Large workload with plans, changes and consultation

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The Waitaki District Council has been dealing with a large workload over recent months, including the annual plan, spatial plan, district plan review, Forrester Heights and the ongoing Three Waters debate. These issues are in addition to the normal ‘‘business as usual’’, being all the items that the council deals with on a regular basis.

The spatial plan details will be included in the draft district plan to be consulted on later in the year. The council heard very strongly the public opposition to reserve areas being considered for housing, and that three-storey apartment buildings should not be permitted on the South Hill.

Forrester Heights is currently being consulted, and details are available on the council website and from libraries and the council office. The use of this land has been unresolved since the council, back in 2006, decided to subdivide the property for housing, and I am looking forward to the future use of the land finally being resolved.

Note that the consultation only relates to the 2.7ha area above the end of Test St, and and not the complete area of the Cape. The land on the Cape and Lookout Point are not included in the proposals.

The Three Waters debate continues. This takeover of the supply of drinking water, control of stormwater and treatment of sewage by central government has been opposed by nearly all councils for several reasons.

These reasons include that locals have better knowledge of what is needed to improve local services, the effective loss of ownership of the water assets, and that the Government should fund councils, and not new bureaucratic water entities, to carry out upgrades to improve the three water services.

All agree that there is room for improvement, but who is responsible for this and how the work is funded is the issue. The debate over iwi representation that erupted recently in Dunedin is not the fundamental issue, and should not take attention away from the real issue, being loss of local control.

Waitaki is well provided with Three Waters services, but there is room for improvement that could be completed if funding was available. The council has decided to borrow funds to bring forward work that was planned in later years, to ensure that projects the council considers of higher priority are under way and will be completed, irrespective of the entity that has control over the Three Waters services in the future.

Finally, local body elections will be held in October, and now is the time to consider whether to stand for election. I advise anyone considering standing for election to complete due diligence to ensure the demands of the role are fully understood. This can be by observing council meetings, attending information events provided prior to the election, and talking to present councillors.

Obtaining good information is essential to understanding the responsibilities and demands of being a councillor, and how this will impact on you personally.

Colin Wollstein is a Waitaki district councillor for the Oamaru ward.