Simon’s 13 March column in the Nor’West News

Today’s Nor’West News includes a column written by Simon, on the importance of community engagement. The digital edition of the paper can be found at https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/59892157/norwest-news-march-13-2018.

NorWest News column

Simon Britten works for a Papanui-based youth and community development organisation, and is the founder and curator of the Think Papanui Facebook page. He writes about the importance of community engagement and what’s going on in Papanui at the moment.

WHEN I stood as a Papanui- Innes Community Board candidate in the 2016 local body election I could see there was an opportunity for people to be more engaged with local government if they had better access to information about local issues and the activities of the city council and community boards. There is a lot of detail involved with their meetings and processes. Not everybody will read through the detail of board agendas and minutes, and it can be a challenge keeping track of proposals and opportunities to submit feedback to the city council.

Papanui-Innes Community Board deputy chairwoman Emma Norrish shared some great information in the Nor’West News about what the board is doing and how the public can get involved. The team at the Nor’West News also deserve credit for excellent coverage of local issues.

My own contribution is the Think Papanui Facebook page – an information source focused on the Papanui Ward (basically the suburbs of Papanui, Northcote, and Redwood). My aim is to share information on city council consultations, community board agenda items and decisions, local projects in action, and generally what’s happening in the community. All content is now also published on a website and in a weekly email newsletter.

Right now there are two really important plans being consulted on. Firstly, consultation is open on Environment Canterbury’s Long Term Plan. Of particular significance to the Papanui area is the proposal to discontinue the 107 and 108 bus routes. The consultation document also outlines ECan’s revenue and finance policy (remembering that we pay rates to ECan as well as to the city council), and plans including freshwater management and air quality. Feedback on public transport options and other aspects of the plan can be given until 26 March.

Secondly, on March 9 the city council published a consultation document on the city’s Long Term Plan. There may be a number of proposals in this that are relevant to the Papanui ward. Two that have been signalled already are changes to the cycleway programme (more spending and later completion), and as covered by the Nor’West News last week, potentially increased powers for community boards to act on intersection upgrades. For more information on the city’s Long Term Plan keep an eye on city council communication channels as well as Think Papanui (and, I’m sure, the Nor’West News).

•Think Papanui can be found at facebook.com/ThinkPapanui and www.thinkpapanui.nz