Better urban environments

We want urban development that doesn’t encroach on highly productive land and minimises impacts on water quality.

Our patch includes New Zealand’s fastest-growing area—the Queenstown Lakes District. Between 2013 and 2018, census figures tell us that the district grew 6.8% per year on average. Other urban areas in Otago are also growing.

This growth brings challenges, including housing shortages and environmental impacts.

Our new Otago Regional Policy Statement (RPS) will be notified in 2020-21. It sets the direction for future management of Otago’s natural and physical resources and includes a stronger focus on managing urban development.

What do we want? Broadly, we want urban development that doesn’t encroach on highly productive land and minimises impacts on water quality. We also have responsibilities for working to ensure that there is enough capacity for development to support future housing needs. This is new work for ORC.

You’ve told us that sediment in waterways from urban development is not acceptable. We’ve heard you and taken action when needed. In future, we want greater controls on sedimentation in urban areas because we agree that those effects need stronger management.

Public transport is an area we’ve been busy in and where we’ll be doing more. Our changes to public transport services in Dunedin and Queenstown have been well received. To further build on this, we recognise the need to ensure working conditions are fair, including a living wage for our bus drivers.

Orbus Queenstown is playing a part in reducing urban congestion and carbon emissions. This year we added an additional direct service between Lake Hayes and downtown Queenstown. We’re also consulting with the Queenstown community on options for a water ferry trial on Lake Wakatipu, as one of a number of transport solutions under the Way To Go partnership with Queenstown Lakes District Council and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA). You can read more detailed information and have your say online on the Wakatipu Ferry trial from 14 April.

In Dunedin, the Orbus service has been greatly enhanced by the central city bus hub providing a better-connected network with easy transfers in a central location. In the coming year, as we review the Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP), we will look at fares, zones and network changes. We continue to work with our Connecting Dunedin partners, Dunedin City Council and NZTA, on how to encourage and incentivise more bus use. This partnership will also be pivotal in changing behaviour as major construction starts for the hospital, waterfront and tertiary precinct.

There’s plenty more to come to build a better future for our urban environments. In 2020-21, we’ll be exploring how our transport planning and actions integrate with urban development. You will have an opportunity to consider this via the planned review of our Regional Land Transport Plan.

What we're doing about it...

Respecting our land

Where will people live in Otago in the future and how do we protect our productive land?

An ORC team is about to start painting the picture of our land’s productive qualities and how these integrate with our communities’ urban growth needs.

Otago already has excellent soil mapping and climatic data from GROWOtago. By adding social and economic data into the mix, we’ll learn more about how and where it’s best for urban and rural residential areas to grow, and about the current use and productive potential of our land. This knowledge will help inform our planning.

It’s important we look after what we’ve got.

Getting around our cities and towns

ORC influences transport in Otago directly through our public transport services and indirectly through our regional and transport planning processes.

Our goal is to give people more sustainable travel choices, to make our urban spaces more liveable and to reduce carbon emissions.

We work closely with local councils and NZTA. We consider opportunities to expand our public transport network in Otago, and encourage people, where possible, to make more sustainable travel choices such as cycling.

Here are some of the activities we're doing in biosecurity and biodiversity...

Biodiversity business case for our future

Our business case will inform a future conversation with the community about ‘how much’ and ‘how fast’ we deliver.

Mapping our biodiversity

Maintaining our biodiversity is a huge challenge.

We need to play our role as regional leaders and partners of community-led biodiversity actions. A key project we’ll be working on in 2020-21 is building an inventory of Otago’s biodiversity that can be shared across groups working in this space.

Creating this database, including mapping ecosystems, is an important step forward in prioritising actions that protect and support our plants and animals to thrive.

Working together to manage pests

Collaborating more with our communities to tackle pest management— that’s our focus this year.

We’ll continue to support community-led projects with funding, teaming up with landowners to provide support and assistance, or sharing resources and knowledge in joint projects with community groups, agencies and neighbouring regional councils.

We need to do more. We’d like to collaborate more with landowners, including establishing landowner-led rabbit control groups.

Working more closely together, we’ll achieve more for our future.

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