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"Omarama is fast approaching a real crisis point," Omarama Residents and Ratepayers Association chairwoman Ann Patterson says.
The town of about 300 people at the junction of State Highways 8 and 83 was on the South Island’s main tourist route between Christchurch, Aoraki Mt Cook, Queenstown, and Milford Sound.
As well, the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail and nearby Oteake Conservation Park and Ahuriri Conservation Park were drawing huge numbers of tourists to the town and its infrastructure could not cope, she said.
"It just really guts you to see this tiny town being trashed basically and that’s exactly what’s happening. That’s the truth of it," Mrs Patterson said.
"There’s so many vehicles parked haphazardly, so many people walking everywhere.
"It’s just chaos and I actually really, really think we’re at crisis point regarding the parking and the toilet situation.
"It’s pretty bad."
Mrs Patterson and three other association members presented their concerns to the Waitaki District Council during last week’s public hearings for the council’s proposed 2018-28 long-term plan: Omarama needs a town plan now — before it is too late.
Pedestrian safety, parking, rubbish and toilets needed to be addressed.
Mrs Patterson said a new large parking area for the town, with a toilet, would be required and she wanted the council to rezone or buy land to allow that to happen.
Jemma Gloag said the association was keen to avoid the issues other towns that had experienced rapid growth were facing.
Many in the town had seen the significant increase of people and that "it really is just struggling to cope".
"It’s just crazy how quickly it has come on and I think that is probably what has driven a lot of people to do something about it. Because suddenly it’s like ‘Wow, there are a lot of people here, we need to be able to cope with that.’
"You want to have a good plan in place before the population grows."
She told councillors that, despite a recent Sport Otago assessment otherwise, the town needed a new sports facility. While the planning was still in the conceptual stage, the association had raised $40,000 to start "chipping away" at the fundraising for multipurpose courts, which could include three tennis courts and netball courts.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the council did "appreciate the pressure" the town was under and a "bigger conversation" would be required to address the community’s concerns.