Revising vaccine requisites, water reform

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With Omicron taking a firm foothold in most parts of New Zealand, we’re now finding ourselves having to learn to live with a pandemic within our own community.

As cases soar, the likelihood of getting Covid-19 rises, and by now, you will probably start to know people within your own networks who have been impacted by it — be that directly or via a household contact.

However, while there’s little we can do to stop the virus, it’s encouraging to note vaccination numbers within our district are high, children’s vaccinations are now available and there is a regular distribution site for locals to access rapid antigen tests.

But through this, it’s business as usual for many of us, and that includes the Waimate District Council and ensuring we continue to provide core services. That’s why the council’s chief executive, in consultation with the leadership team, has made the decision to remove the vaccine pass requirements for entry to the majority of the council’s facilities and offices.

Vaccine passes, introduced in January, were required for entry at the council’s main office, Waimate Event Centre, swimming pool and library. This process was put in place to help protect the wellbeing of our community, staff and their families and to ensure that the council services could continue to be provided.

This was not an easy decision to make, therefore it was reviewed on a weekly basis. In light of the fast-moving nature of the pandemic, these reviews have now shown a change in approach can safely be implemented within our district.

As of Monday, March 28, council facilities no longer requiring My Vaccine Pass for entry include the main office, Waimate District Library and the Norman Kirk Memorial Swimming Pool (although the swimming season has now come to a close).

However, due to limited capacity restrictions under the Red traffic light setting, the vaccine passport mandate will continue at the Waimate Event Centre.

In other news, you may have seen the latest recommendations from the Government’s Three Waters working group, suggesting a new ownership model.

Through its report, the working group is suggesting councils are given a shareholding interest in the four waters entities based on population — one share per 50,000 people — partly in an effort to address concerns over loss of ownership and the risk of privatisation.

But this is a poor outcome and both myself and other South Canterbury mayors, among many others nationwide, are disappointed by this recommendation. At best, this is really just tinkering around the edges and does not in any way solve, or clarify, the major issues around ownership, representation and local voice.

Through the council’s joint collaboration with other councils, Communities 4 Local Democracy is continuing to question the Government’s proposed reforms and is pushing for the best outcome for each of our communities. Stay tuned to the council’s Facebook page and website for more information and updates as they come to hand.

Meanwhile, as we near the end of March, the Norman Kirk Memorial Swimming Pool season has come to a close and our Waimate Lakes Camping season isn’t too far behind. For all of you who visited either the pool or the lakes area, I hope you enjoyed your visit and made plenty of summer-fun memories.

We look forward to welcoming everyone back again in September.

Until next month, stay safe out there and take care.

Craig Rowley is the Mayor of Waimate