A plan to combine four of Wellington's attractions into an "Eco City" has been watered down, but they will still be expected to work together.
The creation of a Wellington City Council-controlled organisation to oversee Zealandia, Wellington Zoo, the Botanic Garden and Otari-Wilton's Bush, to be named Eco City, has been scrapped by council officers.
Instead, they have recommended the creation of a board of trustees to oversee the four attractions as a "partnership", with the council providing back-office services for the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary in Karori.
The watered-down partnership proposal will be debated by councillors at tomorrow's strategy and policy committee meeting.
The Eco City proposal came after the council raised concerns about Zealandia's business model, and set up a working group last December to look at the sanctuary's latest funding requests.
The group said in April that Zealandia should not receive any further funding until its governance and operational problems were solved.
However, Forest & Bird chairman Peter Hunt said creating a council-controlled organisation would make the public think of the four attractions as a "theme park", and restrict the council's vision of an eco-friendly city.
Under the revised model, the four attractions would be overseen by a single board of trustees, as well as introducing a partnership between the Karori Sanctuary Trust and the council.
A new memorandum of understanding between the board and the council would look at ways to reduce costs for Zealandia, and include parameters for appointing an interim board of trustees.
The first task of the board would be to undertake a governance and business model review of the attractions.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the high level of public feedback on the Eco City proposal showed Wellingtonians were keen to support all four attractions, but also to keep rates at a reasonable level.
The partnership would allow for volunteer and community support to remain at current levels, and include $350,000 of funding for Zealandia in 2012-13, and $700,000 over the next two financial years, depending on results of an independent review. If adopted, regular reviews would be done.
But Mr Hunt said limiting the concept of an eco-city to four specific attractions was a "ridiculous move", as an eco-city should also include community, energy, water and power initiatives.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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