Council & City

Council digs in to support to national recovery effort

Friday April 17 2020

Palmerston North City Council has proposed 10 ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure projects to help support the national recovery effort, with construction identified as a key sector to drive economic and employment revival across New Zealand.

The 10 projects are planned to be fast-tracked, alongside other capital works, as part of recovery plans to stimulate the local and regional economy and to create new jobs over the short-to-medium term.

To expedite these major projects, the Council has applied for government support to ensure works get under way as quickly as possible. We are seeking a mixture of full or partial funding.

Mayor Grant Smith says all councils are having to reconsider spending and capital investment priorities in the wake of the pandemic crisis.

“We need to get the city and region working again as quickly as possible, encouraging the economic growth we were anticipating and to lessen any economic impact caused by the pandemic,” Mayor Smith says. “Our city assets and major projects generate a lot of income and employment and it is important we continue to support these projects as planned, notwithstanding financial constraints caused by the virus.

“We thought very carefully about project selection. The bundle of shovel ready projects includes some where work was already under way and could be expedited. Overall, they’re projects which can be brought forward to kickstart the local economy, help bring our community back into the city, and provide confidence for private sector developers and investors to continue to invest in our city’s growth,” he says.

Mayor Smith says Palmerston North enjoys natural advantages over other regions in that it has a diverse economy, is less exposed to vulnerable industries and has an enhanced ability to bounce back quickly.

“We will be working very hard to ensure all our people are focused not just on the recovery but also on realising the potential opportunities we have in the city and region over the medium term,” he says.

The 10 projects submitted for government support were categorised into three timeframes: shovel ready now (A), shovel ready in six months (B) or shovel ready in 12 months (C). Three of these projects support critical work for both Palmerston North Airport and Food HQ Science Park.

A: Shovel ready now

B: Shovel ready in six months

  • Airport Drive upgrade
  • Urban cycleway programme
  • Bunnythorpe wastewater mains
  • Whakarongo subdivision
  • Road links (local roadworks to enable the regional freight ringroad)

C: Shovel ready in 12 months

The Council has been careful to recognise the ongoing issues surrounding Covid-19 in its applications, including issues for local trades and construction firms, pressures on supply chain and cost of materials, Mayor Smith says.

“We are talking with contractors, sub-contractors and trades to identify their needs post-level 4,” he adds. “We want to identify what support we can provide and register their interest in the Council’s 'pipeline' of work.”

As part of recovery planning, Council is also looking to implement smart procurement practices for the shovel ready projects to expedite, risk-manage and facilitate early commencement of works.

In addition, the Mayor has provided letters of support to other local organisations and agencies also seeking government funding, including UCOL, Go Media, RACE, Massey University Vet School and NZTA.