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.’’