It’s clear to most observers that the direction the district is heading in does not have the blessing of our existing residents and there’s a clear disconnect between the growth pursued by the senior leadership team at council and what the public actually want.
This is evident in opposition to airport expansion plans (Frankton and Wanaka), the way developments are foisted on unwilling communities (Hawea) and council’s failure to hold developers to their original plans (Northlake and Kingston).
My view is that council has been lacking in councillors who are sufficiently informed and possess the attributes to ask the hard questions and challenge carefully prepared positions.
I reviewed the minutes of the last 16 council meetings, and for six of those meetings not one comment or opinion from any of the existing Wakatipu Ward councillors was recorded.
Local government works best when the people at the table know what questions to ask and are prepared to ask them. What we currently have though is a council run as a boardroom, not as a representative democracy.
This has to change, as does council’s focus on facilitating an endless sea of houses and hotels. Impacts on existing communities need to be front and centre of council decision making.
This is why I am standing for council.
Our future focus has to be on reducing our carbon emissions, for our children’s sake, if not our own. Our environment, economy and community wellbeing are inexorably linked and we need to consider these three in conjunction, not in isolation.
We know much of our tourism has a heavy environmental impact, is low-paid seasonal work often with poor conditions of employment and impacts on our communities. Why would we want more of the same?
As we implement a climate policy we need to revisit our economic policies and see how we can get more from less instead of just growing more of what really isn’t good for us.
I’d like to see conversations and action around how council can work with farmers to protect land for food production and market gardens and implement policies that assist local food growers.
Let’s focus on attracting employment that really adds to our economy and reduces the gap between those who have and those who don’t by way of more secure and varied employment. Healthcare, tertiary education, production studios, science and research campuses are just some that spring to mind.