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'We're better off with Better Off Funding Package says mayor Smith; will help fund community hubs


31 Aug, 2022

 

Two new community hubs move a step closer with Kaipara District Council opting to apply for the Three Waters Better Off Funding Package, provided by Central Government, to help fund them.

Communities were consulted on building new libraries in Dargaville and Mangawhai before they were included in the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan with $7 million of initial funding allocated to them. Kaipara is eligible to apply for up to $4.04 million from 1 July 2022 and a further $12.11 million in 2024, which would enable the Council to complete the projects. The projects have been planned in phases, to fit with the funding tranches.

“We wanted to spend the money on new opportunities that would benefit as many people as possible,” says Kaipara mayor Jason Smith. “Because we have already consulted on the libraries we know they are something the community wants. This funding will enable us to get on and get them well-planned and then built.”

The two community hubs could each include a library, digital facilities, meeting rooms and a multi-purpose space that can be used for events, activities and learning. They would be designed to reflect our communities, incorporating history and Te Ao Maori design.

There are examples throughout Aotearoa New Zealand of similar buildings, such as the Te Ahu Centre in Kaitaia, Kawakawa Library, Waiheke Library and Te Matapihi Bulls Community Centre. There would be opportunity for the community to have input into aspects such as the location, as the project progresses.

Mayor Smith says people should not see the Council’s funding application as support for the Three Waters reform programme.

“The Government has confirmed that applying for the Better Off Funding Package will not inhibit our ability to continue to exercise our democratic right to express our concerns with the waters reform. Kaipara District Council is a member of Communities 4 Local Democracy and has consistently voiced opposition to the reform design.

“This funding is available to all Councils in New Zealand, whether or not they support the reforms. If we were not applying for this funding, Kaipara would need to find other funds to get these two community hub libraries built. Here’s a chance to make happen now what we’d expect would have been many years away. Improving the services available to Kaipara communities while being financially prudent is a focus for Council.”

Elected Members have had significant discussion about where to invest the funding, with some members of the public requesting it be spent on roading. However, the funding criteria does not allow for money to be spent on roading, any waters infrastructure or other operational costs.

Mayor Dr Jason Smith says the money is “a gift and an opportunity to plan for and then build significant assets for our communities and improve the well-being of Kaipara people”.

 

“The Government has confirmed that applying for the Better Off Funding Package will not inhibit our ability to continue to exercise our democratic right to express our concerns with the waters reform.

– Dr Jason Smith, Kaipara mayor


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