Throughout this local election campaign there has been much talk and discussion about the Government's proposed expressway bypass. Some people will be deciding their voting based on a candidate's position regarding the expressway proposal.
It is certainly a major issue for our community to deal with. However, it is not the only issue. Our community is shaped by far more than the roads that go through it.
This election is also about what kind of a community we want, what our values are, what our priorities are, and what we want for our children and grandchildren.
We haven't heard much about water privatisation lately, yet in July the current Council passed the Water Supply Bylaw 2010 which allows water metering throughout the district. This is not a benign response to discourage water use. It is a step on the road to privatisation of our water supplies. Nowhere in the world has water metering been introduced without privatisation following. Do we want a world where our water is taken from us and sold back in plastic bottles?
Nobody has mentioned the appalling youth suicide rate on the Coast – the highest in the world! Shame on us all for that fact. What are we going to do for our young people? I fully support Mayor Jenny Rowan's call for zero unemployment for young people – let's get the secondary schools, training institutions and business community working together on this. We are a relatively small community so it's not hard to do. Let's get some places where young people can hang out safely. And let's make sure that Kapiti Youth Support continues to be well supported by Council. It's not the total answer – but it is a start. Council has a leadership role in our community and this is an area it needs to take leadership on.
Kapiti Business and Professional Women initiated a proposal for a Community Justice Centre where full court registry services, tribunal and mediation services could be available here in Paraparaumu. This is a unique concept for New Zealand and one which will facilitate access to justice for Kapiti residents. The incoming Council needs to drive this initiative and include it in the KCDC Annual District Plan.
Coastal erosion is the elephant in the room. Although the Environment Ministry advises Councils to plan for sea level rises of at least 50cm over the next 80 years, the Royal Society of New Zealand recently suggested rises of 1.9m or more are likely. As a coastal community Kapiti is particularly susceptible to the increased risk of erosion, flooding, king tides, and salt intrusion into ground water aquifers. These risks need to be an integral part of the decision making process on infrastructure and development issues.
Balancing the budget is a painful process but living within our means is something we all have to do. This does not mean stagnating or living joyless lives. It does mean some hard decisions will need to be made weighing up the pros and cons of improvement and development projects. It also will require a finely tuned balancing act between competing and contradictory opinions, needs, scientific analysis, costs, benefits and values.
We have heard, and will continue to hear, many different and well presented views from council candidates. Some very good people are standing in these elections. In casting your votes I urge you to consider a candidate's ability to work collaboratively across a wide range of complex issues to build the sort of community that our children and grandchildren will be proud and happy to be part of.
Marilyn Stephens is a candidate for a council seat in the Paraparaumu Ward.