The ink on the Dunedin City Council’s 2015 Long Term Plan is nearly dry for yet another year and undoubtedly there will be some winners and losers in the community. Annually the Dunedin Amenities Society fronts up to the City Council to promote the values and landscape of the city seeking reassurances that funding won’t be lost or reduced. The other aspect of the Society’s submissions over the years has been the worrying trend of declining standards around, litter, vandalism and general maintenance of the many parks and public spaces reserves enjoyed by the community. In some regards taking similar concerns to the Council each year is a little soul-destroying because of the realisation that it’s almost like a broken record. However, as an organisation the Society have an obligation to act as a voice of advocacy for these issues because of their importance in our community and in the wider recognition of the values of Dunedin.
The Society’s 2015 submission focused very strongly around the growing interest from the public in the two Town Belt Traverse events that it has undertaken in 2013 and 2015. The idea of creating the Traverse into a permanent interpretative trail has strong appeal. The recreational, heritage and conservation benefits has positive spin-offs for the community and the tourist economy, as well as an opportunity to link social institutions such as Toitu, Moana Pool and Olveston. However, without investment in basic management and maintenance of the tracks and footpaths in the Town Belt the project is likely to stall and founder. Simply put, recreational and commuter walking access is essential to the project and improvements to these assets are imperative to make the Traverse usable and an enjoyable visitor experience. The Society highlighted these issues which are in most cases are no more than minor works in a presentation to Councillors at the Long Term Plan hearings and this can be viewed here. Amenities Society LTP Presentation. A full copy of the society’s submission can also be read here. Amenities Society Submission Annual Plan 2015
The launching of the Draft Long Term Plan (2012-2022) and the Annual Plan (2012-2013) by the Dunedin City Council is a continuation of a public process which envelopes the city, its ratepayers and many organisations over the coming months. While the City Council prepares its programme for the coming financial year and beyond, there’s a degree of cynicism over the process when considering that many of the spending priorities are already in place. This begs the question how can the community and organisations like the Society have a realistic say in influencing the Council’s budgetary process? In reality its more a show of hands by those that are prepared to take an interest in what the Council’s actual vision really might be. Which is hardly a convincing majority given the numbers of submissions compared to the ratepayers who actually contribute financially to the Council coffers. This strengthens the view that many of the lines within the Annual Plan’s sand are already drawn. However, while we have a democratic process to participate in, the Society will freely give its opinions to the Councillors sitting at the Annual Plan table. Dunedin’s environmental, heritage and recreational landscape is far too important not to take an interest in. Indeed its economic and social fabric is inextricably linked to all three values.