Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith has highlighted the region’s 100,000 population in his annual speech to Nelson Rotary, reflecting on the growth over his 25 years as a parliamentarian and emphasising the need for investment in infrastructure, housing and facilities.
Nick identified Nelson’s population this month which tops 100,000, up from 70,000 when he was first elected in 1990, as a key issue.
“We have the second fastest regional population growth at over six per cent between the last two Censuses, just behind Auckland. We need to plan and manage this positive growth, or we will fall into the sort of problems Auckland has had with sky-high house prices, congested traffic and inadequate facilities,” says Nick
“The overall picture of Nelson over the past 25 years has been positive. Our population is healthier, better educated and safer. Our economy is stronger, with more jobs and higher incomes across the spectrum.
“Our facilities and environment have also improved. However, we face challenges around water management, home ownership, transport, keeping our community safe, better managing our marine environment and strengthening our regional identity.
Nick also says the Waimea Community Dam, airport development, and Southern Link are crucial for our region.
“A new airport terminal is needed to cope with the fivefold increase in passenger numbers from 150,000 in 1990 to 750,000 today, and the projection topping one million in the 2020s. The new terminal building needs to be functional but also an attractive shopfront for our creative arts, national parks and unique industries.
“The Southern Link is needed to reduce congestion, support economic growth and productivity, improve community safety and well-being, and improve tourism and recreational opportunities as confirmed by last year’s strategic study.
The number of vehicles in the region is growing faster than the population and now tops 101,000. We must accommodate this growth in population, vehicles, freight and visitors by increasing the arterial capacity in and out of Nelson, of which the Southern Link is the only realistic solution. It is also a key partner project to the Rocks Road Cycleway and Boulevard.”
Nick says there has been a “welcome reduction in crime in Nelson over the past five years, but there are risks to manage with gangs, family violence and alcohol related offending. I have invited newly re-appointed Police Minister Judith Collins to Nelson to ensure every possible support is given to Police to try and ensure the Hells Angels presence does not translate into increased serious offending.”