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Annual Report highlights a busy year

27 Oct 2009

Annual Report highlights a busy year

Forty two million dollars was collected in rates last year in the Gisborne district. The Annual Report, which goes to Council this Thursday, outlines how residents benefitted from that investment. "Last year was about asking residents how they saw this district in 10 years time and what council should be working on," said Mayor Meng Foon. "After listening to feedback from many parts of the community we produced a Ten Year Plan and worked with organisations to decide what community outcomes we should all be working towards. These outcomes are a useful barometer of how council is performing. "A highlight for council was the progress made on the new wastewater treatment plant. In July 2008 we were looking at an $85M plant at the airport. Now we have consents to build a $45M plant in Banks Street. Building is expected to start in 2010 and the current milliscreening site near Midway Beach will soon be cleared" Mayor Foon added.

As a unitary authority Gisborne District Council is responsible for protecting the environment and building infrastructure for future generations. This must be balanced with providing for the needs of the district's current residents.

Protecting the environment involves working closely with landowners said environment and planning manager Hans van Kregten. "We have been working together to stabilise our hill country as part of the Sustainable Hill Country project. Council has provided advice on tree establishment plans and funding options. We also worked with the Tokomaru Bay community placing restrictions on coastal land use. We don't want landowners to build a house on "at risk' land only for it to be lost to sea. Other initiatives included producing a "Working with Wetlands" booklet to help landowners restore the ecology of their waterways and preventing rooks (crows) from establishing in the district. This will save our valuable seed crops and topsoil," Mr van Kregten added.

"The district's townships benefitted from council initiatives in the last year" said engineering and works manager Peter Higgs. "A key project has been working with 2 Ruatoria based trusts and government agencies to develop a whole of catchment plan for the Waiapu River. The initial focus is protecting Ruatoria from a major flood and the effects of erosion. We also built a new grandstand at Tokomaru Bay and installed a skate ramp at Patutahi Park as part of a community-led plan to develop the area. Te Araroa got its long awaited main street upgrade and the burn pit at Tikitiki was replaced with an environmentally-friendly transfer station."

"Keeping our roads open and accessible is always one of council's big expenditure items each year. We have more roads per head of population than any other district and 60% of them are unsealed. Despite challenges from heavy rain, 74 kilometres of roads were resealed, 16 kilometres improved and approximately 500 slips cleared including 150 major ones. Waimata Valley residents were pleased that 6 kilometres of the notoriously unstable Waimata Valley road was sealed. The inner harbour was cleared of logging trucks after the new Rakaiatane Road was built, opening up opportunities for further development in this area" Mr Higgs said.

"One of council's most popular projects last year was extending the city walkway along the Turanganui riverbank. The path was designed to accommodate cyclists and walkers together. Down by the Waikanae creek a large koru pattern has been incorporated into the paving and at Watties wharf, which is always popular for fishing, wooden decking and seating were installed. Further walkway developments are dependant on external funding Mr Higgs added.