ADVOCATE COLUMN 4th WEEK JANUARY 2018
Not a day goes by where there is not some report or another in the media relating to the pressure growth is putting on housing stock, roading or other infrastructure. In the past, these stories generally related to Auckland but recently they are echoed across many places which were once thought to be immune from such problems. Growth resulting from the last few years of a favourable economic environment will impact on our region for some time to come.
Growth is not necessarily a bad thing and there are many positives that can come from it such as improved employment opportunities and the chance for others in our communities to pursue their own business aspirations. Bigger population and more households should provide reassurance to fears of regions are going into decline. Potentially growth will provide a larger rating base to be invested in essential infrastructure. More visitors bring more opportunity to improve our reputation nationally and overseas. More families mean more students to ensure school roles do not fall.
If these are the silver lining then the cloud is that this offers cold comfort to the family that cannot find rental accommodation because there is simply insufficient housing stock available, or you wish to use public health services and government funding is severely lagging behind the actual growth in a regions population or your local schools’ physical capacity can no longer accommodate all those children who wish to and are eligible to attend. Not to mention traffic congestion.
So, we know our population is growing, we know this is not going to change in the near future and while there are demographers and evidence to suggest that one day these trends will reverse this is of little solace to those who are suffering from the growing pains now and for some time to come. This is why that hoping for the best is not a strategy for success. Our community leaders and central government need to be explicit in what their visions are for growth and how it will be accommodated, funded and managed in a manner that is fit for regional purpose. More importantly that it can be delivered in a way that is inclusive of all within our incredibly diverse communities. In some ways Northland is further along this path than some other regions due to the work already undertaken in the form of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan which in part provides a road map to where need to go.