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The growth of Waimakariri electorate was very much the focus of my Keeping Connected Evening Meetings, which ended last Thursday.

These pop-up meetings to make me more accessible to working and commuting residents took place from June 20 to July 14 at the Swannanoa Hall, Woodend Hall, Rangiora RSA, Cust Hall, Ruataniwha Kaiapoi Civic Centre, Oxford Town Hall, West Eyreton Hall and the Belfast Football Rugby Club.

A range of issues that were raised in a survey that went out to homes before the meetings were echoed in the discussions during the evening meetings. Among these were the challenges of an electorate that has positive growth, including congestion, reliable travel times, protecting our great landscapes, access to healthcare and the issues caused by urban development in rural areas.

I was impressed by people taking time out at night to attend and the liveliness of the discussions. These meetings help me stay connected to the issues on the ground. With a lot of growth, we are having growing pains and that’s the reason I make sure I get out in the electorate. It’s about keeping connected either through my night meetings, my caravan clinics, my two offices or just living and working in the electorate with my family.

The progress of our revitalised town centres made a strong impression on the Minister supporting Christchurch Regeneration, Hon Gerry Brownlee, when he visited this month.

I brought the Minister to Waimakarri to view our progress and tour the new building behind the façade of the former Junction Hotel building. The Minister was impressed by the work done by Mayor David Ayers, Waimakariri Council CEO Jim Palmer and staff on the rebuild of the town centres and the planning around the future use of our redzone land. He reflected that not only are the Kaiapoi and Rangiora town centres back on track but they have retained their distinctive characters.

Later this month, I am bringing Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Hon Bill English to the electorate to give our local business owners a breakdown of new changes brought out in Budget 16 and to hear feedback on the Budget and on what’s happening in our area.

I know how busy our business people are, so I thought the best way to put across these great new changes would be to get the Minister in front of our business people. The changes will make paying tax easier and reduce the burden of interest. Canterbury’s small business economy has grown faster than anywhere in the country and I am hoping our local businesses will get a lot out of this session.

During these school holidays I enjoyed visiting the North Canterbury Model Railway club’s exhibit at the Kaiapoi library with my children. If you are looking for something to do with your little ones, give it a visit. Holidays can be tough on parents and it’s great to have events like these in our community. Well done to the club for their hard work.

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