COVID-19: Planning for Recovery

Councillors and staff at Mackenzie District Council have been working via on-line workshops to ensure that the impact of the COVID-19 on the region is reflected in planning for the future of the District.

Mackenzie District Mayor, Graham Smith, said that over previous years Council had built some resilience through a staff restructure, careful management, and prudent spending. Councillors have asked staff to do some additional modelling on rating options and to review several policies to ensure they allow the flexibility required to respond to the current challenge. Council are continuing to collaborate with other agencies and councils to find the best way forward. "We are aware of the impact of COVID-19 on some businesses and want to address this in a positive manner. However, Government legislation still requires us to maintain our services and deliver on our Annual and Long Term Plans, and we must continue to invest in projects that stimulate employment and appropriate growth in our District. We are planning for three phases: crisis, transition and a sustainable new normal" said Smith.

Mackenzie Civil Defence and Emergency Management will continue to provide support as the District moves to a recovery phase, providing welfare advice and assistance locally and continuing to collaborate with emergency services, neighbouring councils and government agencies to identify areas of concern and mitigate the impact of the virus on our local communities.

The lack of credible data to help make informed decisions is among one of the current challenges, said Suzette van Aswegen, CEO at Mackenzie District Council: "The issue is being addressed by a National Local Government Response Unit consisting of the Society Of Local Government Managers, Local Government NZ, the Department of Internal Affairs and the National Emergency Management Agency. These agencies are working together to provide local government with advice and guidance through these challenging times. Council is currently working on a Recovery Plan for our communities and looking at a package that would consist of more than one tool to address a number of issues". Van Aswegen said that staff have just over two months to complete the preparation of the 2020/21 Annual Plan, which sets out Council activity for the coming financial year. "We are focussed on using that time to fully understand the situation, so we have all the relevant facts and information to hand." said van Aswegen. "That will ensure we can make fully informed decisions and take appropriate steps now to ensure the best outcomes for our communities in the future".

Mackenzie District Council is pleased to see the government has announced further support to small and medium sized businesses. South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce are contracted by Mackenzie District Council to provide support to businesses in the region, and they are the approved pathway to access additional regional funding. We encourage business owners in the region to contact the chamber to ensure they are aware of and accessing all the support available to them.

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