Fri, May 17, 2024 5:58 AM

Mayor’s column: Community views on council’s plan


Nick Smith

Council received an all-time record 1536 responses to our draft Long Term Plan for 2024-2034 and last week we spent three days hearing submissions on the budgets and proposals. I have spent days and nights reading people’s views and love the passion Nelsonians have for our city. I will be individually responding to every submitter.

We asked for feedback on key issues. The strongest public support, at more than 80%, was for Council to phase out commercial forestry and switch to continuous canopy mixed species. The second most supported proposal, at just over 68%, was the development of a surf lifesaving facility at Tāhunanui Beach, funded 50/50 with the surf lifesaving club.

There was also strong support for an arts hub for the central city (64%) and setting up a company to progress the Nelson Marina masterplan (57%). The proposal for an all-weather sports turf got a mixed reaction (48% for, 38% against) and is going to need more work.

The most difficult issue is how Council deals with the aftermath and costs of the August ’22 storm. I was encouraged that most Nelsonians supported our pragmatic deal with Government to enable us to help the worst affected homeowners. The $300 storm recovery charge over ten years is a bitter pill to swallow but we have no option other than to fix the city’s infrastructure.

We heard from dozens of organisations that are doing great work in our city supporting sports and arts, protecting our environment, developing our youth, looking after our most vulnerable and growing our economy. The requests for additional spending were modest individually but added together come to many millions.

We also must be mindful that Government spends over ten times that of Council in Nelson. We need to be cautious of funding its responsibilities and be effective advocates in ensuring we get our fair share of investment.

The proposed rates rise of 8.2% plus the $300 storm recovery charge is already the highest in decades. As we finalise this plan over the next month and set the rates for the next year, we must have front of mind the huge financial pressure on Nelson households and businesses.

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