Commissioners meet with social sector

the commissioners 300x189 - Commissioners meet with social sector the audience 300x198 - Commissioners meet with social sectorTauranga’s residents have a sense of helplessness about the overwhelming growth of their city, commissioner Anne Tolley told social sector agencies on Thursday at The Kollective.

The meeting was organised by The Kollective and SociaLink, the umbrella organisation for Western Bay of Plenty social agencies. All four commissioners – Tolley, Bill Wasley, Shad Rolleston and Stephen Selwood – spoke about the council’s Long Term Plan, which is open for submissions.

Tolley said the Plan included providing better amenities, the ability to move around the city, providing land for affordable housing and revitalisation of the city centre.

“Devonport Road is a pretty sad place in its current state,” Wasley said.

“We’re incorporating a proposal for a civic administration building, an indication of the kind of development which will bring several hundred staff back into the city centre.”

He said as well as managing growth it needed to provide for the people who already live here. The council would be an enabler of affordable housing, but would not be going out and buying up land.

“There is a need for balance.”

Selwood said the city had not managed growth well. Transport would get the greatest percentage of the investment – $1.9 billion.

Tolley said residential rates would increase 16 to 17 percent, about $1 a day for most, and they were looking to spread the costs, with higher increases in consents and development contributions, which would more than double. The Plan shifted more of the load to the commercial sector, she said.

The commissioners heard from the social agencies that the Plan focused on infrastructure and not people, and that those renting were left out. There also needed to be more consideration in the Plan of the 27 percent of residents with a disability.

Rolleston said they recognised there were gaps, but the Plan was intended to be inclusive and address broader social issues.

Tolley said families were at the heart of the Plan and they were working with partners such as the Regional Council so they could talk to the government with a single voice.

Asked what she thought was the biggest concern for the city she said people appeared overwhelmed by growth, and wanted stops put up at either end of the city to stop it.

“There’s a sense of helplessness.”

Selwood said when he arrived Tauranga didn’t appear to have a ‘story’.

“It’s difficult to understand what the city is about.”

The commissioners urged people to make submissions on the plan, and said they had made it as easy as possible for people to have their voice heard.