Not long after I was elected to the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board, I requested an assessment of our stormwater infrastructure in the Hibiscus Coast area, as I understood our system to be underequipped to handle the impacts of a storm or flooding event. I was worried that any significant climate related event might impact our communities, and what followed were the unprecedented Auckland Anniversary weekend floods and Cyclone Gabrielle.
These emergencies revealed the need for active planning and communication regarding a localised civil defence response, as well as the need for a dramatically increased investment in our local storm water system.
I am pleased to share that the local board has started the investigation and planned implementation of official local civil defence shelters. This is being organised with the Whangaparāoa Community Response Group, so that when the next weather event arrives, our community knows where they can go for help and shelter.
The Mayor has announced a $20 million annual storm response fund, and we will be actively advocating for a share of that fund, and for Auckland Council to invest in notable improvements to our storm water infrastructure. Communities like Red Beach and Stanmore Bay are at considerable risk of continued inundation if council refuses to act.
I am incredibly pleased that the local board has supported a significant upgrade to our Ōrewa Library. This will add another upper level and increase the floor space and usable areas of our fantastic library and improve the services on offer.
Significant repair works are currently being carried out on the northern end of Ōrewa Beach, to replace stairs and restore the geography – this work is expected to be finished next month.
The Auckland Council annual budget meeting on Friday, June 9 produced a budget with a much smaller reduction in local board funding than we had previously been told to prepare for – resulting in a welcome bump to our annual budget. This is great news and will allow us more options to support the many community groups and organisations that rely on contestable grant funding.
Our local board will now have more funding available to support the many excellent environmental groups that operate in our area – such as Pest Free Hibiscus Coast. You may have read in Hibiscus Matters (HM June 12) that Pest Free Hibiscus Coast have recently conducted a feasibility study, to see if pest elimination is possible along the Hibiscus Coast, and this study produced exciting results. We are already seeing more native birds such as the tui, grey warbler, kereru, and (my favourite) the kingfisher increasing in populations locally. If you want to add a trap to your backyard to keep native birds safe and thriving, please get in touch with Pest Free Hibiscus Coast.