By now you should have received the consultation document for the Otago Regional Council Long Term Plan (LTP). If not you can find out all you want (and don't want) to know here. The LTP is the overarching document for all spending over the next 10 years. It’s important. While the LTP looks forward 10 years, it is reviewed every three years and each year the annual plan process looks at the coming year in detail. It’s worth noting that if projects are not worked into this plan at some level, it is very difficult to get them considered before the next three year review.
All the associated documents and an online submission portal are on the website with submissions accepted until May 9th.
As a councillor I’ve been involved in much discussion about what we are spending where and why. I generally support the work that is outlined in the plan, although personally I think it is still too light given the immense game of catch-up we are in given the environmental issues we face. However, my view is one of 12 around the table and as a representative of this district, I want to highlight for you some areas that I think may be of real concern to you.
1. Lake Hayes remediation - looks pristine, is nowhere near that state, LTP preferred option is Lake Hayes residents pay the lion's share of the cleanup. Fair?
If you live in the Whakatipu basin, particularly anywhere near Lake Hayes, the preferred option for financing the remediation of Lake Hayes/ Te Whaka-ata will hit your back pocket hard. Three options are offered but the ‘preferred’ option would cost those living close to the lake $335 per year in a targeted rate. For those living at ‘Lake Hayes South’ including Lake Hayes Estate and Shotover Country, this rate will cost an extra $45 per year.
Apart from the price, in my mind this creates a terrible precedent for the remediation of waterways or any other area of environmental degradation. People living next door to polluted, degraded areas are not the people who caused the problems, and should not be asked to shoulder the majority of the fix up cost. Friends of Lake Hayes are the people who know most about this Lake and you can see what they think about this approach in their draft submission here. You may want to consider submitting on this topic even if it's the only part of the plan you engage with.
The design of this targetted rate for Lake Hayes was considered the last Finance Committee meeting (see page 61 for the rationale) using the 2018 Economic Assessment of Lake Hayes Remediation report prepared by Castalia (pg 85 of the Finance Committee meeting agenda). The approach is narrow, it apportions economic benefit only and ignores activities further up the catchment (including golf courses, lifestyle blocks, a pine forest, ski area and other activity) which are more likely contributing to the pollution of the Lake, but deemed not to have economic benefit as a result of its restoration.
Other options are presented, and I urge you to look at these and speak up for those other options if you share my concern. You’ll find the details, the options and the costs on page 19 of the consultation document.
2. Transport. This picture is outside the Frankton Kindergarten where not long ago ago young children used the footpath to learn to ride their bicycles. Now they can't get near it because cars park right across it.
We are missing some tricks in transport. We have funding for public transport allocated but have completely ignored the potential of active modes to a) alleviate congestion, b) improve health and wellbeing, and c) reduce our carbon emissions, except where already agreed in various business cases – most prominently Queenstown. Meantime we all ignore situations like the above. If you feel strongly about this and want ORC to enable greater connectivity through shared pathways and or Public Transport, now is the time to speak up.
3. If you live in Arrowtown, Clyde, Milton or anywhere else with bad air quality on still winter nights, you may like to know that our plan allocates no funding and therefore no action, in the first 2 years. This pic is courtesy of NIWA - it's not good to see the air you breathe. This ODT story using ORC data offers some sense of the scale of the issue.
Our air is out of date but won’t be revisited in the first 2 years of this plan. Of course it will cost more in the short term to bring that work forward but if you think we should, do speak up.
4. If you live in the coast, you may be concerned that the Regional Coast Plan, which is well overdue for review, doesn’t hit the plan until 2025. Again, you know what to do.
There are other decisions to be made here – on pests, biodiversity and river management for example. Do check these out and make sure you think we are doing the right things. Submissions close on 9 May. if you would like to discuss – as always feel free to call, email or otherwise contact me.