Rotorua city leaders are asking for $210 million in Government funding for core infrastructure projects expected to help reinvigorate the local economy in the fallout of Covid-19.
But a city business leader has said Rotorua Lakes Council could do more.
Rotorua joins a suite of other Bay of Plenty councils in applying for the Government's Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) Economic Stimulus Process, aimed at helping kickstart city-led projects stalled by Covid-19 restrictions.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said the council applied for funding to cover about $210m in city projects and "we'll share more detail about these projects with our community in the coming days".
A copy of the submission was not available to the Rotorua Daily Post but Chadwick said the projects included airport business park developments, wastewater schemes and aquatic centre redevelopments.
Roading and stormwater projects that would enable urban land development were also included, she said.
Chadwick said the council had also looked at added value for the lakefront and forest developments - already funded through the Provincial Growth Fund.
"We've had to move fast on this but all of these projects have the potential to provide economic stimulus as well as real and long-term benefits for our district," she said.
On Tuesday, Chadwick met the mayors and leaders of the Bay of Plenty's seven other districts. Tauranga City Council confirmed it was applying for projects worth more than $1 billion.
The Mayoral Forumwas followed by a rare joint media release from the leaders showing their unequivocal support for such funding requests of the Government.
The leaders saidCovid-19 had dealt a blow to the region that would be felt for a long time. A lot would have to be done to help communities get back on their feet.
They said the region would need many millions of dollars in infrastructure investment and much of this was existing work that could be brought forward.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said the CIP funding was an opportunity to create thousands of jobs and significantly inflate the local economy - through forestry.
"What I'd like to see, not just from Rotorua Lakes Council but all councils, is a focus on the opportunity that we've got to get more export logs processed as part of this whole rebuild programme," Heard said.
"What I'd like to see happen is a proactive wood procurement policy adopted right across the spectrum by all agencies.
"It's an opportunity to create and accommodate growth."
Heard said there were many advantages to wood - it was generally cheaper, more environmentally friendly and it was also a New Zealand-grown resource.
Foresty was also an area with a strong footing in Rotorua, he said.
The CIP funding was in addition to the Government's $12b New Zealand Upgrade Programme and existing Provincial Growth Fund.
An Infrastructure Industry Reference Group, to be headed by CIP chairman Mark Binns, would put forward shovel-ready projects submitted from councils to Government ministers.
The Government would then decide which could be funded, contracted and ready to go as soon as the construction workforce was able to return.
Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford said the Government was focussed on health and wellbeing of New Zealanders first and needed to get through the lockdown and out on the other side of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"However, the Government is also planning ahead for when that time comes," Twyford said.
"That's why we are now developing a pipeline of infrastructure projects from across the country that would be ready to begin as soon as we are able to move around freely and go back to work."
It is understood projects focusing on water, transport, clean energy and buildings plus those with regional benefits and creation of jobs will be prioritised.
The Infrastructure Industry Reference Group, which included NZ Transport Agency chairman Sir Brian Roche, KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller and Infrastructure Commission chairman Alan Bollard, would work alongside the Provincial Development Unit which had spent the past two and a half years working with regions and was well-equipped to identify shovel-ready projects up and down the country.
Applications will be assessed on the following criteria:
• Construction readiness: The extent to which the project is construction-ready now or within a realistic 6-12 months;
• Public or regional benefit: The project must be for infrastructure, and have public or regional benefit;
• Size and material employment benefits;
• Overall risks and benefits of the project.