Waikato River plan delay frustrates mayor

Another delay in a structured river plan for the city has frustrated Mayor Julie Hardaker and she is disappointed councillors failed to endorse a staff report.

The council delayed the next step in the development of a Waikato River Plan and referred the matter back to another workshop in the New Year.

Mayor Hardaker says she has seen numerous reports prepared for successive councils and it's time to get on with a plan for the river.

"The timing, to coincide with other planning work the council has completed, means it makes sense to move forward with this work."

She said a plan for the river was the most important work the people of Hamilton had wanted for many years.

"Yet again that plan is delayed. Everyone who comes to this city asks why we don't do more with the river."

Ms Hardaker dismissed councillors' concerns about rushing into the process, or that the two tiered leadership group and advisory panel structure was too complicated, or that all elected members might not be involved in the process.

"The staff indicated there would be workshops and other opportunities for members to have input registered.

"It's about time Hamilton got on with this, but instead more delay means Hamiltonians are again missing out on the opportunities our river has to offer."

The staff report presented to the strategy and policy committee recommended the council endorse a terms of reference to establish a Waikato River Leadership Group which would comprise a cross-section of people with special interest areas and expertise, and include elected council representation.

The group would aim to formulate a plan for the development of the 16km stretch of the river within the Hamilton City boundary, including developing a long-term vision for the river and a plan for the city's engagement with the river that was to include a list of projects and development opportunities.

The staff report also recommend the leadership group be supported by an advisory panel comprising a wide cross section of the community.

- Hamilton News

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