28 April 2020
COVID 19 CORONAVIRUS: 1000 + POTENTIAL JOBS IN ROTORUA LAKES COUNCIL’S ‘SHOVEL READY’ PROJECT BID
By: Felix Desmarais
Local Democracy Reporter
More than a thousand jobs could be created if the Government accepts Rotorua’s $210 million bid for for seven “shovel-ready” projects as part of the Covid-19 economic response. Projects submitted included upgrades to urban development, Rotorua’s wastewater treatment plant, the aquatic centre, Whakarewarewa forest and new jetties and a building for the Rotorua lakefront. The “shovel-ready” projects – those that were able to begin within 6-12 months – were put forward as part of Rotorua Lakes Council’s bid to Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) for consideration for government funding. Mayor Steve Chadwick said bringing each project forward – where “prudent and feasible” – would provide stimulus in the response to Covid-19 by providing jobs.
“Our local economy has been devastated and there are many strands to the recovery plan, including bringing businesses from all sectors together to develop strategies. That work is underway. “[The] Government’s call for ‘shovel-ready’ projects provides an additional opportunity alongside the other work that will need to happen to help our economy recover.” The lakefront and forest redevelopments had already received government funding but Covid-19 had put private sector investment, and therefore economic benefits like jobs, at risk, she said.
“Further government funding would enable us to still realise those benefits.” The council had also co-submitted, with Te Puni Kokiri, to add to work on Kaingaroa Village to improve housing, infrastructure and community facilities. Chadwick said there were other Rotorua projects submitted by government agencies such as NZTA, so the district was well-represented in submissions.
“We’ve had to move fast on this but our submission reflects existing plans and partnerships with Te Arawa iwi and government agencies, and supports transformational change for our district and economy.” Submitting, however, didn’t mean guaranteed funding, but Chadwick said the council had been “careful to ensure our projects meet the criteria” and aligned with its Build Back Better Rotorua economic recovery strategy. Projects from around the Bay of Plenty region had also been submitted and endorsed by the Bay of Plenty Mayoral Forum. “We recognise the region as a whole will require investment to aid recovery but acknowledge each district faces unique challenges that will require different responses.”
The criteria ring-fencing applications included construction readiness, public or regional benefit, size and material employment benefits and the overall risks and benefits of the project. The Rotorua Daily Post requested a copy of the submission last week and again on Thursday, but the council was unable to provide it as commercially sensitive information needed to be redacted. Last week, Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said the government funding was an opportunity to create thousands of jobs and boost the local economy – through forestry.
ROTORUA’S SHOVEL-READY PROJECTS:
State Highway 30 (Te Ngae Rd) roading upgrades, stormwater infrastructure development and Ngati Whakaue Tribal Lands capability investment. This project is touted to remove barriers to housing and industrial development and to help facilitate development of Maori land. This submission proposes upgrades (estimated $15m-$20m) of four intersections at Wharenui Rd, Brent Rd, Basley Rd and airport/Eastgate and stormwater infrastructure (estimated over $5m-$10m). The project is currently unfunded but has been recognised as a priority for central government intervention. Estimated 200+ jobs, and potential for more in businesses on new industrial land.
Rotorua wastewater treatment plant upgrade
Currently part of the council’s 2018-2028 Long Term Plan. The application to CIP relates to treatment plant upgrade only, not discharge. Total estimated cost $60m-$65m and was originally to be funded via borrowing. Estimated minimum 50 jobs created over a two-year period.
a) Comprehensive hangar park
Part of the airport master plan, which has been in development for more than two years. Covid-19 has disrupted the ability to fund and start the project. The plan is for a “comprehensive hangar park” that can be used for a variety of aviation purposes as well as light industry type activities, such as storage. The CIP submission sought $8.6m (50 per cent of the total cost). Estimated 200-300 jobs.
b) Industrial/business park
Also part of the airport’s master plan. It will help the airport to leverage value from its unused land and diversify its revenue, as well as opening up needed industrial land for the likes of logistics, manufacturing and other commercial/industrial uses. $13.35m was sought (50 per cent of the total cost) to enable currently halted project to continue. The uses and businesses being targeted for the business park will be those that complement the airport activities and are not anticipated to impact the viability of the CBD. Estimated 150-200 jobs.
Lake Rotoehu is a priority lake for restoration as part of the Te Arawa Lakes restoration programme, in which Rotorua Lakes Council is a partner. This project would see Rotoehu communities connected to the new East Rotoiti/Rotoma network. Included in council’s 2018-28 Long Term Plan, this project – estimated total cost $10m – currently has no confirmed funding. Council documents say this would have environmental benefits through improved water quality and would enable land for housing – and associated jobs. Estimated 15 jobs per year for about two years.
Rotorua aquatic centre
Aquatic Centre improvements were included in the council’s 2018-28 Long Term Plan, with committing $7.5m to improve the 50m outdoor pool and for key refurbishments required to support proposed further developments. Additional funding was to be sought externally for further proposed developments at a total estimated cost of $15.43m. That would include a new Learn to Swim facility, hydro slide and water splash attraction, bombing pool, new poolside gymnasium, and expansion of change rooms and administration areas, with additional space for a food outlet, retail, children’s party space and child minding services. Potential to be a “key attraction” according to council documents. Estimated 80 jobs.
Whakarewarewa forest and trail development
This proposed project would be an extension of the $14.5m Whakarewarewa Forest redevelopments which are already partially completed. Future investment is at risk due to Covid-19. The proposed project has a total estimated cost of $13.9m and includes construction of commercial buildings at Forest Hub 2 near Lake Tikitapu. Estimated 85-100 jobs for a minimum of 12 months with the potential for about 40 or more once occupied.
An extension of the currently proposed $40m lakefront redevelopment. Some private investment may now be at risk due to Covid-19. Extra funding – $17.2m – has been sought for the construction of commercial buildings, high-quality jetties and the development of Ohinemutu Village. Estimated 28 jobs, with the potential for more once completed (estimated at 54 jobs).
A joint submission with Te Puni Kokiri, this project will accelerate the Kaingaroa Village community development plan by providing capital funding to construct and install infrastructure and facilities. Included would be a new water bore and underground infrastructure, upgraded roading, new streetlights, new parks and playgrounds, refurbished community facilities including the village council buildings, marae, school, parks and reserves and village hall. Planning and design work has begun for this project, however, construction is not yet under way due to lack of funding. $4.9m was sought for the $14m project. Estimated 100 jobs during construction, 20 ongoing and potential for more for small businesses.
- Jobs refers to full-time equivalent roles.