In my view, the principle of ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ has special application to the Hibiscus Coast. When it comes to freedom camping, dog rules, set netting, service centres, youth facilities, park and ride, bus services, boat launching, cycling, and much more, we have differences. Our beaches and coastal/marine lifestyle, city edge location and historical under-funding in a number of areas mean that Auckland-wide rules and regulations need local differences in approach.
Coming up are a number of opportunities to make the council take these differences into account. From February 17 to March 17 is submission time on the Annual Plan or budget – this decides where the money is spent for the year. Consultation and decisions happen over freedom camping, dog rules and water strategy are underway and take some months. A Marina Strategy process that affects Gulf Harbour and other marinas is starting.
Across many issues there are often groups already up to speed with a position that may work for you and the opportunity to follow their lead.
An important consideration for anything is funding. For example, a better bylaw that addresses concerns around freedom camping at our parks and beach areas is fine – but if the money and application is not there for enforcement, the problem behaviour is not addressed. We need adequate money for a marina strategy that deals with issues like adequate future parking for ferry users, boat launching and recreation. We need better support and facilities for our youth – this requires funding. Simple things like better signage at beaches advising on vehicle limitations need more funding. More park and ride facilities are required because Silverdale is full. Bus fare increases can be brought back to encourage more drivers to get out of cars. The list goes on.
This year, especially, there are big issues coming up. I’ve mentioned marinas. Then there are venues and stadiums, transport issues like light rail, port locations, budget issues – especially if the City Rail project costs more (which I consider highly likely), confronting coastal erosion and climate change.
More than ever, I’ve found it important to do the homework, talk with stakeholders and challenge parts of council that may not see the bigger picture. For example, selling off marina space now will mean no space later for future growth in ferry use, boat launching and recreation. Often the answers are out there and another city somewhere has worked through the issue successfully.
So consider making a submission, engaging in a process, being part of a group that cares about an issue. You can make a difference.