The process of formal consultation and engagement puts all of our Annual Plan projects under the microscope.
It was a lot of work. Council publicised on the website, social media and in local newspapers. Councillors and Council staff attended community gatherings and events, and interacted via email, messenger and telephone.
Once all submissions and feedback were received, they were assessed, recorded, debated and integrated with the existing plan where possible.
For the 2019-20 Annual Plan, we received 737 individual comments and 178 submissions.
The beauty of this document (in addition to the financial and organisational clarity it gives us) is that we get to touch base with the people in our District, gathering feedback and assessing needs as communities grow and change.
Now we have three other documents out for consultation.
The District's Growth Strategy is being reviewed, and your feedback is an important part of the process. The Growth Strategy addresses key issues like housing choice and affordability, and infrastructure needs to support growth and good design.
Of course, different communities will have different views. People want to know that new houses, public spaces and businesses will be well designed, while some communities would prefer their area to not grow at all.
Now is the time to have your say: Is our strategy setting a clear vision for the future? Does it address the challenges of continued growth? What, if anything, is missing? Please take the time to read the plan and have your say. We value your input.
Urban and Services Plan changes
This is a big one. Do you live in any of these areas?
• Whangārei city
• Marsden Point
If you do, the proposed Urban and Services Plan changes will affect the zones and rules in these areas, so it's very important that you take a look at the draft document. These changes also affect the zoning of open spaces (like parks and conservation areas) across the District, including rules for transport, three-waters (water supply, stormwater and wastewater), earthworks, signs and lighting.
Class 4 Gambling Venue Policy
The number of venues with pokie machines in the District has fallen from 33 in 2003 to 20 since Council adopted a "sinking lid" in its gambling venue policy. Our Class 4 Gambling Venue Policy is in the process of being reviewed again, and Council must consult with the community, to ensure everyone has the chance to provide feedback.
Now is the time to get involved, have your say, and play a part in the future of our District.
To view these documents and to provide feedback, please visit Council's website at www.wdc.govt.nz and search for the name of the policy document, or visit Whangārei or Ruakaka Council customer service centres.
• Sheryl Mai is mayor of Whangarei District.