ORC seeks community experts to shape Otago’s future

ORC chair Marian Hobbs: In particular, we want to hear from people who can bring specific knowledge, experience and insight to the table. Credit: ORC

Over the next two weeks, the Otago Regional Council (ORC) is seeking expressions of interest from people in the community to be part of reference groups for input into its new Regional Policy Statement (RPS).

“We’re looking for people with skills in topics ranging from hydrology, public health, tourism, and heritage issues, to ecology, urban design, farming, climate change and more,” said ORC chair Marian Hobbs.

At a meeting on April 22, councillors voted to go ahead with an alternative option for community input due to coronavirus. This alternative involves forming small reference groups of experts to give input and provide feedback about the proposed content of each topic of the RPS.

“This is a rare opportunity to shape Otago’s future,” Hobbs said. “We know our community is filled with people who are passionate and knowledgeable about Otago’s natural and physical resources, and we want to hear from them.

“The RPS is the region’s most significant policy document, under which all of our other plans and policies sit, so these reference groups will really be a means for people to apply their expertise to Otago’s future in a significant and meaningful way.”

ORC is seeking expressions of interest by 27 May.

Policy direction papers are being prepared that use the information gathered from an online survey and community meetings held earlier this year. The content of these papers will be discussed by the topics’ reference groups at a series of virtual workshops – one per topic – and will go on to inform the new RPS.

Each reference group will have approximately ten people, although the complexity of some topics may require bigger groups. The reference group process will occur in two sets, with the first covering two weeks from 22 June, and the second covering two weeks from 20 July.

The time commitment from participants will be a minimum of a half day to join in the online reference group discussion, and then time across the two-week period to provide written feedback.

To find out about what’s involved or how to express your interest, please visit www.orc.govt.nz/RPSgroups or call 0800 474 082.

Read edition 975 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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