Covid-19 Economic Recovery
This LTP is being prepared in a world still reeling from the impacts of Covid-19 – including global border closures, economic recession, a challenging job environment, and overall uncertainty.
We appreciate this is a difficult time for many people who live here. Fortunately, so far it appears the Waimakariri District is finding itself not as negatively affected by the economic effects of Covid-19 as early estimates suggested and is faring a lot better than many other districts. Our growth momentum is continuing and we are seeing new residential building consents (a good gauge of economic activity) remaining steady.
This is partly due to our proximity to a major population centre in Christchurch, a strong primary industry sector, as well as not being as reliant on tourism as other areas in New Zealand.
However, we are under no illusion that as a community we are out of the woods and the effects of the pandemic could persist through 2021 and beyond.
In June last year we engaged with the community on a draft recovery plan called ‘Waimakariri: Better than Before’ which identified six main programmes of focus:
- Playing a role in leadership, advocacy and providing support for businesses which are facing a downturn
- Preparing strategies to further improve our town centres and business areas while accelerating the ‘green economy’ (sustainable economic activity)
- Supporting investment from the development and building sector
- Bringing forward planned capital projects that could stimulate the economy and provide jobs
- Ensuring the wellbeing of all residents through an increased programme of community development and support
- Maximising business survival and enabling new business development in conjunction with Enterprise North Canterbury.
We have since refined this programme and our direction with the aid of an Economic Recovery Advisory Group made up of local business people. Now we are looking to refocus our attention on tasks which will help the Waimakariri community best recover.
The refined areas of focus include:
- Keeping rates as low as possible
- Business support and economic development - supporting current and attracting new businesses as well as marketing Waimakariri to domestic visitors by leveraging our attractive and affordable lifestyle and great environment
- Increasing psycho-social monitoring and support for residents most affected by the pandemic
- Accelerating Council’s capital works programme to play a bigger role in the coming years of recovery, taking advantage of the Government’s ‘shovel ready’ and ‘stimulus’ funding
- Continuing to advocate for and seek central government support and funding assistance.
To support and stimulate the local economy, we have:
- Secured $9 million of government shovel-ready funding, and when matched with Council funding, we are investing $18 million in climate resilience works in Kaiapoi
- Received $8 million of government stimulus funding, supported by $2.3 million Council funding, to upgrade water supplies and sewer systems in the District
- Budgeted to provide, if required, up to $1 million for economic recovery initiatives.
The consultation for the Draft Long Term Plan has now finished. The Council will now consider all feedback as well as holding public hearings and deliberations in May. The Long Term Plan will be adopted by Council in June.