Departing councillor voices concern about trail

Oamaru ward Waitaki district councillor Hugh Perkins gives his valedictory speech in council chambers yesterday as Crs Jan Wheeler, Jim Hopkins and Guy Percival (right) listen. Photo: Hamish MacLean
Oamaru ward Waitaki district councillor Hugh Perkins gives his valedictory speech in council chambers yesterday as Crs Jan Wheeler, Jim Hopkins and Guy Percival (right) listen. Photo: Hamish MacLean
Three-term councillor and former Waitaki deputy mayor Hugh Perkins said it was an ''honour and a privilege'' to serve as a district councillor, as he addressed his colleagues at the final Waitaki District Council meeting of the triennium yesterday.

Cr Perkins started his short, at times self-deprecating, valedictory speech lamenting the council's lack of a responsible cat ownership bylaw, the cancellation of the $7 million cultural facilities redevelopment project, and its over-remunerated company directors and ''seriously under-remunerated'' community board members.

He also said while the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail had put the district on the map - it was not an unqualified success.

Another looming tourism project - the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark - could face similar pitfalls.

''It has to be acknowledged that original plans to make the [Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail] self-funding have failed to bear fruit. Some entrepreneurs along the trail are struggling to establish sustainable businesses. And ratepayers will be picking up the tab for a long time, maybe forever . . . This only increases my concern about the open-ended commitment we are continuing to make to the geopark, with an almost laughable business validation case, but in the absence of a robust business plan.''

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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