Council needs to re-engage with community to save economic development strategy

After hearing concerning reports about the state of Kāpiti Coast District Council’s ongoing economic development strategy refresh, mayoral candidate Gwynn Compton is urging Council to re-engage with the working group involved in drafting the new strategy before tens of thousands of dollars are wasted on a strategy that the community doesn’t support.

I understand that an initial draft of the new economic development strategy was originally due to be presented to Council’s Operations and Finance Committee last week before being pulled before the agenda was finalised. What’s more, the working group of volunteers from the community were left in the dark about what was happening and didn’t even get any thanks for their substantial contribution to the process until after the lack of any formal acknowledgement was raised,” says Mr Compton.

“I also understand that the depth of frustration from those involved is such that both Mayor K Gurunathan and CEO Wayne Maxwell have received several emails ann letters raising significant concerns about how the economic development strategy refresh has been handled.”

With Kāpiti facing substantial change in the coming years with the completion of projects like Transmission Gully and Peka Peka to Ōtaki meaning the loss of hundreds of related jobs combined with rapid population growth, Gwynn Compton says getting Kāpiti’s economic development strategy right and having community support for its implementation is more critical than ever.

“In order to thrive in the years ahead and have opportunities for our young people to call Kāpiti home, we need to have a diverse and vibrant economy. We can’t rely on just being a retirement mecca or a coffee stop for tourists as some believe. We have massive opportunities to grow our tourism, technology, creative industries, and food and beverage sectors while using our aged-care and retail sectors as a solid base to support that growth,” says Mr Compton.

“But efforts to do that have been hampered in the past by economic development strategies that don’t have the support of the community, an inability for Council to retain experienced staff, and a lack of ambition or vision for our district from our leaders. We cannot afford to get this wrong again, and I urge Council to get the economic development strategy working group back around the table and to pursue their recommendations, especially for an independent governance model for the strategy that would help create a community-led approach to economic development in Kāpiti.”