Speech to the Western Ward, Meet the Candidates event
Porirua City Council Elections 2016
Tuesday 27 September 2016, 7pm-9pm
Titahi Bay Intermediate School
Kia ora tātou and Fakaalofa lahi atu
Thank you Renee and Sarah of the Titahi Bay Community Group for this opportunity to speak to you all this evening, particularly at a school that I attended in the early 1970s when my parents lived in Elsdon and we had returned from living in Niue.
My name is Chris Wilson and I’ve lived in Porirua City for 28 years now, the last four years in Titahi Bay.
My father was a public servant and my mother a teacher and it is with the same spirit of service that I have offered myself as a candidate for this ward. I believe candidates should be representing voters’ interests.
One of these interests I believe is to help minimise residential rate increases. This helps home-owners and, indirectly, those renting. I think we can further diversify our rating base by encouraging more high-value businesses to locate to Porirua. I know from large companies I’ve spoken to, like Webster Drilling, that Porirua City is ideal for their business with good transport connections, cheaper rentals and attractive recreational features for their staff. I think as a communications consultant myself that the council could mount a much stronger campaign to promote the city throughout New Zealand. If we can attract more high-value businesses, and further diversity our rating base, we can help take the pressure off residential rates.
My own view is that the previous council was overly prudent in its last 10-year plan. It focused on achieving a balanced budget in five years’ time, during a period of high investment where it was also finding, for example, $20 million-worth of link roads for Transmission Gully. I think the council can afford to come back to a balanced budget over a longer period, allowing it to invest in a few key things that are going to make a real difference along the way to the people of Porirua.
I believe one of these things should be adoption of a Living Wage by the council, and submissions this year on the annual plan supported that. A Living Wage not only helps council employees but has a flow-on effect to the wider community.
I’d also like to see council give a higher priority to upgrading stormwater systems so we see an end to flooding of homes and businesses in Porirua City.
I support the revitalisation of the city centre and would also support as part of this project providing shelter for pedestrians walking between Porirua Station and North City shopping centre.
I’d like to see better train and bus connections in the city, including to Elsdon and Titahi Bay. Can we get a Sunday bus service for Elsdon, for example? Better public transport would particularly help those on low wages or those wanting to reduce their carbon footprint.
Similarly, I would advocate for council to improve walking and cycling infrastructure over time. We’ve invested in our roads – now it’s time for footpaths and cycleways so we invest in the health of our people and help reduce carbon in this era of global warming.
I think Porirua’s recreational attractions, beautiful landscape and cultural diversity are a real point of difference in the wider Wellington region. I think council should continue to invest in these, including keeping near the top of the agenda building a decent performing arts space. I think we should have another look at this as part of an enhanced Pataka complex because Pataka has become a real ‘go-to’ destination for visitors to Porirua.
I hope this gives you a taste of the interests I’d be representing on council, should you vote for me.
[Authorised by Chris Wilson, Unit 23, 26 View Road, Titahi Bay]
Here is my written submission to the Local Government Commission, which began hearing verbal submissions on its proposal for local government reform in the Wellington region this week:
"I think greater Wellington is too small a city to have the number of local councils we have. Within Porirua, I read of our council deliberating on usually relatively minor matters. We should concentrate democratic, coordinated and considered decision-making at a regional level – not at the area levels of the greater Wellington city. I think the proposed structure strikes an excellent balance. Its territory recognises the interconnectedness between the different areas too.
"I also believe it will be easier for greater Wellington to present a cohesive face internationally and within New Zealand with this new structure. Having taken part in the Wellington mayoral trade delegation to Shanghai in 2010, I know that you introduce yourself from New Zealand first and Wellington next. You leave it there, as most people living an overnight plane trip from New Zealand will need Wellington described to them. You don’t usually have an opportunity to talk about the local areas.
"There are though some distinct areas of difference within greater Wellington. For example, the population profile of Porirua. It seems to me, however, that this new structure will allow these differences to be represented.
"While I live in Titahi Bay, Porirua, most of my work comes from Wellington where I commute to most working days. This new structure will allow me an opportunity to contribute ideas to the wider city.
"I also like the idea to retain local economic development offices, which can have their fingers on the pulse. (I drafted three economic development strategies for the Porirua City Council in 2012.) However, the offices need to stay coordinated too across the greater city.
"I’m not so sure about the retention of a couple of the other responsibilities at a local level. I suggest decisions on both local transport and events need to be made in coordination with the greater city so that synergies are maintained.
"The structure looks a good basis to begin, however. I support the intent behind it."
Asked what I thought good local government would look like, I wrote:
"Good local government will represent the people to continue to develop a city that is collegial, creative and aspirational. Good local government will continue to support reliable green transport (including better options for cyclists), high quality entertainment and recreation, and a culturally-diverse educated population where people feel they have a role to play in the city’s future."
What do you think?
Last month, the Porirua City Council published the third economic development discussion document I had largely drafted for them. The three documents are strategies for global business, and the digital and services industries.
I was delighted to work with the council on this project, as I have lived in the wider city for 25 years in the seaside ‘villages’ of Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay, Whitby and now Titahi Bay – 20 minutes north of Wellington City.
I first met the council’s economic development manager, Chris Lipscombe, on my trip to Shanghai in 2010 with the Wellington mayoral delegation. It was great to sit around the table with him again, and his colleague Sakirin Sapeas, sip some Chinese tea and share their thinking and enthusiasm.
Each of the discussion documents needed to summarise international, New Zealand and Wellington regional trends in plain English for the city’s residents. They also had to be structured in an inviting way and propose half a dozen recommendations for the council to act on for the city.
The council didn’t have a lot of money to plough into these recommendations, although it is uniquely positioned to act as a catalyst for them. The work drew on my 20 years of experience in economic development and trade.
As well as assisting my local city, the project was an opportunity to discover some fascinating trends in the digital and services industries, and also in trade.
Did you know for example that ultra fast broadband applications could reduce missed school days in New Zealand by 25 million?
That the services industry accounted for 71 percent of New Zealand GDP in 2011?
And that there are 20 exporters in Porirua City with a turnover of over $10 million?
After a consultation phase, the documents will set out planned activities from next year and long-term goals.