Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher is under no illusion as to the challenges the Waitaki District Council will face this year.
On top of the Three Waters, local government, resource management and health reforms, the district plan review, and progressing the Waitaki Event Centre project — local body elections and Covid-19 will be thrown into the mix too.
‘‘We don’t know where exactly [Covid’s] going to take us, but there’s no doubt that it’ll have a fairly big impact on the year as well,’’ Mr Kircher said.
Mr Kircher confirmed he would stand for the Waitaki mayoralty again in October’s local body elections.
A decision on the future of Forrester Heights would be made this year, and fundraising for the Forrester Gallery’s upgrade would get under way. The council had also contracted Polis to carry out a review of tourism and economy development, and Mr Kircher expected a draft strategy to be released in April.
There would also be changes in health, as Waitaki District Health Services board chairman Mark Rogers and chief executive Phil Jamieson had resigned. Helen Algar is acting board chairwoman at present, while Keith Marshall is acting chief executive.
Mr Kircher said good progress was made on the Waitaki Event Centre project last year, and the council was committed to seeing it through.
‘‘It’s something that I’ve been wanting to have progressed fore more than 10 years . . .and it’s making progress that we want it to,’’ Mr Kircher said.
‘‘It’s really only the last couple of years that voices have gelled and that’s part of the planets aligning.’’
Looking back at 2021, Mr Kircher said starting to rebuild at Lake Ohau Village, reopening the Waitaki Museum, and major water upgrades were highlights.
‘‘I’m proud of the organisation being able to deal with all of the things that are being thrown at it and still getting on and achieving a lot of positive things.’’
Mr Kircher hoped more events could happen safely this year and there were positive outcomes for everyone.
‘‘I think it’s just so important for everybody that whatever positives there are they [are celebrated], because it’s a time for community and individuals to be as resilient as possible and that requires some flexibility and always looking for the silver lining.’’