Council to consult on park lease

Whether the Waitaki District Council will lease a parcel of land at Awamoa Park to St John to build an ambulance station will be be decided only after public consultation takes place.

In May 2019, when the public first heard about the emergency rescue organisation's plans for a purpose-built ambulance station for Oamaru within the park, it was not popular with some people.

St John in June physically marked out the footprint of the building it wanted to put up beside State Highway 1.

At the first meeting of the full council today, councillors will consider whether to embark on a full public consultation process to hear the district’s views on what has at times been a controversial proposal.

In a twist that will not impact on the handling of the proposal or the decision to seek public feedback, it has been revealed the park was previously thought to be a Crown-owned reserve, but an investigation into the property ownership shows the park is actually owned by the council and not the Crown.

Under both the Reserves Act 1977 and the Local Government Act 2002, council has the same obligation to consult with the public and also has the same decision-making ability under each consultation process.

Council chief executive Fergus Power said either way, the public needed to be included in the process.

"The Waitaki District Council has been approached by St John regarding St John’s interest in building an ambulance centre on leased land on Awamoa Park, Oamaru. Section 138 of the Local Government Act 2002 requires that council consult with our community before leasing part of Awamoa Park, as the proposed lease will be for a period in excess of six months. While the Act is silent on exactly how such consultation might be done, council is keen to hear all views regarding the proposal and it is intended that a full 30-day period be provided for consultation."

In June, the Otago Daily Times reported St John documents showed it wanted a public consultation and the granting of a resource consent to occur in 2019, and an aspiration to complete the project by the second quarter of 2021.

On Friday, the council’s assets group manager Neil Jorgensen said that timeframe was impossible and the delay was "just part of the process".


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