SPORT THOUGHT

COMMENT:
Over the last 12 months, Sport Northland has been working closely with Whangārei District Council (WDC) and Sport New Zealand in the development of a strategy to identify the future facility and infrastructure needs for active recreation and sport across the Whangārei district.

Upon its completion, the Whangārei Active Recreation and Sport Strategy will provide a blueprint for the future spaces and places needs of the district for both organised sport and active recreation activities.

Sport Northland has been the vehicle for attracting 50 per cent of the funding (via Sport NZ) for the cost of the strategy development, a great result in itself for the district.

So why is a strategy of this kind necessary and why is WDC taking the lead on it? Here are a few reasons:

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· Active recreation and sport are part of our national identity and are both highly valued in Northland.

· Active recreation and sport contribute significantly to economic, social, environmental and cultural wellbeing of the community, and community development in general.

· For individuals, active recreation and sport contributes to physical and mental wellbeing, develops minds and bodies, helps us balance our lives amongst commitments, makes us more resilient and provides an opportunity to meet new people.

· For communities, it can foster a sense of togetherness and help people integrate.

One of the purposes of local government is to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of communities, in the present and for the future.

Active recreation and sport are influential in the wellbeing of communities and therefore providing infrastructure to enable it is a key part of WDC meeting its responsibilities to the community.

The end-product will be a 10-year high-level strategy for the future active recreation and sports needs of the district and will address the needs of Whangārei at both a local level and a district level.

The strategy will provide WDC with strategic direction in the development of active recreation and sport and spaces and places which we hope will lead to inclusion of projects in future WDC long-term plans.

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Extensive engagement has been undertaken over the last nine months and the feedback obtained from the community has been used to develop a draft strategy that was recently approved by WDC for distribution back to the community for further feedback.

The draft strategy identifies and prioritises key projects across the district while at the same time stressing that site and/or activity specific investigations will need to be undertaken to assess the feasibility and viability of each the individual projects.

The draft document will be open for comment for six weeks so it would be great to get as many Whangārei residents and local organisations as possible to submit.

If you would like to make a comment on the draft document go to council's website www.wdc.govt.nz/activerecreation where you can access the document and fill out the survey.