The $452 million raised by a targeted rate to improve stormwater infrastructure and clean up the Waitematā Harbour has been highlighted as a long overdue win for the environment by Waitematā and Gulf Councillor Mike Lee.
“We live in a maritime region. Our harbours and the Gulf are central to who we are as Aucklanders,” he said.
“We can no longer keep ignoring the decline in what is one of our most precious assets, so the targeted rate enables action that is long overdue.”
Cr Lee, who has been working with the Stop Auckland Overflows Sewage Coalition to raise official awareness of the problem, and the importance of protecting our beaches for future generations, praised the strong public support for the rate.
“No one wants to pay more, but the level of support we have seen for this rate shows people care, understand that we need to act, and that years of under-investment and pretending the problem will go away can’t continue.
“What residents will no longer accept is a system that routinely dumps sewage-contaminated stormwater into the harbour.”
Historic $26 billion in investment
Auckland Council’s 10-year Budget agreed on a historic $26 billion in investment, a level Mayor Phil Goff says has never been seen before.
“This is fantastic for Auckland, beginning 10 years of transformation work that tackles the critical issues of transport congestion and protecting our environment.
“These issues have sat in the too hard basket for too long, but not anymore. This council has taken responsibility for delivering a better Auckland that will over time have a more efficient and effective transport network, more houses, cleaner water and a healthier environment.
“I want to thank Cr Lee for helping deliver this 10-year Budget and the largest ever investment in our region’s infrastructure,” he said.
The money from the water quality rate will allow what could have taken 30 years to achieve to happen in just 10 years, Goff says. “This will reduce wastewater overflows into our harbours by up to 90 per cent.”
Local initiatives approved
All three local boards in the Waitematā ward have had their key local initiatives approved.
Waitematā Local Board’s Ponsonby Park project has had funding allocated for an indicative business case, with delivery funding to come through a later annual plan process, subject to the business case.
The next steps are the preparation of an options paper on an earlier decision that requires the sale of the rear of the site at 254 Ponsonby Road, confirmation of scope and business case development.
Also outlined was indicative capital funding of $7.4m in Local Development Initiatives, $45 million parks assets renewals ($12.3 million in the next three years), and $2.4 million to upgrade Grey Lynn Park sports facilities.
The board was also a strong advocate of more funding for Auckland Art Gallery, which will receive an additional $2 million a year, and for the city’s growing numbers of homeless and rough sleepers, with $475,000 announced for the Auckland City Mission to improve its Hobson Street property.
On Waiheke, the transport component of the board’s initiative around the island’s gateway at Matiatia will get delivery funding from the Regional Fuel Tax.
The board can now complete a master plan and detailed business case for the transport component, and an indicative business case for non-transport development.
Key capital budgets outlined included $1.6 million for local initiatives and $14.6 million for parks asset renewals ($3.9 million in the next three years).
The board’s sustainability projects on Aotea / Great Barrier Island, including advancing solar power, have received funding, with the next steps being the allocation of funding and the implementation of the projects through Auckland Council’s Corporate Property and Sustainability teams.
The board’s capital budget includes $2.7 million for local initiatives, and $2 million in parks asset renewals, with $500,000 in the next three years.