Waikato, one of the country’s fastest growing districts, is forecast to jump from its current 29,000 households and 77,000 people to around 41,000 households and 102,000 people by 2040.
The Waikato District Council is preparing for a long period of growth and change and has been working hard on major initiatives in the past year that will be crucial to creating liveable communities for the future, it says.
Speaking after the adoption of the Annual Report earlier this month, Chief Executive Gavin Ion highlighted the importance of the Council’s vision of ‘liveable, thriving and connected communities’.
It will guide how we shape our growth so we create communities that people feel connected to and want to live in, he said.
Laid out in the Long Term Plan, this vision is supported by a $1 million budget to implement a series of blueprints for the district’s key growth areas which will help inform work, in partnership with the Government, to maximise opportunities for integrated growth management along the Hamilton to Auckland corridor.
Among major initiatives, Ion says the council has in the past year:
- Received nearly 1,000 submissions on the proposed District Plan;
- Supported the vision of building ‘liveable, thriving and connected communities’ with the creation and adoption of the Waikato Blueprint;
- Supported strong community development as it starts to build across the district, with increased activity being seen in community-led development programmes as part of the Blueprint;
- Established an independent Waters Governance Board to drive forward with strategic and operational changes to the Waikato district’s waters systems and management, which is predicted to save us around $28 million over the next 10 years and deliver improved environmental outcomes;
- Set aside funding to upgrade Tuakau Library to the tune of $1.25 million. Building work will commence at the end of February 2020, with completion set for end of November 2020.
The council met its financial targets for the past year, and worked to set rates and debt levels that balance affordability with the need to provide for a growing community, Ion said.
“Council is continuing to attract new business to the district in the interest of balanced growth and to increase employment opportunities for residents, such as Port of Auckland in Horotiu and further development proposed as part of the future growth plan.”
Ion said the council was focussed on sustainable delivery of services and wanted to involve the community in decisions affecting the future of the district.
“We are proud that some of our most widely-used services recorded customer satisfaction levels of 80% or more including libraries (91%), parks and reserves (83%), wastewater (90%), water (82%), rubbish (83%) and recycling (82%). Overall, 66% of survey respondents were satisfied with the way rates are spent on the services and facilities we provide.”
The council also committed grants totalling more than $590,000 from council-owned or administered funds for distribution to 118 organisations to enable communities to meet some of their own needs.
The annual report summary has been made digital for the first time and is now available on here on the council website.