Public packs council chambers for forum on zipline

The Waitaki District Council chambers were full for a public forum, presentation and councillor...
The Waitaki District Council chambers were full for a public forum, presentation and councillor debate on a proposal for a zipline at Oamaru Harbour. Photo: Gary Kircher
A packed public gallery yesterday was evidence the Oamaru community "haven't been able to go to a public meeting" about a zipline at Oamaru Harbour, said Cr Peter Garvan.

After the Waitaki District Council chambers were filled to standing room only yesterday, the council voted unanimously to defer consideration of a lease of land to the zipline's proponents until after public consultation.

Cr Garvan said if the council were to go through with council assets group manager Neil Jorgensen's recommendation of agreeing to a lease "in principle" prior to public consultation, many would view the subsequent resource consent process as a "fait accompli".

"We want a steer from the community whether they want a zipline in that location, or not," Cr Garvan said.

Cr Hugh Perkins said he was concerned the consultation already undertaken by Select Contracts "hasn't been adequate".

Of note, two large stakeholders - the Waitaki Tourism Association and the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust - had not been canvassed.

During the public forum before the council vote, Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust chairman Graeme Clark said the trust was "disappointed" not to have been approached by the company and was concerned about a possible negative impact on the harbour, which is a Heritage New Zealand registered historic area.

He also reiterated the trust's request to council "to put on hold any further major development in the harbour area" until a plan was developed for the harbour with input from stakeholders and experts.

Waitaki Tourism Association chairman James Glucksman said while the association was in favour of development of tourism in the district, it was "strongly opposed" to a zipline "anywhere near the harbour" citing wildlife, heritage and aesthetics as concerns.

About a dozen others spoke against the zipline proposal in some form.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, who has excused himself from decision-making on the zipline due to his past affiliation with the proposal, chaired the public forum and watched a presentation from Select Contracts, but left the room for the council discussions.

Select Contracts regional director Darron Charity said the company had no interest in imposing a zipline on a community that did not want it.

"We're genuinely asking for permission," he said.

When requesting the lease in principle, the company had proposed a three-month public consultation.

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