The Past & Next Three Years
In the past three years Council has completed a number of projects to improve the District – here are just some of them:
- The net Debt level has reduced by $18million over the past three years ending 30 June 2016 due to $8 million from the EDNZ sale, $2 million from our debt repayment levy and the balance from other sources and efficiencies driven through the organisation.
- A new CEO has been appointment and is restructuring Council operations and is already bringing savings to significantly reduce projected rates increases.
- Our population, jobs, house prices, tourism and business confidence are all rising for 2 straight years in a row. The District’s total Capital value has grown by approximately $100 million in three years – largely due to new developments – not just revaluations.
- Sealing of the Whanganui River Road is complete which is improving tourism access and volume.
- The new community glass facility will open in September 2016 securing the long term future of glass art as a unique feature of Whanganui.
- Sealed and redeveloped the Taupo Quay river front area which is becoming a popular tourist destination.
- Relocated the Sarjeant Gallery to Taupo Quay to safeguard the $30million national and international collection in preparation for the redevelopment of this 5% earthquake prone building.
- The Alexander Heritage Library has been fully earthquake strengthened and the valuable collection of heritage books and documents are now protected from atmospheric decay due to a climate control system funded from Lotteries grants.
- The Royal Opera House has been earthquake strengthened and upgraded for fire protection.
- Council has put in enormous efforts to recover from the devastating floods of one year ago, including road rebuilding. NZTA now has responsibility for repairing state highway roads and the riverbank.
- A Town Centre Regeneration Study has been completed and action is being taken to attract new retailers into the CBD. Retail is constantly changing and the available space has been expanding with new buildings rather than shrinking. Animates Pet chain are building a new store on the cnr of Dublin & Victoria Avenue and Wallace Developments are undertaking a full redevelopment in the second block, retaining the heritage frontage and all new stores are already under contract with new tenants.
- The Wanganui East swimming pool is being maintained and slowly upgraded.
- The recycling centre has been relocated and upgraded to better manage recyclable materials, in partnership with local Iwi and with government waste minimisation special funding.
- Formal partnerships are established with UCOL and Whanganui Iwi to grow support for education and employment. UCOL has made a significant investment in upgrading their three heritage Design & Arts buildings.
- A new blueprint for the Port development has been completed and the No 1 wharf has been rebuilt together with the slipway. The Government has announced $500,000 funding for a comprehensive feasibility study to assess the full potential of the port area including an expansion of the marine industry and ferry proposal by Neville Johnson. Q-West Boatbuilding have also confirmed their long term future and expansion.
We’ve also approved and budgeted for a number of significant projects that will be completed within the next three years including:
- Even with all these significant projects, our new CEO is positive he can bring rates increases within the 2%-3% range – a fantastic achievement and an exciting future for Whanganui.
- The Mountains to Sea national cycleway of significance extension from Upokongaro to the city is in final stages of planning. A Three meter wide Cycle/walkway from the city bridge to the North Mole and Cycle/walkway from the City bridge to St Johns Hill via St Hill Street are underway.
- Sarjeant Gallery Redevelopment project is confirmed and fundraising is well underway, with over $20 million raised externally already. The Gallery should reopen in late 2019 – the 100 year anniversary of the Gallery with $5 million investment from rates and $27 million funded from donations and grants.
- A Wastewater treatment plant will be built– see my news item on this important issue. All wastewater industries currently operating in Whanganui have confirmed their commitment to staying in Whanganui with the AFFCO group exploring their own options for treatment – as they do elsewhere.
- The International Flight School has been purchased from Fielding and is to be relocated at the Whanganui Airport – helping to boost the finances of the airport and attract NZ and international students.
- The Airport Control Tower is being supported to assist its external waterproofing to supplement the significant funds raised by the Airport Control Tower committee.
- The Mills Road to Heads Road water catchment area is to have significant drainage work undertaken to prevent future flooding risk.
- The Regional Growth Study and resulting Accelerate 25 Project is underway which will support developments in agriculture, honey and our port including marine industry – its just a start!
- The Whanganui Regional Museum earthquake strengthening project is just getting underway and will be completed by the end of 2018. This will include rejuvenation of the interior with supplementary funding from lotteries. The nationally and internationally significant collection is valued at $30million and the building is less than 3% of current earthquake code!
- Council has funded $200,000 toward upgrading the Castlecliff area and is working with the community to realise their dreams for the area. The Surf Life Saving club and Rotunda will benefit also.