PAULA ON THE ISSUES

Housing

Doing nothing is not an option

We all know Hamilton house prices have sky-rocketed over the past 3-5 years. Times are really tough for many young people wishing to buy their first home as well as for seniors on fixed incomes.

Rates and rents have gone up and housing choices have become more limited.. There just aren't enough houses to meet demand. The lack of supply has driven up prices. To add to this the Building and Construction Industry have grave concerns about the numbers of trained and skilled workers to build the huge numbers of homes projected.

I would love to say that there is an overnight simple fix to ensure housing affordability in Hamilton, but this simply isn't the case. That being said, doing nothing is not an option. We must act to ensure our City remains accessible and affordable and can offer kind of lifestyle we want for our families and our community. But  we must work closely with government because Hamilton cannot solve, nor afford to,the housing crisis on it's own. Special Housing Areas offer some opportunities, and opening up new land will help. However, we need to enable those developers who have the means to get quality houses built at the best price to get underway. With the other costs needed to look after city assets the ratepayer cannot be expected to foot a large portion of growth costs in the short term. We must balance the needs to today's ratepayers with those of tomorrow.

We need to:

  1. Support Special Housing Areas to urgently address housing supply;
  2. Work proactively and constructively with central Government, landowners and developers to remove the existing barriers to building more homes. As one of New Zealand's fastest-growing cities. We made a successful bid for $143M loan from the Housing Infrastructure Fund. We need further conversation with government about their role in supporting the fastest growing cities.
  3. Make it easier to get resource consents and permits for housing.
  4. Ensure essential infrastructure, including roads and water, is well planned and supports developers and communities and this is funded by growth not existing ratepayers.
  5. Explore incentives and planning tools to encourage more affordable homes.
  6. Ensure sufficient land is released quickly for development at a pace the delivers homes but affordable and achievable.
  7. Maintain a balance between in-fill and greenfield housing, and high and low density development as well as entry level priced homes.
  8. Ensure new housing areas have the amenities needed for a thriving community. We don't want sprawling housing areas but thriving communities.

I want Hamilton to be a place everyone can call home; the young, families and the growing numbers of seniors. Hamilton has a wonderful opportunity to harness growth.

It's important that we don't just build a bigger city, but a better city.

Transport

More connections, better choices:

Hamiltonians want to be able to travel easily, cost effectively and safely around the city and beyond.

We should be able to easily access essential services; schools, medical facilities and shops and connect with other people and places in the city. The key to achieving this is to have quality choices.  We need to provide good infrastructure for private vehicles, public transport, walking and cycling and encourage our people to use all modes of transport and reduce reliance on the car.



Our businesses must have easy and efficient access to other markets and ports to succeed. Our city has huge potential to grow our tourism, manufacturing, logistic, innovation and primary sectors but all of these things need our roads, rail and domestic air transport to function well. We need to get this right to unlock our economic potential.



I want Hamilton be a city where getting around and doing business are easy, where there are transport choices that are effective and sustainable.

We need to:

  1. Plan to avoid future congestion. We don't want to become like Auckland;
  2. Build on and improve passenger transport around the City, especially to new sub-divisions;
  3. Work with our neighbours to implement and link up cycling and walking strategies and alternatives to roads alone;
  4. Strongly encourage the Government to bring forward the development of both freight and passenger rail – this includes investigating the viability a rail link from Hamilton to Auckland;
  5. Have effective transport links between the economic "golden triangle" of Hamilton, Auckland and Bay of Plenty.

Communities

Let’s not just build a bigger city,
let’s build a better city:

While affordable housing, timely infrastructure and a strong economy are vital for our city, it's strong and vibrant communities that make any city great to live in. Over the years I have seen how people value our community hubs, meeting places and green spaces. Communities and people thrive when they can connect with each other to enjoy sport, art and culture.

I am a strong advocate for the Hamilton River Plan and the restoration of gullies and special natural places and parks including Lake Waiwhakareke. I also support the development of a future proof, high quality theatre and am particularly keen to find ways this can be delivered in partnership to minimize to cost to ratepayers. Council needs to work collaboratively with local communities to deliver services and amenities that meet the needs of our residents. We should all have a say in the future of our city. We can't afford to do everything overnight, but should implement priorities over the short, medium and longer term. Communities have a right to understand and have a say in what the City Council plans to do for them.

I want a livable city not just a big city.

We need to:

  1. Seek funding partnerships that allow us to fast-track priority actions in the Hamilton River Plan;
  2. Work collaboratively with Creative Waikato, Sports Waikato, funders and developers to find smart way to fund affordable, quality facilities that enhance our quality of life;
  3. Deliver on existing local community plans in affordable increments;
  4. Actively engage with, and listen to, our community to deliver positive outcomes that are driven from the ground up;
  5. Continue to partner with the community and support volunteers to improve our amenities and green spaces.

Rates & Affordability

Keeping Hamilton affordable

Rates are always a tough issue; who should pay and how much. Over the last three years there has been great progress in dealing with debt. It needed to happen. And to do this some new activities were delayed along with the maintenance and renewal of existing assets. This cannot continue.


But we can't focus JUST on debt. We must also invest in vital aspects of a modern and growing City. We need to find a balance. I have proven I can work with others to drive organisational savings and ensure spending is prudent spending. Yes, we need to spend money. But we need to do so only in a way that's affordable for ratepayers. We need to drive a vision that funding partners want to invest in. We can't go it alone. That is why I opposed some costly projects that popped up out of the blue. I believe in community co-designing their future.

Growth pressures are taking up all the debt funding capacity but we can't keep tapping into the ratepayer alone. There must be total transparency and  ratepayers need to be involved in setting the levels of service for their city and this includes the pace of new growth. It is a balance to take care of today's citizens and tomorrows.

We need to:

  1. Keep a tight control over the costs of significant projects. Cost over-runs are simply not acceptable and should not be tolerated;
  2. Invest wisely in essential infrastructure and amenities at a pace we can afford;
  3. Partner with others to explore win-win solutions without ratepayers also having to pay all costs;
  4. Rate in a way that is affordable and fair for all residents.
 

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