Candidates debate housing in pre-election discussion

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PAM.JONES

@alliedpress.co.nz

Environmental, housing and development issues dominated the first Central Otago “meet the candidates” session in the lead-up to the local government elections.

The issues were discussed by 18 candidates who took part in a pre-election presentation that was hosted by Grey Power Central Otago in Alexandra last week.

The candidates were standing for various council wards and community boards, as well as the Otago Regional Council and Southern District Health Board. Central Otago mayoral candidates Victoria Bonham and Tim Cadogan also took part.

Many candidates spoke of Central Otago’s housing crisis and several members of the public at the meeting said it was the biggest issue facing the district.

Mr Cadogan said he was keen to see the recommendations made by the Central Otago Affordable Housing Trust he had established. He also encouraged people to take an interest in Alexandra’s proposed Leaning Rock retirement village, which he said was desperately needed.

Ms Bonham said environmental issues were her main concern, and her standing for mayor was about “having different conversations and hearing the voices that are not being heard”.

She was also concerned about health issues in Central Otago, as well as housing.

Regional council candidates said they would lobby for greater consideration of Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes issues – including pest control, water, transport – and wanted scientific data to back decisions.

The Queenstown-Lakes District Council’s application to the regional council for a 35-year permit to discharge wastewater overflows – including sewage – into waterways also came under scrutiny at the meeting. Several local government candidates said they opposed the application, but regional council candidate and sitting Queenstown councillor Alexa Forbes said the application was “greatly misunderstood”.

Ms Forbes, who is the chairwoman of the Queenstown council’s infrastructure committee, said if the application was granted with tighter conditions than were at present proposed, and for only 10 years, it would provide time for issues to be addressed.

She said approval to discharge should not be for new plants, only existing ones, and discharges were already occurring.

Meet the candidates

More “meet the candidates” meetings are being held in Central Otago and the Queenstown Lakes district. Upcoming meetings are:

  • Tonight, Alexandra Memorial Hall, 6.30pm. Central Otago candidates standing for all wards and organisations have been invited to attend.
  • Sunday, Lake Hawea Community Centre, 3-5pm. For Queenstown-Lakes district candidates. Will include questions about Hawea issues.
  • September 15, Wanaka, venue/time to be confirmed. For Otago Regional Council Dunstan ward candidates.
  • September 16, Ranfurly, venue/time to be confirmed. For regional council candidates.
  • September 17, Cromwell Presbyterian Church, 7pm. For mayoral, Cromwell council and community board, regional council and Central Otago-based Southern District Health Board candidates.
  • September 19, Roxburgh Memorial Hall, 7pm. For mayoral, Teviot Valley community board and regional council candidates.
  • September 20, Cromwell, venue/time to be confirmed. For regional council candidates.
  • September 22, Alexandra, venue/time to be confirmed. For regional council candidates.
  • September 24, Frankton, venue/time to be confirmed. For regional council candidates.