Boundary changes to be looked at to ensure Arrowtown remains ward

The Queenstown Lakes District Council will consider changing some boundaries to help ensure Arrowtown does not lose its status as a ward with its own council member.

The district now consists of a Queenstown-Wakatipu ward (six councillors), a Wanaka ward (three councillors) and an Arrowtown ward (one councillor).

While Arrowtown meets most of the criteria for being a separate ward, it has 412 too few residents to qualify under Local Government Commission rules.

During previous six-yearly representation reviews, the commission only became involved when there was an appeal.

However, this time, as the result of a law change in 2013, if Arrowtown does not meet the minimum requirement the commission will determine the township's status as if there had been an appeal.

For that reason, the report from the council's electoral officer, Jane Robertson, released yesterday, suggested adding to Arrowtown's population by shifting the ward boundary.

Her recommendation, to be considered at a meeting of the council on Thursday, is to shift two ``mesh blocks'' out of the Queenstown-Wakatipu ward into Arrowtown, with boundaries taking in MacDonnell Rd and the Millbrook Resort area.

The change would not affect the representation of the Queenstown-Wakatipu ward, she said.

``This is a halfway-house option that preserves much of the discreteness of the current Arrowtown ward but brings it much closer to compliance,'' she said.

``It adds areas already considered part of Arrowtown, due to their proximity.

``There has historically been some confusion about which ward these areas are in.''

Arrowtown would still be 102 people short of the minimum required.

However, she did not recommend taking a larger area into Arrowtown, as she was concerned extending the boundary ``too widely'' risked grouping together communities with ``few commonalities'', which could lead to objections.

One other option she considered but rejected was disestablishing the Arrowtown ward and incorporating it into the Queenstown-Wakatipu ward, which would have seven councillors.

This option would address the non-compliance with the Arrowtown ward ``and may encourage more local engagement in the electoral process''.

The public has until August 13 to make submissions. The council is due to consider the final proposal on September 6.

mark.price@odt.co.nz


 

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