The University of Otago’s planned CCTV surveillance installation took a hit last week as the university discovered they will likely need resource consent for many of their proposed camera locations.
A university spokesperson told Critic that advice from the DCC is that “consent will not be required for cameras installed within the Campus Zone, which includes some surrounding streets, but not the full extent of the proposed coverage”.
The ‘Campus Zone’ does cover much of the area where the cameras were planned to be implemented, but with the university having “hoped to have the cameras installed sometime this year,” it is a significant roadblock.
However, the Otago Daily Times reported that “many of the areas covered by the $1.275 million project, including parts of George St, Castle St, and Dundas St, were in residential 3-zoned areas”. Within this zone, resource consent is required for certain activities, CCTV camera installation among them.
On the possibility of a public hearing on the installation, OUSA President Hugh Baird told Critic that it could be the key “to hearing what those from the wider community may have to say about the issue as I don't feel this is an issue simply related to the student body. The more consultation the better and I think that's something that the university would also agree with.”
He explained that the “process of consultation is going well. We've had a lot of submissions so far and we have uni representatives coming to speak to the Executive to answer any questions that we may have.”
A question in the OUSA Referendum on the whether the association “should oppose the implementation of CCTV monitoring of the student residential area” resulted in an almost even split, with 51 percent voting ‘yes’ and 49 believing they shouldn’t oppose it.
Former OUSA President (1979-1980) Paul Gourlie told Critic, “Seeing the DCC taking responsibility for the CCTV cameras proposal through the Resource Management Act must give reassurance to all of us that we will enjoy a process that delivers accountability and transparency. Previously our university appeared to be acting alone behind closed doors, the DCC announcement is much healthier, showing the strength of our much celebrated Town ‘n’ Gown relationship.”
The university sought student consultation within issue 14 of Critic, with the final day for feedback being Friday 4 August at 5pm. Whether that date will change as a result of this setback is not clear.