The Far North District Council has presented 17 'shovel-ready' infrastructure projects for government funding, part of a national plan to stimulate the economy and reduce the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The projects were submitted last month to the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group, a taskforce set up by the government to seek out infrastructure projects around the country that would New Zealand boost spending and employment.
The projects had to be 'shovel-ready,' meaning planning was well advanced and a physical start could be made within six months.
The Far North projects include new water supplies for towns hit hard by the ongoing drought, upgrades to wastewater facilities, flood protection, roading upgrades, and plans to boost walking and cycling options for residents and visitors.
Mayor John Carter said it was still too early to say what the full impact of Covid-19 would be on the local economy, but the government's decision to prioritise construction projects across the country offered hope to under-resourced areas such as the Far North in that they were included in efforts to boost industry and employment in the post-Covid environment.
The projects presented had already been on the council's books, and many had been discussed with communities via long-term plan consultations. There was also a clear need for the new infrastructure, such as new water supplies for Kaitaia and Kaikohe, and significant upgrades to key rural roads.
"We undertook a detailed review of our most critical and most advanced projects, and I believe all of those we presented will satisfy the government's project criteria.
"I'm confident they have a very good chance of being funded," he said.
He says the projects included a strong focus on upskilling Far North workers: "The council not only wants to create employment, we want the skills those workers gain to lead on to new work and be self-sustaining once these projects are completed."
The Infrastructure Industry Reference Group was now considering projects submitted from around the country, and had yet to announce any decisions.
Developing the council bore at Sweetwater as a permanent water source for Kaitaia, replacing asbestos-cement pipes in Kaitaia's wastewater network, replace ageing and failing wastewater infrastructure, water storage for the Ngāwhā Innovation and Enterprise Park, maximising investment in water storage for primary production, extending the Neva Clarke McKenna Boardwalk at Mangonui, upgrading the wastewater plant at Taipā, extending the runway at Bay of Islands airport, upgrading Paihia's water supply, upgrading pump stations at Waitangi and Haruru, building paths and walkways, improving Kaitaia's flood resilience, enhancing the road maintenance programme, community-scale water storage for Kaikohe, sealing rural roads, redevelopment of Paihia's waterfront, addressing safety hazards on high-risk rural roads, developing cycle trails and walking tracks, and sealing 14km of Ruapekapeka Rd.
Added as an appendix are flood resilience works on West Coast Rd, Panguru, refurbishing the southern animal shelter, and building a new northern animal shelter.