Does anyone in Christchurch care about the long-term future of the city’s water?
The recent attendance at drop-in sessions throughout the city on the draft Integrated Water Strategy would suggest not.
Up to $10 billion has been budgeted for water management in the city council’s Long Term Plan, yet there was a near-zero turnout at the drop-in information sessions held over the last month.
Over the eight drop-in sessions held across the city, about 19 people in total attended.
Other publicly consulted matters have had more than 1000 submissions, so the low turnout at the water strategy drop-in sessions comes as a surprise.
“I’ve been to a lot of drop-in sessions over the last few years, and I’ve never seen such a low turnout,” said Think Papanui’s Simon Britten.
The Bishopdale and Belfast drop-in sessions had only two people attend at each session.
Bishopdale Community Trust co-ordinator Chris Coles said generally there has been good attendance at similar drop-in meetings.
“It looks like water isn’t such a high priority in people’s minds,” said Mr Coles.
Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board member Aaron Campbell said people are concerned about issues that impact on them now but aren’t as interested in long-term issues.
“When it comes to the longer-term stuff, the bigger picture stuff, trying to get people excited and engaged on that, it’s a heck of a lot harder,” Mr Campbell said.
He said the lack of engagement could be due to the high amount of public consultation over city council issues.
Said Di Keenan, city council head of public information and participation: “Considering our promotion of this consultation has been consistent with other consultations of city-wide importance, these numbers are unusually low.”
“We notified more than 190 stakeholders and community groups via email at the start of consultation, and asked them to share the information with their networks,” she said.
The city council advertised the meetings on radio, Facebook, Twitter, Neighbourly and in newspapers.
Consultation has now closed on the strategy, and 35 submissions were received on the strategy.
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