tendered. If the neighbor decides it is not to their advantage to pay that price then sorry but, it goes to the highest tenderer. Remember this is ratepayers money being used.
This was, in our minds, not a good time to not increase developer contributions, even though it is a recession and hard times for all. Most developers are in this business because they can afford to be, are making very good profit from them and could well sustain an increase. Some of these developers are quite happy to divulge the profits of their business on websites, without naming them, we are sure if you take the time to research such matters you will agree with our feelings on this matter.
Firstly, we wish to acknowledge the tremendous changes that have taken place in regard to our district’s dog pound both physically and culturally. There are only a couple of aspects we felt needed drawing attention to.
a/ To date we have had over twenty calls from concerned citizens regarding an article in the newspapers that stated a vet’s room had been added to the pound so that dog owners could pay to have their dog put down by lethal injection, if that was their choice. We were lead to believe by the review committee and its adopted recommendations to council that all dogs, other than perhaps extremely vicious dogs, would be put down by lethal injection. We might add that vets we have spoken to say there are methods to put even vicious dogs down in this way. We feel there is a need for this to be verified; perhaps a follow up article in the media could clarify this matter to all concerned.
b/ In regard to the gradient of the floor in the pound and the drainage or lack of, there is the potential of contamination from urine and faeces as the drainage is most certainly not up to standard and the drainage in the exercise yard poses a threat of infection, if there is one, to other dogs.
c/ There needs to be more exercise yards to comply with Animal Welfare requirements.
d/ Ventilation of the kennel area is another area of concern. It needs to be very well catered to for the health of the dogs and comfort of staff. Air needs to be discharged from the kennels individually, not circulated throughout, with the risk of spreading infection, if there is one, to other dogs. Our summer months are extremely hot and humid, owners are under an obligation to not leave their dogs in a situation where they can overheat as it can cause stroke. Eg. In cars with windows left up. Council must lead by example in this matter. (Temperatures in the pound area have reached 42 degrees celcius in summer 2008-09 on occasions - not satisfactory)
These are in fact matters of ‘animal welfare’ and the council is classed as the owner or guardian of the animal when it is in their care.
e/ The upgrade presently being undertaken to the pound offices is sure to improve the working environment of the staff which is great and will enhance the culture even more; all that is needed now is to upgrade the kennels to improve the welfare of the dogs which is an animal welfare requirement.
a/ We are very happy that the WDC made a precautionary policy on GMOs in the adopted LTCCP 2006-16 and thank council for retaining this and enhancing it in the WDC LTCCP 2009/19 (on pages l50-151).
b/ We would prefer the outright prohibition of GMO land-use and ask that strong rules be put in the Whangarei District Plan, prohibiting GMO land use.
We thank you for the opportunity to make comment to the Whangarei District Council LTCCP and are happy to answer any questions you may wish to ask
We wish to be heard in support of this submission