Youth take on Hamilton's 10 Year Plan

Gemma Major Stuff Seed Waikato.jpg

NZ Herald, 23 March 2018

Concerns over Hamilton City Council debt young people could inherit were among issues raised at a Seed Waikato 10 year plan consultation meeting with council members.

More than 60 people were at the meeting to hear from several councillors and Mayor Andrew King on the plan.

A co-founder of the community youth group, Gemma Slack, raised the concerns that some of the youth in attendance had over the future of Hamilton.

"Young people are concerned that landlords will put up rent, and that those trying to find their feet in the world will bear the cost rather than more established investors," Ms Slack said.

"There were concerns around interest-free debt, and that in 10 years, the young people will inherit it, with interest. It is important the council put in measures now to ensure the city we inherit in the future doesn't carry enormous debt."

The concern for the younger people is that the 9.5 per cent rate rise for the next two years will put rent prices out of reach.

"We get that the money has to come from somewhere, and there were great suggestions to explore partnerships and even crowdfunding to raise additional capital."

Ms Slack was happy with the turnout but was disappointed with how the questions were answered.

"Some questions were answered well. More could have been done from the councillors to answer the questions more directly, or to not answer at all if there was no straight answer to be given. Mayor Andrew King was fantastic to answer questions quickly and directly, which made more time for others to ask their questions."

In the future Ms Slack wants the 10 year plan information to be more accessible to all audiences.

"The huge draft proposal was simply too much. It would be great to work with a local young designer to create info-graphics or summaries to make this information digestible and accessible."

Over the evening, they heard councillors' aspirations to be a bilingual city (English and Te Reo Maori), and to increase community funding for young change-makers — HCC currently has $800,000 available in its multi-year grant, $50,000 down from 2015. One of their priorities is community-led development. This works out to 7c per person and more could be done here. They heard about the importance of caring for the environment as the city grows, including improving recycling, affordable housing, paying off interest-free debt sooner, better communication on opportunities for young people to engage with the council, and improving cycling.