Otago in ten years?

Being a true blue Crusaders-supporting Cantabrian, who misses the bright cold winter days of Christchurch devoid of these damn inversions, I’m not quite sure.

Ten-year planning is about to get underway for the Otago Regional Council (ORC), and it wants to hear from the community about what kind of region to plan for.

ORC is asking people what they want Otago to be like in ten years because having that information before it starts planning gives it a much better chance of focussing on the right things. It needs to work together with the people who live and work in Otago because they want what’s best for the environment and its people.

The ten-year plan (also known as the Long-term Plan) sets out what the regional council will do, its projects, performance targets and financial estimates. The policy is reviewed every three years, with the next one covering ten years from July 2021 to June 2031.

So what are the right things? I think water quality and the environment must come first and foremost. ORC says it’s the region’s lead organisation for environmental management. So it must rise to the challenge of creating a profile for the environment that works for everyone, both rural and urban.

Farmers must be taken into consideration – their livelihoods sustain a large part of the regional economy, so there must be some give and take with water quality and environmental factors to make farmers lot a fair one.

Then there is roading and infrastructure which must be balanced between urban and rural. Otago has some of the most remote regions in the country- take the Maniototo- and these cant be left to linger without sustainable infrastructure and roading. The roads of the Maniototo regularly close during winter because of snow – I believe the Dansy’s Pass road is closed at the moment- and consideration must be given to those lonely communities who suffer through this. Should the roads be cleared on a more regular basis? I think so.

The towns- I don’t know too much about Dunedin- but I imagine it is not without the detractions of any other major city in New Zealand. Roads, policing, infrastructure, development must be allowed to go ahead to create a more attractive town than I remember when I was last there five years ago. Dunedin is dreary- but it needn’t be if some more money were spent on it. Then it would attract more tourists, who wouldn’t just pass through on the way to the albatross colony.

Then there is Queenstown and Wānaka- what a debacle. Half the community wants development to fast-track, half it wants the towns to go back to the way they were 30 years ago. I’m with the latter. My memories of Wānaka when I first visited back in the early 1990s was of a delightful backwater with one or two restaurants open in the evening and copious parking at any time of the day. Now we have one of the biggest New Worlds in the country and a Mitre 10 that is going to reach a similar status. Do we need these? Really?

But who am I to say? I’ve only been in Wānaka for three months. I miss Canterbury and am (unfairly) continually comparing the two. What do I know about what Otago-ites want from their regional council? I don’t. So please have your say.

Read Edition 980 of the Wānaka Sun here. 


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