Last updated: 11.30am, 7 April 2020.

We are committed to our communities and recognise that we play a critical role in our rohe. We remain open for business, and will keep delivering essential services. The way we work will look different, for example our front line receptions are now closed, but you can rest assured we remain agile and resilient.

At Alert Level 4, we will continue to operate the following essential services to protect human health and our environment and facilitate the movement of essential service staff via public transport.

The key public services we will continue to provide include:

  • Civil Defence emergency management – our Civil Defence functions have been activated and our organisation is supporting the Ministry of Health as the lead agency for the pandemic response.
  • Sampling and analysis of drinking water for public safety
  • Public transport (following guidance from Central Government)
  • Ensuring maritime navigational safety
  • Incident and pollution response
  • Maintenance of biosecurity
  • Controlling lake levels
  • Natural hazard event monitoring, response and recovery (for example our flood and drought monitoring and management programmes).
  • Operation and maintenance of flood protection and land drainage infrastructure 
  • Planning, consenting and compliance, where these functions are required to
    • enable and/or support essential services, or
    • address immediate health or life safety risks, or
    • prevent serious environmental harm
  • Monitoring our State of the Environment network

We will keep you up to date as the situation evolves and as we receive further direction from central government about essential services.

Contacting us

We have a number of contact-free ways that people can get in touch, including by phone, email or via our website.

Contact our customer service team via our web form or by calling 0800 884 880.

Care group work

Under COVID-19 Alert Level 4 conservation work has been identified as non-essential and as a result all care group volunteers have been instructed to stop any trapping, planting or other care group work. We ask that anyone who chooses to undertake care group activities in isolation on their own property should first consider the risk of injury and their safety. If they injured themselves and needed treatment as a result they would be taking health workers away from the COVID-19 frontlines.

Communications

Our communications team is working hard to keep our communities informed and answer media enquiries.

Council consultations

Due to COVID-19, the regional council has decided not to hold consultation on the Annual Plan 2020/21. In the current situation, significant consultation would be inappropriate. Instead, we will engage with our communities on these issues in greater depth later this year, and early next, as part of our next Long Term Plan process.

Instead we will be releasing an information document, which will be made available on our Annual Plan page.

However we are continuing to consult on our Flood Protection and Drainage Bylaws 2020.

The Regional Council has a statutory role in providing flood protection and water control which is achieved through the rivers and drainage schemes it manages. The maintenance of flood protection schemes are an essential service during this state of emergency and Council made to decision last month to going ahead with a web based consultation process for the proposed changes to the Bylaws.

If this consultation process had been deferred, our current 2008 Bylaws would be automatically revoked on 1 July 2020 under the Local Government Act 2002, meaning our flood protection assets would have no legal protection. There is currently no legislative pathway to extend a bylaw

The Bylaws are a critical part of protecting our flood protection and drainage assets. These assets are necessary to protect the community in times of flooding. If the Bylaws are not in place our flood protection and drainage assets are at risk.

You can find out more about the process here. We welcome your submission on the bylaw proposal, which can be made right here on our website.

If you are a directly affected party (i.e. a person who owns land within a Bylaw Applicable Area) you will have received a letter outlining the review and process for consultation already. 

Unfortunately there was an error in the letter where it stated that the Bylaws consultation would be carried out in conjunction with the Annual Plan 2020-2021 consultation.  This is no longer the case as Council has decided not to consult on the Annual Plan 2020-2021.

Council meetings

Core committees have been suspended and an Emergency Committee has been set up to allow swift decision making and delegated responsibility in response to these extraordinary times.

Public transportation

Public transport is still available at this time, but in line with government advice, movement will be restricted to necessary trips, keeping as much distance between you and other travellers (and the driver) as possible, use the rear doors to enter and exit the buses and wash hand for 20 seconds before and after travelling. 

Any changes to services or restrictions will be shared on the Bay Bus website.

If your service is no longer available, and you are reliant on the bus to travel to your essential services job, or to access the supermarket or healthcare then please contact us directly to discuss alternative options. Please phone the Regional Council on 0800 884 880.

Register your travel

We have been asked by the Ministry of Health to contact trace all public transport contacts. There are now posters on the buses asking you to register your journey.

This is a simple process, to do so you do need to take note of the unique bus ID number, and visit www.baybus.co.nz/covid to register your travel details.

Pollution Hotline

Our Pollution Hotline is still operating and we are working to monitor incidents related to discharges to the land, water and air in the Bay of Plenty. 

However, in these unusual times, there are new issues arising. For example, non-essential industries may need to stockpile or process material differently or waste may not be sorted at transfer stations in the same way.

There may be some existing issues that are exacerbated because of home isolation where operations continue during Alert Level 4 as they are considered essential services (for example food or pet food processing plants). 

When a complaint is made, we’ll contact the industry to let them know our concerns, but of course we’ll do most of the work remotely to keep our communities safe by limiting travel where possible.  

While we still encourage people to call our 24/7 Pollution Hotline on 0800 884 880, we are not in a position to manage pollution issues as per usual. If you feel confident, you could also contact the company to let them know that issues are impacting them in their household isolation. 

Regional construction

While many of the essential services Council continues to deliver at Alert Level 4 are ‘behind the scenes’, don’t be alarmed to see physical work carrying on in various locations across the region.

This includes limited construction work at Regional House in Tauranga; and at the Quay Street office in Whakatāne, to complete our specialised Flood Room as we head into ‘flood season’.

Our Rivers and Drainage Operations Team, Engineering staff and some of our contractors are also delivering high priority works, including aspects of Stage 7 of the Rangitāiki Floodway, flood repair work and ensuring the drainage and pumping network are operational.

Please be assured, those staff and contractors involved in essential services are adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols.

Regional parks

The Pāpāmoa and Onekawa Te Mawhai Regional Parks will remain open but only to those who are able to access them by bike or foot. The car parks have been closed to reiterate to people that they must not use a motor vehicle in order to exercise.

The Pāpāmoa park  toilets have been closed to ensure that the risk of COVID-19 transmission from shared surfaces is minimised and people must closely follow the recommended COVID-19 hygiene practices if coming into contact with gates or any of the other park infrastructure. 

Visitors are reminded that they can only exercise with those in their lock down ‘bubble’ and must maintain strict physical isolation from anyone else at all times.

Where to go for COVID-19 information

The unite against COVID-19 website provides everything you need to know about COVID-19 in one place. Learn the simple steps you can take to unite against the virus and slow its spread. Find out the latest updates, what the COVID-19 alert levels mean and what help is available.

Visit www.covid19.govt.nz