The Dunedin City Council is to consider revamping the way it
consults its community in a push to boost crowds at some
The move comes after consultation on the council's budget
attracted mixed results at public meetings in recent years.
At some public events, empty seats outnumbered those present,
while other events attracted large crowds.
The issue was raised at yesterday's 2014-15 draft annual plan
meeting, when some councillors questioned the merits of
continuing with public meetings that attracted poor turnouts.
Cr Richard Thomson said he was among those unfortunate enough
to be at a poorly attended public information session held
outside the Pak'n Save supermarket on an ''extremely cold''
day last year.
He suggested switching such events to an issues-based
approach, meaning public meetings to discuss specific issues,
like cycleways or changes to the Forsyth Barr Stadium's
Council corporate plan policy analyst Jane Nevill agreed,
saying consideration was already being given to such a
In the past, there had been strong turnouts for meetings in
areas with specific issues, such as Portobello during
construction of the Otago Peninsula cycleway, while other
areas without issues had lower turnouts, she said.
The council could also consider doubling-up on some events,
such as planned consultation on the budget and the council's
second-generation district plan, to target a ''captive
Cr Kate Wilson was among other councillors supporting the
change, saying she would ''love'' to see a meeting in South
Dunedin to discuss the area's proposed community complex.
However, Cr Lee Vandervis urged staff to go further, saying
he took the results of existing public consultation with
''quite a grain of salt'' because of the ability of
unrepresentative minority groups to skew results.
Instead, he suggested the council follow Wanganui's example,
where ratepayers were asked to rank the issues and projects
they were most concerned about.
The DCC could do the same in documents sent out with rates
bills, he suggested.
Ms Nevill said a trial could also be considered in Dunedin,
although the city's quarterly rates bills did not match the
timing of consultation on the council's annual budget.
Cr Aaron Hawkins warned the scheme could fail to capture the
views of tenants who paid rates through rent.
Cr Jinty MacTavish asked for digital financial documents to
be made more easily available to the public in an open excel
format, rather than a closed format, which council chief
executive Dr Sue Bidrose was happy to accept.
Councillors voted to approve the council's consultation plan,
including consideration of councillors' proposed changes.