No more shovel-ready funding for Rotorua Lakes Council

8:48 pm on 24 September 2020

Despite high hopes for the creation of more than 1000 jobs, only two of eight Rotorua Lakes Council bids for shovel-ready funding have been granted.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick.

Photo: LDR / Rotorua Daily Post /Andrew Warner

Council strategy manager Jean-Paul Gaston told the Rotorua Daily Post confirmation had been received that the shovel-ready funding pool had been "fully allocated" and "nothing further" had been allocated to Rotorua.

"However [the] council will continue to explore opportunities and options for external funding opportunities to assist with projects and initiatives for our community."

The two projects that did receive funding were State Highway 30 / Te Ngae Rd upgrades and stormwater infrastructure to support housing development, and Kaingaroa Village developments, a joint submission with Te Puni Kōkiri.

The Te Ngae Rd urban development upgrades would receive $55 million, of which $25m would be assigned to the road, $5m for local road improvements and $15m for stormwater improvements.

The work was expected to create more than 200 jobs, with the potential for more in businesses on new industrial land, according to council documents.

The Kaingaroa Village development will receive $5m and would accelerate the Kaingaroa Village community development plan by providing capital funding to construct and install infrastructure and facilities.

The village project, worth $14m in total, was expected to create 100 jobs during construction, 20 ongoing roles and the potential for more in related small business, according to council documents.

Gaston said the council was in discussions with Te Puni Kōkiri about the Kaingaroa Village project.

"We will be working with the community to develop and deliver the plan for this work."

The council submitted eight projects to Crown Infrastructure Partners for consideration as part of the shovel-ready funding pool.

Those rejected were an upgrade to the Rotorua wastewater treatment plant, two projects for the airport - a hangar park and an industrial / business park, Rotoehu / Ngamotu reticulation, the aquatic centre, and extensions to the Whakarewarewa forest and Lakefront developments.

The council proposal for those projects estimated the creation of 648 jobs - but those weren't necessarily lost, so long as alternative funding was found.

Mayor Steve Chadwick said central government had "invested heavily" in Rotorua in recent years, and the Crown Infrastructure Partners shovel-ready projects process was "an additional opportunity for us".

"We certainly didn't expect to get funding for all projects we submitted to this pool of funding."

She said the projects were already part of the council's long-term planning with funding attached for some in the 2018-28 Long-Term Plan and there were intentions to seek private investment for others, such as the Lakefront and forest commercial buildings.

"The Crown Infrastructure Partners process was an opportunity to instead have some of these projects funded through central government and accelerated in terms of timeframe.

"We are pleased with the funding we have received as part of this process, and will keep exploring funding options and opportunities as appropriate and as they arise.

"Rotorua faces some tough challenges, many exacerbated by Covid, and we will keep talking to and working closely with central government to ensure ongoing support for our community."

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