Auckland Council moves to reduce use of chemical weed sprays, as it standardises contracts

The Kennedy Park Gun Emplacements and searchlight emplacements are also council-owned assets in the Devonport-Takapuna ...
ZIZI SPARKS/FAIRFAX NZ

The Kennedy Park Gun Emplacements and searchlight emplacements are also council-owned assets in the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board area, so would fall under the new contracts.

A proposed review of the Auckland Council's maintenance contracts across the city would see a reduction in the use of chemical weed sprays in parks.

Project 17 outlines the maintenance contracts for more than 5000 council sites across the region, which expire on June 30, 2017.

The sites include parks, buildings and open spaces, and the project splits the city into five contract areas.

Centennial Park is one of the parks which falls into the new contracts.
ZIZI SPARKS/FAIRFAX NZ

Centennial Park is one of the parks which falls into the new contracts.

Auckland Council's general manager of community facilities, Rod Sheridan, told the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board, which is part of contract area Tahi, that Project 17 is about having "smarter, better managed contracts and improving our services" and having "standardised contracts with flexibility".

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He said the proposal, which has been in discussions since September 2016, will streamline and standardise service and maintenance around the city.

Arts centres such as Orewa's Estuary Arts Centre are council-owned assets.

Arts centres such as Orewa's Estuary Arts Centre are council-owned assets.

"The contract areas were put together to be small enough to make sure that we actually get the local requirements into the contracts," Sheridan said.

The three core contracts outlined in the proposal are for: a full facilities contract, including open spaces and building maintenance, and; two specialised contracts for arboriculture, including pruning, tree removal and planting, and ecological work, including removal of pests to restore native biodiversity.

The proposal outlines weed management focused on reducing the use of chemicals.

Manual and mechanical weed controls are currently used in and around children's playgrounds, and that won't change, but mechanical edging would also be used along paving and other hard edges under the new contracts.

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The report said the reduction in the use of agrichemicals would be closely monitored.

"That's a big change across the region around herbicide use," Sheridan said.

"There's full transparency of reporting around chemical use on a park-by-park basis."

Site-specific exceptions to the rule will be discussed with local boards in April and May.

Sheridan said Project 17 is also outcome-driven.

"At the moment, our contracts are very prescriptive where we say, 'You will go to this park every fortnight, you will empty that rubbish bin once a day' … So what we're going to do is outcome-based where we say, 'The grass will not be over this height, the rubbish bin will be clean and tidy.' 

"There will be no reduction in the amount of existing services, if anything service levels will be improved."

Sheridan also said local boards would have the opportunity to vary service levels to suit their own areas.

The recommended contracts for five areas across the region will be presented to the Finance and Performance Committee on March 30 for approval.

Project 17 is separate to the review of services provided by the council and council-controlled organisations which will take place over the next three years, under section 17A of the Local Government Act.

The five contract areas and the local boards they include are:
Tahi: Devonport-Takapuna, Hibiscus and Bays, Kaipatiki, Upper Harbour
Rua: Albert-Eden, Great Barrier, Puketapapa, Waiheke, Whau
Toru: Henderson-Massey, Rodney, Waitakere Ranges
Wha: Howick, Maungakiekie-Tamaki, Orakei, Waitemata
Rima: Franklin, Mangere-Otahuhu, Manurewa, Otara-Papatoetoe, Papakura

 - Stuff

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