Growth brings questions
Since I became mayor in 2016, the population of Central Otago has grown by about 4800 people, or something like 20% through to 2021.
In 2021, our growth rate was four times the national one, and I doubt much will change this year.
That is an absolutely incredible growth rate.
There are lots of reasons why nearly 5000 people have decided to move here and become part of the district; as many reasons as there are people to be fair.
Sometimes, huge growth happens because a big project is happening; we saw that when the Clyde Dam was built and saw the tide move out when the project was complete.
But that’s not the case with the growth this time; this growth isn’t on the back of a big project, it is a sustained flow of people who have realised this is a great place to live.
That growth doesn’t come without its problems though, and the pointy-end of those problems can be found in our housing market, and from there our labour issues.
It comes as a surprise to some people that Central Otago is still classed as a low-wage economy, with our mean earnings being $55,211 per annum as opposed to the national average of $65,910, an 18% difference.
That means people coming to the district looking for a house likely have more behind them than those starting off here.
Add to that the challenges younger people have getting into the housing market wherever they are in New Zealand, and we have, in my view, a major problem here.
Our young ones struggle to get places of their own, which adds to what right now must be a very strong temptation to move away, especially across the ditch.
So what can be done?
That is the crux of the crucial survey that is open for you to have your say through until June 5. It asks two questions with a chance to add any other thoughts you may have:
1. Do you agree to council supporting the development of affordable housing in Central Otago?
2. Do you agree with council contributing land worth the equivalent of $8million ($4million each from the Cromwell and Vincent wards) to the Central Otago Affordable Housing Trust to establish a secure homes model in this region? (Note this would equate to a loss of return on developing the land of $16million $8million worth of land value and $8million worth of net profit)?
The survey can be found on the CODC website and it gives links to further information to inform your answers.
Please enter into this discussion; those are two simple questions but there is a lot riding on the community’s answers to them.