ORC likely to consult on regional stadium

Now it has the approval of all the region's territorial local authorities involved in funding a new stadium in Dunedin, the Otago Regional Council is taking the next step and preparing to consult the community on the issue.

The move comes after the Waitaki District Council - the only Otago local authority that had not given the ORC authorisation to put $37.5 million towards the proposed Awatea St stadium - changed its stance and gave approval on Monday.

In an urgent item added to the council's finance and corporate committee meeting yesterday, chief executive Graeme Martin said the approval, while welcomed, left the ORC in a difficult place.

The ORC had already decided it would not make a final decision on funding the stadium until after the Dunedin City Council had. This was expected to happen in late May or June.

However, this left the ORC in a ‘‘chicken or egg situation''.

Given the ORC's processes took more time, it needed to look at including a proposal about the stadium in its annual plan and Long Term Council Community Plan, which would be decided at the end of June, he said.

It would put the regional council on a similar time-line to the city council, if it decided to support the stadium.

The committee yesterday approved a recommendation the council proceed towards a Long Term Council Community Plan amendment for public consultation over the proposal to fund a regional stadium.

There were also issues to consider including caveats to deal with the uncertainties surrounding the project and when the money would be needed and how, Mr Martin said.

As a rating resolution would need to be passed, it was thought the council would not be able to provide funding until the 2009-10 year, which would be in line with construction and give more assurance regarding the detailed design, including the roofing question.

He recommended the council give staff direction to begin developing documentation that could be considered during the plan processes, including funding options, any caveats and potential timing of any cashflow, which the committee carried.

Cr Michael Deaker said he never liked the idea of tagging along waiting until someone told the council what to do, so he was pleased to support the recommendations.

‘‘I was worried we'd be seen to be an anchor holding back the whole boat, as our processes take longer.''

The recommendations meant the ORC was in charge of its own destiny and could get out and consult its own constituents across the region.

‘‘It puts us in a much more advantageous position.''

The recommendation will be considered by the full council on February 13.

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