Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher believes he has returned from last week’s Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) Rural and Provincial Councils meeting in Wellington with a little more insight into LGNZ’s future plans that may affect the Waitaki District Council.
Mr Kircher was only able to attend one day of the two-day meeting last Thursday and Friday, which covered topics such as treaty settlements, LGNZ updates, urban planning, special economic zones, proposed changes to the Local Government Act, the Three Waters project, council amalgamation and sharing of services, mobilising the regions, health and safety reforms, broadband and sister cities.
‘‘It’s an opportunity to basically focus on things that affect our council, more than the regional and city councils,’’ Mr Kircher said.
While some topics, such as treaty settlements and sister city projects, did not affect Waitaki too much, others potentially would, he said.
Mr Kircher took a particular interest in the Three Waters Project, which aims to improve the quality of New Zealand’s drinking, wastewater and stormwater through the delivery of a best-practice water infrastructure.
He described Waitaki’s infrastructure as being ‘‘up to speed’’ in terms of infrastructure and best practice.
In regards to council amalgamation, Mr Kircher said some useful information was shared.
‘‘The Government is saying councils are going away from amalgamation and working more closely together. It’s good to get that firsthand information and it really is about sharing services and what things can be done there.’’
He said as an example, if roading services were shared across the Otago region, Waitaki could potentially use engineers from other territorial authorities to inspect infrastructure such as bridges, as the Waitaki district doesn’t have resources dedicated to that.
Mr Kircher said he was happy with how the meeting progressed and was pleased to get the chance to catch up with Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley and Timaru Mayor Damon Odey.
‘‘Overall, these things are what you make of them. At some, you get extra value out of them, and at some, you don’t get that value. Sometimes you can out with some really good ideas about how to solve problems.’’
The meetings are held every three to four months. Some of this year’s speakers included Communications Minister Amy Adams and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson.