The Lakefront development will go ahead despite a petition being launched to stop it, a Rotorua district councillor says.
Rotorua Lakes Council's Operations and Monitoring Committee chairman Charles Sturt shut down discussions about a petition to stop development of the Lakefront in this morning's meeting, saying it would go ahead regardless because it was "already in the Long-term Plan".
The Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers (RDRR) group has opposed the investment of almost $40 million into the redevelopment of the city Lakefront and launched a petition to stop it earlier this week.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick repeatedly referred to the petition, and associated press release from the RDRR, during the meeting.
She asked chief financial officer Thomas Collé for the validity of a "very odd statement" the council was yet to pay off a "bill of $27 million" from prior redevelopments.
Collé said he was unaware of the statement but would look into it.
Chadwick also asked Monty Morrison during his Kaiwhakahaere Māori presentation to ensure there had been no "insensitivity shown" to the culturally sensitive sites on the Lakefront.
Morrison said there was certainly the willingness and commitment there to be able to help in ensuring consultation with iwi.
Rotorua Lakes Council strategic development manager Portia McKenzie gave a presentation to the committee on the Lakefront redevelopment.
The presentation dissolved into a debate over public consultation when councillor Rob Kent said he wondered when the redevelopment "would actually go out to public consultation to get their views on spending $40 million".
Deputy mayor Dave Donaldson was quick to call a point of order, saying he sat at the container on the Lakefront "on numerous occasions" during the LTP consultation with these concepts.
"It was extensive public consultation."
As Kent tried to respond he was told by Sturt, "I am running this meeting, not you Councillor Kent".
"I think that the councillor is not [up to date] with the level of engagement and consultation that went into the LTP and the business case, not to mention the economic impact assessment," Donaldson said.
Kent rebutted that what the council consulted on was not what "we were seeing now".
"What was consulted was a plan that was drawn up a few years ago that was 'this is the sort of thing we want to do'."
Donaldson said the consultation was also on the level of spending people were happy with.
Sturt asked McKenzie to elaborate on whether the consultation had been sufficient.
"Consultation with those directly affected and with key stakeholders is not finished," she said.
"We will continue to do this over the next couple of years and make sure there will be direct consultation with those stakeholders to make sure their needs are considered in the design."
Chadwick said she was "itching to have a say".
"This was the biggest announcement that this council will have as a legacy into the future and it was incredibly exciting and I congratulate you and I congratulate the people that worked on this."
She said she sat through "many of the public meetings" held as consultation and noted, "Some who are very opposed to this, didn't go to those, funnily enough".
She asked how the council was going to move forward with consultation and said it was important, but "certainly not the Christmas tree and those little things".
Sturt directed the questions to the chief executive because there were "political connotations" to the questions asked.
Chief executive Geoff Williams said people could be assured significant engagement had taken place and more engagement would occur.