Development plan approved, but concerns remain over costs

The Waitaki District Council has adopted a development plan for Oamaru Harbour, but some councillors are concerned about how to pay for it.

The first stage has been approved with $1.3 million already budgeted.

That funding is made up of $115,600 from rates, $670,000 from a loan, $75,530 from harbour endowment, $355,500 from Resource Management Act reserves and $130,000 from grants.

But some councillors raised questions at a Waitaki District Council meeting on Tuesday about where the remaining $2.7 million would come from.

Corporate services group manager Carolyn Carter said some of the money could be raised through a combination of rates and community groups, as well as being partly offset by future property-value increases.

Cr Geoff Keeling described that as "a nice story", but said the reality was the remainder of the money "needs to come from somewhere".

Cr Hugh Perkins said he was not keen on "For Sale signs all over the harbour" as the development process was just beginning. Now would be the worst time to sell for ratepayers and it would be sensible to retain control while leasing properties.

Cr Peter Garvan said the council should be open to selling assets they lacked the funds to improve.

Areas included for upgrades include the freezer building and north of the Oamaru stream; the old carnival site and Friendly Bay, the railgoods yard area; wharves and slipways; roads; and the Portside beach and eastern tip. A rail-to-ocean foreshore project is also included in the plans.

The intention is to better connect the harbour to the town and rejuvenate parks and beaches by making them more family-friendly.

A steampunk-themed playground would be created, along with outdoor stages for entertainment and storyboards depicting the harbour's history and marine life.

It is hoped the new commercial opportunities and development will appeal to people of all ages and help increase tourism.

The Oamaru Harbour Development Strategy is based on numerous reports and plans over the past 20 years, and will be reviewed every three years.



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