Auckland's growth needs to be managed so local voice not lost
It's no secret that Auckland has been growing at a tremendous rate, in many cases faster than our infrastructure can keep up with. It's put a massive strain on our housing, transport, water and environment as well as the people who live here.
The good news is that the growth has slowed from 43,000 new residents a year, the bad news is that it's now 30,000 people. This is a significant drop but still represents a massive growth challenge for any city, especially one that has not kept pace with the growth so far.
It's awesome that people want to live in Auckland, it's not perfect but it's a great city. I love it here & understand why others want to come here too. But we need to take deliberate action to plan for this growth, including investing in our infrastructure.
Funding is a significant challenge, endless rates rises is not a sustainable solution to massive long term growth. It's good that the council has identified some alternative funding but we need a significant shift if we're going to see real investment. I've long advocated for rates reform and will continue to do so until we get a step change in how our cities and regions are supported.
Auckland Council has made some cost savings which is positive but there always more to find. Large organisations will always have efficiencies to be uncovered, especially as technology and processes evolve. This article mentions that "total savings over the next decade are estimated at $565m - with a further half billion dollars to be reached "in cost avoidance and savings" through the capital programme." which is good to hear. It's great that the CEO understands that it's essential that they constantly ask themselves "can we do even better". Most Aucklanders would emphatically say "yes, we can do better".
One of the justifications for merging the old councils into one Super City was that we’d get a more efficient and effective delivery of services if it was managed across the region. There’s some evidence that this is working but this quote from the CEO sums up one of the Councils greatest challenges - "The bit that is challenging is the local bit, the local board connection. There's very diverse views over whether that's working or not."
My view is that it’s not working. There are definitely some examples of where it does work, but for the most part it doesn’t.
Too often the local voice is lost in the noise, not maliciously but often disastrously. Stockade Hill is a great example of this – an issue that arose from the city wide Unitary Plan and has been a dreadful experience for the community and council for years since. Something as large as a unitary plan will need broad strokes, but there will always be a need for finer details at a local level. We’re hopefully closing in on a positive outcome, but it could’ve been avoided if the local voices had been heard by council. The same can be said of a number of other issues such as the school bus changes, park maintenance and many more. Too often I hear from locals that they don't both logging issues with council anymore as they never get resolved which is an appalling indictment on the loss of community voice.
This needs to change at all levels which means deliberate leadership from the mayor, council, our councillors and our local boards.