Council wary of trust plan

A plan by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean to form a trust for a collaborative approach toward the future of the Omarama and Mackenzie basins has been met with caution by the Waitaki District Council.

Yesterday the council had an extraordinary meeting to discuss the formation of the Mackenzie Sustainable Futures Trust and what approach Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton should take at a two-day meeting, tomorrow and Friday, that had been called by Mrs Dean to discuss its formation.

The council's attitude was described by deputy mayor Jim Hopkins as "putting a toe in the water but not jumping in".

However, one councillor, Kevin Malcolm, attacked Mrs Dean for the approach taken to the trust and the politics behind it.

He was "extremely disappointed" Mrs Dean had "pushed something so important with such haste".

This was "fraught with danger", he said.

He opposed the council's involvement in the trust, saying it had been forced on the council at short notice and that this was poor.

But the overall feeling was the council had to be involved in the initial stages because of the effect it could have on the district and the people in its area.

It agreed Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton could be one of the trustees, but subject to the Mackenzie District Council's participation.

The Mackenzie council will decide on that today.

Further support from the Waitaki council would be determined when the trust's terms of reference, aims and directions were clearly known.

Mrs Dean's proposal for a trust followed the Mackenzie Country symposium in Twizel in November, where Minister for the Environment Nick Smith urged a collaborative approach driven by local people to resolve differences over future development in the two basins.

The trust is being set up quickly because money for it could be available from the Ministry for the Environment's community fund, but the deadline for applications is February 14.

- david.bruce@odt.co.nz

 

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