Objection to O-Week deadline

Darel Hall
Darel Hall
The Otago University Students' Association would think twice about holding Orientation Week events at Forsyth Barr Stadium if the Dunedin City Council sticks with an 11.30pm cut-off time.

OUSA yesterday objected to the conditions of a resource consent which meant the two music events it plans to hold at the stadium in O-Week would have to finish at 11.30pm.

This comes after there were 58 noise complaints as a result of last year's O-Week events at the stadium, which had to finish by midnight. OUSA also objected to conditions restricting sound checks to two hours and requiring it to monitor the noise of the two events.

OUSA general manager Darel Hall called on the council's hearings committee to reinstate the midnight cut-off.

If the council did not change the time, the association would think twice about holding events at the stadium and instead look at holding more events at the Union Hall on campus, where there were no restrictions.

Not allowing events to run until midnight could also result in more anti-social O-Week behaviour as students would spend more time in an unsupervised environment, Mr Hall said.

Not having O-Week events at the stadium could ''damage the reputation of the city'' as New Zealand's ''premier'' location for students and a drop in student numbers would hit the city's economy, he said.

Some of the complaints made by residents last year would be addressed by the fact that fewer O-Week activities were being held at the stadium this year - two events as opposed to four main events last year - and OUSA would be carrying out a leaflet drop to the worst-affected areas, he said.

This year's biggest act Seattle hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were also less bass-heavy than Shapeshifter, which attracted the most complaints last year.

Mr Hall said the issue could have been resolved if the council had discussed its concerns with OUSA.

The University of Otago supported OUSA's objection, with student services director David Richardson and property services division policy adviser Katrina Roos speaking on behalf of a submission signed by vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne, who was out of the city.

''The committee's decision over the finishing time for the events will have a significant consequences for OUSA's use of the Forsyth Barr Stadium in the future,'' Ms Roos said.

Mr Richardson said it was a matter of student safety.

''At the stadium, students can be easily supervised and monitored. Once they leave the stadium, it is much more difficult to ensure their safety.''

Council senior planner John Sule said he ''sat on the fence'' whether to extend to midnight, but agreed with OUSA's other objections.

He could see both sides of the argument regarding the midnight cut-off and it was up to the committee to balance residents' concerns against those of the OUSA and university.

The committee needed to consider whether extending to midnight would have a ''more than minor'' impact on residents, in which case affected parties would have to be notified before consent was issued. Council senior environmental officer Wayne Boss, who monitored sound after last year's complaints, said residents had legitimate concerns.

At last year's events, people living a ''considerable distance'' from the stadium could clearly hear the noise from O-Week events.

Hearing committee chairman Colin Weatherall said a decision would be made quickly.

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz