Coun­cil elec­tions show res­i­dents do care

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS -

The lo­cal body elec­tion de­bate has raised some in­ter­est­ing ques­tions. With 200 peo­ple show­ing up for a can­di­date meet­ing, res­i­dents are show­ing they’re keen to hold coun­cil­lors and com­mu­nity board mem­bers to ac­count. The li­brary changes, the lack of progress on the sports fa­cil­ity and the per­ceived in­abil­ity of coun­cil­lors to cham­pion Wanaka’s per­spec­tive at the coun­cil ta­ble in Queen­stown have been hot topics. It’s worth not­ing that af­ter Oc­to­ber 12 our mayor wields new pow­ers to ap­point both the deputy mayor and the com­mit­tee chairs. Maybe our coun­cil­lors have avoided ask­ing awk­ward ques­tions this term be­cause rock­ing the boat might put them out of the run­ning for in­flu­en­tial po­si­tions. Com­mu­nity dis­af­fec­tion with some re­cent de­ci­sions has stemmed from peo­ple feel­ing blind­sided by a sud­den change in di­rec­tion. The coun­cil’s com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and con­sul­ta­tion process has some fatal flaws. Sure we get lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties to make ‘‘sub­mis­sions’’. We can even talk for three whole min­utes at the pub­lic fo­rum. But it doesn’t mean our feed­back is re­ceived or ef­fec­tively in­te­grated into the de­ci­sion­mak­ing process. Of­ten we only get to feed in once the real de­ci­sions have al­ready been made. Would you rather? is a pop­u­lar game for kids in our neigh­bour­hood. It could be a handy tool for set­ting pri­or­i­ties at the dis­trict level. Would you rather pay $16.8 mil­lion for a sports cen­tre that runs at a $2300 a day loss or for the same money have a suit­able sports fa­cil­ity plus a pool, camp­ground and skate park up­grade? Would you rather pay $124 in rates to sub­sidise a Queen­stown Con­ven­tion cen­tre of ques­tion­able ben­e­fit to Wanaka or main­tain a high qual­ity lo­cal li­brary? I don’t need to wade through hun­dreds of pages of ‘‘con­sul­tants­peak’’ to know what I would pick. ● Sue Coutts lives in Hawea Flat, man­ages Wanaka Waste­busters and is in­ter­ested in al­most ev­ery­thing.

Sue Coutts

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