The past months have brought about unprecidented change for everyone. It hasn’t been one community put on hold, or one region that needs to recover. And because of the wide spread nature, the impacts are deep. But recovery will come. Only this week with the shift to Level 3, we have seen a return of optimism and a bustle in the streets, albeit with physical distancing in place for the foreseeable future.
With many unknowns, it’s hard to predict with any level of certainty what our communities will look and feel like in the months and years to come. What we do know though, is that we all need places to live, work and play. The shape of these will undoubtedly be altered to better reflect the needs of our communities.
Regional growth is happening. Covid-19 won’t have stemed this tide. Infact it may only increase the rate of spill from big cities and we need to factor in expats returning home. There will be continued pressure on water, housing and transport sectors. Hospitals will also have jumped up the list of importance in recent weeks.
Infrastructre investment is needed, and we need to respond with smart solutions fast.
This article from NZ Herald, April 30th, talks with Infrastructure NZ CEO Paul Blair about the path forwards. He talks about the need for partnership. “Local government is where some of the greatest need is and where the greatest leverage can be exerted,” says Blair. “In these times partnership will be essential. Central and local government need to be working together, not at cross-purposes – he waka eke noa.”
Just this week, Waikato and Waipa councils pitched 23 shovel-ready projects to the Government plus a further nine packages of work focusing on medium to longer-term opportunities. The Te Awamutu Courier quoted these shovel-ready proposals, as being worth $1.5 billion, with hope to garner the support of Crown Ministers over the coming weeks.
Infrastructure spend is a no-brainer. It is a social and economic enabler – it equals jobs at a time when unemployment has spiked, it addresses overdue work and provides for the future. More importantly, the cost of not investing is far greater because we’ll be hit with housing shortfalls and a substandard network of pipes and roads that fail and cost us more.
Longterm vision and a multidisicplinary, collaborative approach ensures careful guidance and smart solutions for recovery and growth phases. BTW are excited to be in an industry that puts us at the table for discussions and solution finding for many of the challenges we face. Our established systems, specialist expertise and most importantly trusted cross-sector relationships will be key to responding with immediacy. We also recognise that the pause and upheaval Covid-19 has caused, may be the catalyst for change and action that we need. No longer can we afford to be in a perpetual state of over-analayis, but there is real need to move forward. “We all share a common goal to re-inflate the economy and adapt to the new normal. Urban growth partnerships are a core part of the Government’s urban growth agenda, we now call for these to be funded and delivered at pace.”, says Paul Blair.
Let’s not lose sight for the need to place people at the center of solutions. Smart solutions to housing, transport, water and environment challenges must tick both economic and social wellbeing boxes. Let’s make it happen.