Adapt­ing to meet com­mu­nity need

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS - STEPHEN WOODHEAD

A per­sonal highlight of our pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on the 2017-18

An­nual Plan was the large vol­ume of sub­mis­sions we re­ceived, but also the en­ergy and pas­sion peo­ple ap­plied to pre­par­ing them, and in some cases, speak­ing to them.

At­tract­ing 825 sub­mis­sions (a record num­ber for any con­sul­ta­tion the coun­cil has led) demon­strated to me how heav­ily in­vested our com­mu­nity is in the work ORC al­ready does across the re­gion, and the ex­pec­ta­tions peo­ple have of us to de­liver on our prom­ises to do even more.

I was im­pressed by how many peo­ple re­sponded pos­i­tively to our pro­posal to ap­ply a uni­form tar­geted rate of $25.89 to build on the work Emer­gency

Man­age­ment Otago has started to boost our re­gion’s ca­pa­bil­ity to re­spond to a nat­u­ral disas­ter.

Emer­gency pre­pared­ness starts with you at home, but hav­ing a network of highly skilled and trained pro­fes­sion­als on standby to sup­port you when it counts, is some­thing we are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing.

This is im­por­tant for a ma­jor tourist des­ti­na­tion like Queen­stown, which be­cause of its land­locked ge­og­ra­phy would po­ten­tially be cut off should an earth­quake cen­tred on the Alpine Fault oc­cur, as pre­dicted dur­ing the next 50 years.

In­stead of district and city coun­cils each em­ploy­ing their own emer­gency man­age­ment of­fi­cers, these staff are now em­ployed by ORC but con­tinue to be based in the dis­tricts. In their re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties, they will fa­cil­i­tate emer­gency re­sponse plans which will be owned and de­vel­oped by the com­mu­nity to build re­silience and pre­pared­ness.

An­other fea­ture of the An­nual Plan is the con­fir­ma­tion of fund­ing for a new sub­sidised pub­lic bus ser­vice in the Wakatipu that will pro­vide cheap and con­ve­nient trans­port op­tions for res­i­dents and vis­i­tors.

ORC’s con­tri­bu­tion boosts fund­ing con­firmed by QLDC and the NZ Trans­port Agency, with a com­bined bud­get of $4.7 mil­lion. More fre­quent ser­vices will link com­mu­ni­ties across the Wakatipu, with ex­tended hours and a trial of $2 fares.

We have also re­sponded to com­mu­nity re­quests for a per­ma­nent and full-time staff pres­ence in the Queen­stown area. We are look­ing for premises to re­open an of­fice there, sup­ple­ment­ing staff al­ready based per­ma­nently in Alexan­dra, Cromwell and Wanaka.

My fel­low coun­cil­lors and I heard loud and clear the com­mu­nity’s pref­er­ences ex­pressed through the An­nual Plan con­sul­ta­tion process, and the ‘‘turn­ing tide’’ of ac­cep­tance that our coun­cil has to be more ac­tive in wa­ter man­age­ment.

I be­lieve our An­nual Plan un­der­lines that we are adapt­ing to the com­mu­nity’s needs. We are not here to please every­body but over­all we have moved a sig­nif­i­cant dis­tance.

*Stephen Woodhead is chair of the Otago Re­gional Coun­cil

ME­LANIE HIL­LIER COM­MU­NI­CA­TIONS

Stephen Woodhead

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