Annual General Meeting, March 16, 2017.

Welcome to Crs Baker, Leggett, Wakem, and Regional Councillor Jenny Brash. Welcome to Kris Faafoi, our active local MP, and special welcome to Mayor, Mike Tana, who you will hear from later tonight… Thank you for coming out tonight in such numbers, and welcome to all members and non members who are interested in our community…

This is my fourth report as chairman of the Whitby Residents Association.  I have always wanted to have an active, and vigorous residents association, who present a strong voice for Whitby residents, and is focussed on achieving results.

This year we had another year of frustration and delays, but we do have some achievements to report…

  • We completed implementation of the slow zone for Discovery Drive, from Samuel Marsden College around to Mariners Way, with signage and road markings, and promotion of voluntary code of speed control within that busy pedestrian area.
  • With PCC, we completed the lake lighting programme to increase safety over most of the pathway around the lower lake.
  • The Browns Bay park tree felling and upgrade has also been completed.
  • We installed a new rock garden at the entrance to Whitby Mall, using our own funds and labour, and some sponsored materials.
  • We have monitored and dealt with issues arising from the Brookside development on the former lower nine golf course at Duck Creek. Once that work started, the rain definitely came at the wrong time, but it is proceeding now, and it is proposed that the first show homes on that site will be built in the next quarter.
  • We have continued our maintenance programme at the Bradey Grave in Silverwood. This used to be a remote, peaceful, and restful oasis surrounded by bush and forestry. Now within the Silverwood housing estate, this site now has neighbours on all four sides, so we are in suburbia. The site suffered damage during the recent rain event and has significant slips on two sides, which need remedial work.  The neighbours on both sides have been very helpful and positive about this, and we, and the Bradey family are working through some remedial options.
  • There is also progress at last with the expansion of the supermarket at Whitby Mall. This work has stalled for almost year, but I understand that tenders have been advertised, and the contractor is expected to commence this work in the second half of this year. We are trying to be very positive about this but we have heard this before from Foodstuffs, so watch this space.
  • Much of our time and efforts has been directed on trying to get the recommended aeration programme in place for Whitby lower lake. This is designed to improve water quality with flow on benefits to marine and birdlife, and enhance the water colour and appearance of the lake. This has been frustrating for us all, as no council funding has been available, and we have sought outside funding from a number of trusts and community organisations.  It is a $35,000 project to achieve that, and whilst we have some smaller donations promised, we do not have any substantial  contribution to make that happen…… yet !  We will continue to search for funding to allow that work to be undertaken.

During November and again in February, we experienced unforeseen events which have impacted upon the past year’s activities.  The recent earthquakes and flooding made a real impact on our community and our hillsides.  Whitby is still bearing the scars of those events in early February.

Quite rightly, council and community resources were diverted into particularly flooding recovery.  Many of us worked out in the rain, either shovelling mud and debris away from properties, trying to redirect traffic, or just keeping volunteers warm with hot drinks.  At the council meeting last month, it was estimated that the recovery costs will total about $3.7 million. Most of this is unforeseen expenditure. Those costs will inevitably impact on our communities.

A major hotspot for Whitby is the ‘Discovery dip’, the section of Discovery Drive near Samuel Marsden College, which frequently floods, and becomes impassable.  This was of particularly concern to WRA, and I spoke at the PCC meeting soon after the ‘rain event’ asking for consideration to a short term fix, a longer term fix because its an engineering problem, and a proper traffic management plan to cover such an event.

As you may have read in our local newspaper, it seems that there is an engineering solution now being planned. That is good news for our community and if that is successful, then logically there will be no need for the traffic management plan… so we have our fingers crossed that this will eventuate this year, in fact before winter would be helpful.

Meanwhile, underway in our community, we have the continued expansion of Whitby Lakes Retirement Village, with another accommodation block to built along Discovery Drive, where trees have been felled.  They also have approval for an aged care medical facility to be built on land between the village and Samuel Marsden Collegiate, accessed off Starboard Lane, and we understand that will commence early 2018.

The land for both Silverwood and The Banks has now all been sold.  The Breakwater subdivision is now being marketed on land next to the new Educare early childhood centre in The Banks, and later this month, Aramus Developments will begin developing the other smaller area of land there, which is accessed from Discovery Drive, opposite Starboard lane.

Unfortunately, we have not been able to achieve extra car parking at the Whitby Village Centre. This item has been a particular frustration to us. As Whitby develops, the demand for extra car parking at the village centre will only increase.  We have promoted this view with PCC, and the Whitby Mall owner.  The PCC traffic count study supported the need for more car parking. Our community supports the idea of extra car parking but this is hard to justify when Adventure Park car park which across the road remains empty most weekdays.

PCC makes village planning funding available each year for the 13 villages of Porirua city. In my first year as Chairman, we received $27,000 of village funding for projects, in the second year, we were allocated $137,000 for village planning projects, in the next year we achieved $50,000 to allow completion of the lake lighting project, and we currently have $40,000 allocated for current year projects, for two new pathways –  across Spyglass Reserve, and along Discovery Drive between The Barque and The Haven, each to allow safe access for pedestrians and school children walking to the bus stop.  This work will go to tender next week, and is due for completion by June 30.  These allocations by PCC are evidence of money being spent in our area.

We have projects proposed for village planning funding for the 2017-18 year but these have not been considered yet for the new village planning year scheduled to begin in July.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the committee for their support during the year.  We have three committee members standing down – Phil Dyer, Hayden McKee and Ross Wards. I would like to record our appreciation to each for their efforts for the Whitby community.

To Saar and the committee I want to express my thanks also. Special thanks too to Lee Cook, one of our members, who hosts our website for no charge, and to Bill Inge , who is our PCC village planning liaison person.  Also sincere thanks to our very active councillor Anita Baker, who has been a great facilitator between the association and the council. We have a new team of councillors for the northern ward –  Crs Dale Williams, Dame Beverley Wakem and Ross Leggett.   Whitby is are expecting great things from them…. so no pressure then!  Plus… Deputy Mayor Izzy Ford also lives in Whitby, although she represents the eastern ward, so that does mean that we do have five councillors promoting Whitby’s best interests at the table.

We have plenty of unfinished business to keep the Association committee interested, and there are always issues on the table to progress.  So new blood is always welcome, both in new members and at the committee, so if you are interested in what is happening or is proposed to happen in your community, this association is the first to know and is the best vehicle to join and participate with. By sharing the information, and our opinions, we can continue to work effectively as a team.

Our goal is simply to make Whitby a better place to live.  We have a desirable community here. We have much to be grateful for but we have more to do. We will continue to present a strong voice for Whitby residents within our city, and with Porirua Council.

Thank you all for your attention ladies and gentlemen. I now have pleasure in moving the receipt of my report….

Geoff Mowday

Chairman, Whitby Residents Association Inc.

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