The $30m ORC ‘tragic mis­take’


The Otago Re­gional Coun­cil’s plan for a new $30 mil­lion build­ing in cen­tral Dunedin has been la­belled a ‘‘tragic mis­take’’.

In an im­pas­sioned speech at a draft an­nual plan hear­ing in Alexan­dra last week, Guardians of Lake Dun­stan chair­man An­drew Bur­ton told coun­cil­lors he was ‘‘shocked to hear’’ mil­lions could be spent on a new head­quar­ters.

Bur­ton was out­lin­ing the ‘‘chok­ing mess’’ la­garosiphon had cre­ated at the top of Lake Dun­stan but di­gressed to slam the or­gan­i­sa­tion for its pro­posed spend­ing on the build­ing.

‘‘It would be a tragic mis­take if you pro­ceed with this fool­hardy plan,’’ Bur­ton said.

‘‘We urge you, no, im­plore you, to re­think this.’’

Bur­ton sug­gested the coun­cil should re­lo­cate its head of­fice to Cromwell ‘‘where the ac­tion is’’.

Friends of Lake Hayes spokesman Kerry Dun­lop also ex­pressed his con­cern for the pro­posal at the coun­cil’s Queen­stown hear­ing.

For­mer Otago Re­gional Coun­cil­lor Gerry Eck­hoff said the coun­cil was be­ing less than trans­par­ent about build­ing plans and they were now talk­ing about a project rather than a pro­posal.

‘‘It’s all about pres­tige. It’s not about prac­ti­cal­ity, com­mon sense and good use of money.’’

Spe­cial con­sul­ta­tion with ratepay­ers was ex­pected be­fore the end of 2018.

He agreed with Bur­ton that if a new head­quar­ters was to be built, then it needed to be ‘‘where the prob­lems are’’ like Cen­tral Otago.

Otago Re­gional Coun­cil­lor Michael Laws had pre­vi­ously taken is­sue with the ‘‘ap­palling and mud­dle-headed’’ idea.

Otago Re­gional Coun­cil chair­man Stephen Wood­head said a new build­ing was needed due to a short­age of space and not meet­ing stan­dards re­quired to house an emer­gency co­or­di­na­tion cen­tre.

The coun­cil had looked at rent­ing, buy­ing and ren­o­vat­ing a build­ing and ‘‘it’s not off the ta­ble’’ but was not the pre­ferred op­tion.

The pre­ferred site was a Dunedin City Coun­cil owned carpark area in Dowl­ing St, he said.

There were no other suit­able build­ings in Dunedin or in the re­gions that could cater for the coun­cil with­out ‘‘ex­pen­sive mod­i­fi­ca­tions’’, Wood­head said.

‘‘From a gov­er­nance per­spec­tive, Dunedin is the log­i­cal place for ORC to be head­quar­tered.’’

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