East/West Divide in Levin

The Horowhenua District Council buildings in Levin.

Horowhenua’s elephant in the council chamber

by Veronica Harrod
 The Horowhenua Long Term Plan (2018-2038) has one big elephant in the room —  whether divisions based on privilege and power should determine urban design in Levin.
Residents have to think about priorities — and the real estate sections in local community newspapers are already referring to the north east of Levin as “the prestigious north east sector” and “prime north east upmarket.”
 This shows the divide not only exists but is being encouraged.

Yet on the west side local Maori and residents of Hokio are expected to endure the Levin Sewage Treatment Plant (STP), the landfill, the infamous smelly “pot” behind the landfill, and a polluted Lake Horowhenua.

Lake Horowhenua
Compounding the inequalities between the east and west is a fear the Levin stretch of the Highway of National Significance will be constructed on the west side of Levin because council and land developers have expressed plans in the 2008 Horowhenua Development Plan to develop over 555 hectares on the east side for new builds.
What kind of essential infrastructure do we want? Do we want one based on archaic industrial age concepts (as we have now) or do we want to see one developed on Green principles that contributes to improving the health of the heavily polluted waterways and, in particular, Lake Horowhenua.
To encourage debate on the issue a number of ideas have been included for consideration:
  1. Decommission the 20th Century industrial-age essential infrastructure including the Levin Sewage Treatment Plant, the Levin landfill, the “Pot” and the central storm water drain            responsible for causing the most pollution to the waterways including Lake Horowhenua.
  2. Build new de-centralised essential infrastructure based on Green principles that convert waste to new energy sources or contain waste on-site in environmentally sound waste processing systems powered by clean energy. A de-centralised system more suitable for an earthquake prone country.
  3. Use Development Contributions from land developers as a dedicated fund for the development of 21st Century Green essential infrastructure designs.
  4. Halt all land development until essential infrastructure and water supply shortages have been solved.
  5. Change District Plan rules to make the installation of water tanks and stand-alone de-centralised essential infrastructure systems based on Green principles mandatory.
  6. Fund and encourage community gardens in all parts of the district.
  7. Build solar panels to power public assets and encourage the installation of solar panels on all new builds through regulatory changes.
  8. Encourage innovative solutions to essential infrastructure problems would also lead to opportunities for people to build skills and knowledge by offering courses,  qualifications and apprenticeships in clean energy solutions that will only become more relevant with time.

This is a growth industry and Horowhenua could lead the way if it has the political will.