On Monday, Queenstown Lakes District Council released a statement, announcing they will establish a steering committee to act as a bridge between QLDC and QAC, in order to influence the Statement of Intent (SOI) so it can be accepted by council. The SOI has already been rejected by council twice this year as the Wānaka Airport debate continues to cause friction.
According to QLDC, this steering committee will, “work together on a shared understanding of Council expectations and the QAC’s intentions.” Michael Ross from the Wānaka Stakeholders Group says that the steering committee is an inappropriate mechanism and “window dressing after the event is not going to fix the wrongs which have been done by Council to the Upper Clutha community in relation to this matter.”
The steering committee will consist of the Mayor; three councillors (to be named); the QAC Chair; three QAC Directors (to be confirmed by QAC); and the QLDC and QAC Chief Executives.
The steering committee is not the only big development in the controversial case. Today (Thursday December 12), the council will face a decision on whether to accept the amended 2019 SOI presented by the QAC on August 20. After it was rejected in the August meeting. Council was advised that, due to the election, that this SOI matter should be considered by the new council, hence today’s meeting.
The decision to agree this SOI despite public outcry is a divisive move, one that QLDC acknowledges, saying: “On occasion Council must make a decision in the knowledge that it will create a perception that it is not representing community wishes, in this instance it could not be further from the truth.” Rather Council sees this move as a “compromise of outcomes” where due to the Local Government Act, they must either agree the 2019 SOI or seek to amend it once again. By agreeing, the council hopes to move forwards with the matter and put their “collective energies into the new document, due in March 2020” which the steering group will focus on.
Ross said, “The council should not be taking any steps or making any decisions that are necessarily on the basis that the ‘lease’ which transferred ownership and control of Wānaka Airport to QAC is lawful and valid when that issue is currently before the High Court for determination” noting that the council should be looking to expedite judicial review proceedings instead.