Uni­tary coun­cil plan pitched


An in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a uni­tary au­thor­ity for Otago is ‘‘long over­due’’ and other dis­trict coun­cils, in­clud­ing in the Dun­stan re­gion, should be in­volved in the process, Otago re­gional coun­cil­lor Michael Laws says.

Dunedin City councillors backed a res­o­lu­tion last Tuesday call­ing for a re­port into a merger be­tween the city coun­cil and re­gional coun­cil.

Laws said the com­mit­ment of the DCC to ex­plore a uni­tary au­thor­ity for the dis­trict was long over­due and other dis­trict coun­cils – in­clud­ing in the Dun­stan re­gion – would ben­e­fit from be­ing in­volved too.

‘‘I will be moving a mo­tion at the next Otago Re­gional Coun­cil meet­ing to sug­gest that the uni­tary au­thor­ity idea be in­de­pen­dently in­ves­ti­gated for all of the Otago re­gion. Dunedin can’t do this in iso­la­tion be­cause the ef­fects would be in Queen­stown, Cen­tral, Clutha and the Waitaki as well. With­out Dunedin, the Otago Re­gional Coun­cil would cease to have a con­struc­tive pur­pose.’’

Cen­tral Otago Dis­trict Mayor Tim Cado­gan said the merger pitch came out of ‘‘left field’’ and he ques­tioned if a uni­tary coun­cil was cre­ated for Dunedin, where would it leave other parts of the cur­rent ORC.

‘‘What would the re­place­ment look like? Would it be what we have, less Dunedin? Or would there be other uni­tary coun­cils formed, such as a uni­tary coun­cil for the area cur­rently cov­ered by the CODC and the QLDC? I would need a lot of convincing this would ben­e­fit the res­i­dents of the cur­rent CODC area.’’

The fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions would take a ‘‘great deal of work­ing through’’. The peo­ple of the dis­trict, through be­ing part of the ORC, had an in­ter­est in the Port of Otago, a sig­nif­i­cant as­set and in­come gen­er­a­tor, he said.

‘‘What be­comes of that in­ter­est un­der this pro­posal?’’

Cen­tral Otago’s big­gest eco­nomic threat was the end­ing of the deemed per­mits for tak­ing wa­ter in Oc­to­ber 2021.

The ORC was the au­thor­ity work­ing through chang­ing cur­rent per­mits to re­source con­sents be­fore then.

‘‘I do not want any­thing to dis­tract from that cru­cial task. It is early days in this dis­cus­sion and I will watch what di­rec­tion the DCC takes with a mix­ture of in­ter­est and con­cern.’’


The Pool­burn Ho­tel in the Ida Val­ley in Cen­tral Otago.

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