Council elections show residents do care
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.