Floated revamp could move council role

As Queenstown’s and Wānaka’s populations grow, one Otago regional councillor role will be taken from Dunedin and moved to the Dunstan ward under a proposed revamp.

Councillors will be asked to sign off on consultation tomorrow on the change that would be in place for elections next year and again in 2028.

A staff report said the "key issue" the Otago Regional Council was dealing with in its six-yearly representation review was significant population growth in the Dunstan ward, made up of the Central Otago district and Queenstown Lakes district council areas.

In early engagement on the issue one theme to emerge was "challenges with access to elected members", the report said.

"The region [Dunstan] includes rapidly growing urban areas like Queenstown, Wānaka, Cromwell and also Luggate and Hawea that have interests in common in terms of urban housing, transport connections, civil defence and emergency preparedness and visitor numbers.

"The region includes communities of interest around rural areas with viticulture, horticulture, along with sheep and beef and dairy farming", the report said.

To address fair and effective representation the council would propose raising the number of councillors who represent the area from the three to four, it said.

In March, councillors heard that since the council’s last representation review, in 2018, the Dunstan constituency had grown from 57,400 people to an estimated 78,800, far exceeding the growth in other areas.

Over the same span, the Dunedin constituency (central Dunedin and the city’s Waikouaiti Coast, West Harbour, Otago Peninsula and Saddle Hill community board areas) had only grown from 110,800 to 115,200 people.

At the workshop, councillors indicated they wanted the present total number of councillors, 12, to remain the same.

So to address the growth in inland Otago, the number of councillors representing Dunedin would drop from six to five.

There had been some discussion during the early parts of the review around creating a new constituency for the Upper Lakes area, but this was not part of the recommended proposal.

There was also discussion around whether Mosgiel should remain in the Molyneux ward, or join Dunedin with which there were strong community ties.

However, legislation around how many people each councillor ought to represent, combined with the Molyneux ward’s large geographical area and low population base led to leaving Mosgiel in the ward for the proposal.

Molyneux would continue to be represented by two councillors.

Like Molyneux, the Moeraki ward in North Otago would remain the same.

It would continue to be represented by one councillor.

The report to be presented to councillors this week noted that in August last year another change for Otago voters was decided on — the electoral system would be changed from first past the post to single transferrable vote for the next two elections, it said.