Submitters address council on draft strategy

The people of Central Otago told their council they want a thriving economy and this week had the chance to voice their opinions on its draft economic and business development strategy.

The strategy, penned by council economic development manager Warwick Hawker, outlines the district's current economic situation, the risks to it and an action plan.

That action plan includes promotion of regional identity, business development and employment growth, council involvement with Otago-wide initiatives, and research.

The strategy had gone out for public consultation in June and 19 submissions were received.

Five people spoke to their submissions at a Central Otago District Council meeting on Wednesday, despite a comment from Cr Terry Emmitt during the meeting that the strategy was ''boring, absolutely boring'' and residents were ''sick and tired'' of consultation.

Roger Browne, of Alexandra, was concerned about lignite and open-cast mining in the district and suggested it might be better to leave the fuel in the ground until technology advancements meant it could be extracted with a lesser effect on the atmosphere.

He also said the district needed to further capitalise on cycle tourism.

Graye Shattky, of St Bathans, urged the council to consider the future and said the ''fallout of not caring for our environment over the decades is all coming home to roost''.

''To ignore something that needs to be done falls into the category ... of wilful blindness ... if we could have done or should have done but chose not to have then we are all responsible.''

He said it might be time for the council to stand up to central government.

Jolyon Manning, of Alexandra, said Central Otago needed to be more aware of community vocations, or each community's selling points.

Councillors accepted the submissions which will, where appropriate, be included in the final strategy document. The strategy is due to be completed next month. Mayor Tony Lepper said the submissions seemed to say council was on track.

''This was the time people could tell us to change focus and direction but [this] seems to say we're heading in the right direction.''

-sarah.marquet@odt.co.nz

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