More than 2000 people are expected to turn out to a $23,000 Whangārei District Council Pohe Island family fun day today aimed at Draft Long Term Plan public consultation with a twist.
"We wanted to reach out to people not necessarily reached by our public meetings, Facebook and the like," said Jane Ashley, WDC communications manager.
"Those who might be busy during the week can bring their kids and have some fun."
Half a dozen separately-themed zones and a special "have your say" tent will be in the mix along with kids' bikes as prizes, face painting, bouncy castles, mini-cars, circus activities, library bus games and free coffee, fruit and barbecue.
The three kids' bikes as prizes are for a competition where a passport, stamped at each of the fun day zones, goes into a 1pm onsite lucky draw.
The 10am –1pm event is aimed at getting families and others to turn up en masse, with lots for kids to do in each zone while parents/caregivers learn more about and have their say on how WDC uses its ratepayers' funds and other income over the next decade in a $3 billion budget spend.
The council is proposing a 6.5 per cent rates hike from July for 2021/2022, the first year of this decade-long budget. This will be followed by nine years of consecutive average annual 4.5 per cent rates rises from 2022/2023 to 2030/2031. This means a person paying $2000 in rates at present will see those rates rise to $3165 by 2030/2031.
Councils are required by law to ask their people what they think of the Long Term Plan budgeting that underpins their coming decade's spend. WDC's Draft 2021-2031 Long Term Plan month-long public consultation ends on April 1.
The three-hour fun day's money zone is themed around the first major topic the council is wanting public feedback on. It wants to hear what people think about WDC's forecast rates rises over the next decade and plans to up its borrowing towards major projects.
This zone will include library bus games activities for the kids.
The fun day's performance zone will look at $40 million of new council spending plans on places for gathering. The zone focuses on complex proposed spending plans in this budget area. It looks at whether and how the council spends across up to three existing and/or new different gathering places.
The first of these venues is the $93m Oruku Landing Conference and Events Centre at the edge of the Town Basin on Riverside Dr.
WDC wants to put $23m towards this project for its related infrastructure, including roading, stormwater and wastewater networks. The Government has offered a $60m grant from the Covid Response and Recovery Fund to build the facility. An additional $14m is expected from Northland Regional Council for fit-out.
WDC also wants to know public thoughts about putting $5m towards another venue, the Hihiaua Cultural Centre, and $12m for Forum North improvements. A whole new theatre built on the existing Forum North site, once the council exits that building for its new Rust Avenue Civic Centre, is an alternative for the Forum North site.
WDC's preferred option is to put money across three gathering venues, but a range of scenarios is being put forward for public say.
Circus performers and face-painting activities feature in this zone.
The fun day's environment zone is themed around the proposed new $3.7m spend on climate change and sustainability. WDC wants to put the money towards mitigating the impacts of climate change and waste management. Kids' rubbish relays will be in this zone.
A transport zone will be where WDC CEO Rob Forlong and others discuss plans for an extra $47m towards sealing the district's roads. WDC is also proposing $37m for further developing cycleway and shared path networks in Whangārei and Waipū to Waipū Cove. A mini-cars kids' activity will be in this zone.
The fun day's city zone will look at another major topic – revitalising Whangārei's city centre. It's proposing a $13m spend to better connect Whangārei's central business area with the Town Basin. This will come via improvements to James and John Sts including reducing vehicle access to allow for outdoor dining, markets and other events and activities, more pedestrian spaces, seating and native planting and new street furniture. This zone includes a bouncy castles kids' activity.
Senior management and WDC staff will be at each fan zone.
A standalone "have your say" gazebo will be a chance for those present to make submissions and represent their views, which can also be given at each tent. Online submissions can be done at www.wdc.govt.nz/HaveYourSay.