Waimak residents to contribute to future

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Connections . . . Waimakariri residents being called on to plan for the future. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

By DAVID HILL

Waimakariri district residents are being asked to have their say on what they would like the district to look like in 30 years.

The Waimakariri District Council plans to compile a district development strategy (DDS), “Our District Our Future, Waimakariri 2048”, by the middle of next year and is asking the community to help produce a draft strategy.

The council is seeking feedback in seven key areas “our growing communities”, “our connections”, “our economy”, “our centres”, “our community spaces and places”, “our environment” and “our rural areas and small settlements”.

For the last 30 years, Waimakariri has been one of the fastest growing districts in New Zealand and the resident population has doubled since 1986 to about 56,400 in 2015.

That population growth is expected and could reach between 80,000 and 100,000 by 2048, with a much larger 65+ age group. At present, one in six district residents is aged 65 years or older and by 2048 its predicted to increase to one in three.

A review of the district plan is necessary to ensure the district and its townships have adequate land zoned for the anticipated growth and the DDS will help to “plan for appropriate infrastructure to support this growth”, the council says.

The council is seeking feedback on how to improve connections between towns both within the district and to and from Christchurch.

They are also being asked to comment on what “emerging transport technologies” could mean for the district, about improvements to the cycle network and whether options such as “park and ride”, express bus services, rail and car pool lanes would make a difference.

Feedback is also sought on how to develop the local economy and to create jobs locally.

More than 460ha of land in the district is zoned for business activity, with another 9ha in the pipeline, however more than 100ha of business land is vacant, raising the question of whether “we are providing the right business environments in the right locations”.

What type of community facilities will be needed to meeting the needs of a growing population?

At present, the council provides 33 community buildings, including three aquatic centres, three libraries, two town halls and three service centres, alongside 1000ha of park and reserve space.

How should the council manage the natural environment, including protecting the coastline from possible sea level rise, managing land susceptible to liquefaction and lateral spreading and areas prone to flooding?

The rural economy continues to play a major role of the district’s economy.

But the growing population raises questions about how to manage the expanding business and residential areas which spread out into rural areas.

Is there a role for small holdings and what will be the role of the rural economy in the future?

A public event is being held in the Rangiora Town Hall on Wednesday, November 2, from 5.30pm, where residents can hear about key trends and future projections from council staff and ask any questions.

Residents are invited to give feedback until November 11 via the council website, by email: records@wmk.govt.nz, or post to: “Our District Our Future, Waimakariri 2048”, Waimakariri District Council, Freepost 1667, Private Bag 1005, Rangiora 7440, or drop off a feedback form or letter to one of the libraries or service centres.

More information is available on the council website or Waimakariri District Council page on Facebook.