Shag viewing area dependent on plan

Oamaru Harbour is home to the world’s largest Otago shag colony.  PHOTO: HAMISH MACLEAN
Oamaru Harbour is home to the world’s largest Otago shag colony. PHOTO: HAMISH MACLEAN
Approved projects at Oamaru Harbour are not on hold as the Waitaki District Council prepares a master plan for the area.

And council assets group manager Neil Jorgensen this weeksaid work on a new entrance to Holmes Wharf was imminent, as was preparatory work for the installation of solar-powered globe lighting on the 25 unused concrete poles along the Esplanade.

However, one project approved at the same July council meeting is not likely to go ahead until the master plan is in place, Mr Jorgensen said.

A $35,000 budget was established for a dedicated viewing area for Oamaru Harbour's colony of the rare Otago shag - the largest and northernmost colony of Otago's only endemic seabird - but at the meeting the exact location of the viewing area was not agreed upon.

Mr Jorgensen said the council's property team, which is responsible for the projects, had been dealing with other priorities after the council-owned Forrester Gallery closed when toxic mould was discovered in the upstairs gallery and consequent investigations found mould throughout the building and asbestos in some areas - and the North Otago Museum's reopening date was pegged to an anticipated visit from Unesco officials later this year.

While the relatively minor project ($1500) of removing the fencing at the entrance to Holmes Wharf in favour of Oamaru stone blocks and signage and the installation of solar-powered globe lighting at the Esplanade ($20,000) could now be progressed by the property team, the shag viewing area was "probably a little bit lower down" the priority list, Mr Jorgensen said.

"We maybe do want some more input from the plan before absolutely deciding what that might look like," he said. "That's been a little bit more difficult and complicated with the other parties involved. We just didn't have time to devote to it."

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