Board chair takes stand over funding youth organisation

Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board chairman Sam MacDonald

The Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board should not be funding a project which targets issues such as mental health, overcrowded housing and behavioural problems.

That’s the stand board chairman Sam MacDonald took over $20,000 of funding granted to Te Ora Hou Otautahi last week.

But Mr MacDonald was the only board member at the meeting to vote against the plan.

“I voted against it because it’s ratepayer money, we have a lot of priorities in the city and I just felt that when I talk to my constituents, it’s more about fixing our roads and infrastructure with ratepayers’ money,” he said.

“Don’t get me wrong it’s a noble cause and what they are doing is great, but you have to go and justify it to ratepayers.”

The money will fund Te Ora Hou’s whanau resiliency project, which identifies young people and their families most at risk for issues such as mental health, overcrowded housing, poor school attendance and behavioural problems, and will work alongside them for more than 12 months to develop long-term change. Mr MacDonald believes the funding should come from the central government, not local.

Since 2015, the city council has granted $246,108 to Te Ora Hou.

However, deputy board chairman Aaron Campbell supported the funding.

“I am very happy to give the programme a shot, unfortunately there are no other options right now, the Government isn’t in that space and parts of our area are in need, we have got to try do something,” he said.

“Sure we could choose not to spend it, but there are a lot of reasons on why we should.”

Te Ora Hou general manager Jono Campbell said ideally they would like to see more funding from the Government, but a key thing they value about local government investment is that it can meet a local need.

“Local solutions designed locally for local people.”

“While it is important to invest in infrastructure, it is also important to invest in the communities and people that utilise our infrastructure and those people, like our built infrastructure, have taken a hammering.”

“If we don’t invest in them then eventually something breaks and the effort to find solutions becomes even more costly, impacting and time-consuming.”

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