After months of consultation, discussion and many council meetings, we have passed our ten-year budget.
It funds our libraries, rubbish, parks, sports fields, water quality, action on kauri dieback, arts, events, community services, the zoo, roads, public transport and everything in between. Our budget includes a record $26 billion investment in infrastructure with significant benefits here on the North Shore. We voted unanimously as a Council with Mayor Goff to support the budget and the significant improvements we will make to transport, water, and the environment.
This will finally allow us to protect what we have while investing in our future. Local residents tell me their priorities are: improving public transport and unclogging our roads, fixing water quality problems, protecting our coast from erosion, and making it safer for local kids to walk and cycle to school. This is the largest ever budget to address these priorities and I look forward to help delivering on them.
Large transport projects for the North Shore include: securing $47m for the Lake Road upgrade that will focus on transit lanes, intersection optimisation and walking and cycling. We worked with Auckland Transport and Devonport Takapuna Local Board on this, and funding from the regional fuel tax enables it be brought forward to 2020/2021. The long awaited Skypath across the harbour is happening over the next three years, which will join up with Seapath bringing Takapuna and surrounding suburbs within walking and cycling distance of the city for the first time ever. The new network will increase bus service capacity on the Shore by 45% this September.
Our transport agreement with Government will fund urgent route protection and investigation for a third harbour crossing. $60million is budgeted for the first time to kick this off. It is likely to start with light rail and we’ve worked to bring the project forward around 15 years from where the last Government agreement had it listed.
Transport projects outside the Shore will also keep us moving: upgrades and extension to the downtown ferry terminal will enable us to increase services to and from the city; Penlink will link Whangaparoa to the CBD; the Northern Busway extends from Constellation Drive to Albany, with bus lanes to Silverdale, which reduces congestion in our suburbs and on the bridge.
We are addressing water quality issues with the safe swim programme and upgrading the stormwater system at Takapuna Beach, with works across public and private pipe systems being extensively tested, and works being looked at for quick fixes and long term strategies to protect our beach.
We are protecting our kauri with an increase in funding from $5m to $100m to keep kauri dieback out of our native bush reserves, while climate and coastal erosion budgets have been created to help us deal with the constant damage to our coastline due to storms and king tides.
Although no budget will do everything we want at once, it is a huge improvement and I’m excited that it’s investing far more than ever before into our communities.
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