- What do you consider to be the biggest opportunities and threats facing Kapiti over the next five to ten years?
Transmission Gully offers both. It will enable businesses to relocate to Kapiti while still having an accessible presence in Wellington. TG will also offer a fast way for people from the south to visit Kapiti. The flipside of that is TG and the Kapiti Expressway also gives the same people and businesses the opportunity to pass right through Kapiti. The challenge is to make Kapiti a destination. All of this will happen over the next few years. If there is to be growth of value to Kapiti it will require an efficient infrastructure.
Probably the biggest threat from a Council point of view is its very high debt and the servicing cost of that. At present about 25cents of every rates dollar goes to pay interest on the debt. There will need to be sound financial management to ensure Kapiti does not slip into an austerity mode and instead uses the significant natural assets we have to grow a sustainable rating base.
- Economic growth has benefits for everyone living in the district. Kapiti needs a sound economic development strategy. How would you go about ensuring the strategy is developed and implemented and who should be involved?
Economic growth per se isn’t beneficial if it is the wrong sort that doesn’t fit with a well developed vision of the sort of place we want Kapiti to be. The discovery of a major coal mine for instance might bring economic growth but not fit with our sense of place. Therefore the economic development strategy needs to reflect the broader vision for the district. Groups such as KEDA, the Chamber of Commerce, Iwi, business partners, the Council, WREDA and other stakeholders should be part of the advisory group that establishes an economic growth strategy which fits in with the broader strategy for Kapiti’s future.
- Will Kapiti have the infrastructure needed to support projected population growth? If not, what are the key priorities for infrastructure development?
The short, and honest answer, is probably no. Kapiti has a serious infrastructure deficit, mainly underground, with stormwater, sewerage and water supply alone estimated to require over $100million worth of replacement now. Council’s debt is relatively high and the ability to fund major infrastructure from an already struggling rating base is problematic. The clear strategy would be for KCDC to be talking with regional and central government agencies about funding strategies for essential infrastructure.
- Council has a goal of being “Open for Business”. What does this term mean to you and what can Council do to ensure it achieves this goal?
‘Open for Business’ was a laudable aim but, certainly in the minds of businesses and the public, this has never been a reality. From the very public stoushes between Business representative groups and council it is clear there has been a significant disconnect on this. It is important for elected bodies to keep it real. Slogans sound good but what businesses want is policy certainty and follow-through. If council works closely with sector groups to develop a strategic plan for Kapiti then it has much more chance of being seen as genuinely open for business.
- Does Council have a role to encourage businesses to relocate or establish here? If so, what kind of support should Council offer?
Absolutely, yes it does. Council has a vital role in attracting or inhibiting business growth. Having a smooth functioning infrastructure is important to encourage businesses to locate here and for current businesses to stay here. Council has a variety of mechanisms available to it from rates relief to new businesses to maintaining the community vision that helps sell the brand of Kapiti nationally and internationally. Kapiti has a great story to tell and it needs to be told in a coherent and attractive way which will attract businesses to settle and stay here.
- How Important is it to tell the “Kapiti Story” and how would you go about supporting a project to do this?
See answer above. I think it is worth noting there isn’t just a single ‘Kapiti Story.’ There are several and they frequently interrelate. The Cultural, Environmental, Economic and Social diversity of Kapiti is complex with differing emphasis through different townships of Kapiti. We should avoid a homogenous vision and celebrate our diversity. Economic decline is not a story we want told so some of the strategies mentioned above become crucial to our future success. Involving key stakeholders from throughout Kapiti is vital, as is involvement with regional partners – both north and south, as well as central government.
- The future of the well-patronised Kapiti Community Centre is in doubt due to the discovery of leaks and mould in the building. Do you believe Kapiti needs a Community Centre? If so, what needs to happen to ensure we have one?
Yes, every community needs a community centre. The Kapiti Community Centre is largely a Paraparaumu Community Centre. There is a superb Community Centre on Ocean Road at Paraparaumu Beach. There are community centres in Otaki, Te Horo, Waikanae, Reikorangi, Raumati, and Paekakariki and they all need to be properly maintained and their use encouraged. Often community groups find the costs to use them too high. I would like to see a strategy (that works and is implemented) used to regularly maintain these important community assets. Hopefully there will be lessons learned from the Waikanae Library closure and the Kapiti Community Centre – both important community assets. Deferred maintenance is really not an option for community assets.
- There has been much debate over the proposed Kapiti Gateway project. There are varying views on the need for a Gateway, the proposed cost and the proposed location. How would you work towards a solution that is acceptable to the various stakeholders, including Council, the community, retailers, visitors and affected parties?
I do not have a well formed view on this. I have seen and read about a variety of options. I would have to give this more study and thought before offering an opinion about the best option.
- The Raumati Swimming Pool complex has been lying idle for some time. It has been proposed that the complex be used to develop a Marine Discovery Centre, which would have both local and national significance. Do you support the development of such a Centre? How should it be funded? Who should lead this project?
Having a significant asset such as the Raumati Pool lay idle for so long is an invitation to vandalism and sells the Raumati community short. From research, the development of a Marine Discovery Centre seems an excellent fit given its location. Obviously some funding would have to come from KCDC and I think various government departments could be appropriate funders. This project also looks like an excellent opportunity for a contribution from central government via the Provincial Growth Fund.
- What are your views on the protection of our coastlines and key coastal infrastructure?
I guess this depends to some extent on how ‘our’ is defined. The reality is some of our coastlines are going to be changed by nature and holding back the sea is proving to be beyond the means of many councils. There are public assets which council is bound to protect, including roads and stormwater,