DCC open workshop attracts no members of public

Dunedin City Council staff members Leanne Mash (centre) and Jeanette Wikaira (right)  present...
Dunedin City Council staff members Leanne Mash (centre) and Jeanette Wikaira (right) present community feedback from the 10-year plan early engagement survey to councillors yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
After years of discussions behind closed doors, Dunedin City Council workshops finally opened to the public — to an empty house.

A workshop on early engagement feedback on the council’s 10-year plan was held yesterday at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

Council chief executive Sandy Graham said the workshops were first made open to the public earlier this month.

They were a mechanism for briefing councillors on material, sometimes particularly complex matters and information that did not need to be included in a report, in advance of meetings, she said.

Ms Graham said the workshops had been opened to the public to provide greater transparency.

However, the workshop attracted the presence of not a single member of the public.

At the workshop staff presented to council their results of consultation with the community, between October 5 and 31, on issues relating to the 10-year plan.

The online survey, as well as a separate online feedback portal, attracted a total of 859 responses and 400 comments from the public.

Communications and city marketing manager Leanne Mash said the early engagement had attracted an "incredibly healthy" level of response.

"The fact that people went through the survey, decided the level of activity they wanted to see from council and then still made these comments, I think that bodes really well," she said.

Across six categories, 71% of those who responded wanted the council to do a "lot more work plus a bit more" on environment and sustainability issues.

A total of 414 additional responses wanted the council to consider further resilience to climate change, and protection for wildlife and the environment, while expressing concern about increased rates and fees.

Cr Bill Acklin sought clarification the responses indicated the council should provide more work on environmental issues without rates rising, which Ms Graham said illustrated the "conundrum of the 10-year plan."

Cr Steve Walker said that people had contacted him frustrated there was not a separate category in the survey about wildlife.

He had instructed them to submit their concerns in another section and was pleased to have seen it captured in the data regardless.

The council had also received a written contribution from Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand (HNZ), which wanted better accessibility, especially for the ageing population, and a better Treaty partnership.