Alan Tristram says despite intense public opposition, the Kāpiti Gateway looks set to get Council approval at a crucial meeting on Thursday.
A report by council orfficials recommends that the KCDC give the plan the go ahead.
Opponents of the scheme say it will increase rates, cost about $800,000 a year to run, and is not needed — and they say ( as of today) they’ve got nearly 3,000 signatures on a petition opposing the plan.
Key Official recommendations
In their report for the next full Council meeting this Thursday, the officials recommend:
‘That the Council approve to proceed with the Kāpiti Gateway project and for the project to proceed in accordance with the project plan on the basis of:
· Option K: biosecurity, visitor/discovery centre, office, gift shop, café and bar/brasserie, OR
· Option J: biosecurity, visitor/discovery centre, gift shop, café and bar/brasserie, OR
· Option F: biosecurity, visitor/discovery centre, office, gift shop.
82 That the Council approve to provide up to 50% funding for the Kāpiti Gateway project ($2.23m)
Costs of the Gateway
The full cost of the Gateway, Te Urihi, is put at $4.46 million by the KCDC.
A Government grant of $2.23 ( 50%) is available.
Government money is not available for running costs which could run as high as $800,000 a year. But various options are being explored to offset the running costs — including a gift shop, a cafe, and charges for those who visit Kāpiti Island.
Mayor thinks he has the backing
I understand Kāpiti Coast Mayor K Gurunthan thinks he has a solid majority of councillors behind him.
He told me recently that progressive projects like this often aroused intense public opposition before they went ahead.
But then, as with the Paraparaumu Library and the Coastlands swimming pool, they won community approval as vital assets.
Petition opposing the plan
The Kāpiti Improvement Society petition opposing the project says: ‘We, the undersigned, oppose the proposed Gateway Project because it is economically unjustifiable, fiscally irresponsible and unsustainable.‘
The Society said today the Petition hqd neaqrly 3,000 signatures.
“Consider the following:
- Where is the benefit for Kapiti Coast residents?
- The annual losses will contribute towards an expected 7% rates increase this financial year, (initially when this petition started it was expected 11%)
- KCDC shut down the I-SITE visitor centre in 2018 because it was uneconomical – costing ratepayers around $200,000 a year to run. Now they are proposing to build a new visitor centre costing $4.9m and up to $800,000 a year to run.
- KCDC ignored the Paraparaumu Beach Business Association survey that was presented to the council meeting on 28th May 2020. 462 people completed the survey KCDC ignored the results of this survey. The survey showed businesses believe the Kapiti Gateway will bring no financial benefit to the business community at the beach, or the ratepayers. These views, from those whose livelihoods in part depend on visitors to the area, have been totally ignored by KCDC. LINK TO SURVEY
- KCDC says visits to the island would take place 365 days a year, and numbers would increase from 6,000 this year to 30,000 just by having a building. This is not even possible as trips to the island are entirely weather dependent. Over the last 20 years, the average number of sailing days has been around 160 per year.
- Council staff have acknowledged that these increased visitor numbers are not possible, and that the Gateway would have to be subsidised by ratepayers.
- One of the two companies who provide boat services oppose the Gateway and say it may even put them out of business.
- KCDC is proposing to use ratepayers money to fund the entire running costs of this bio security and ticketing office.
- There is no evidence a Gateway is needed for bio-security for the island. For the past 35 years the current arrangements have been 100% secure.
- Although the community say more car parks are needed at Paraparaumu Beach, 17 car parks will be lost through this project.
- Council is going against its own recommendations for “Coastal Retreat” due to future climate change.
- 68% of the total building is for sole use bio security and storage for visiting Kapiti Island. The remainder of the floor area is for ticketing, staff and tourism information, is this acceptable?
Put resident’s needs first – If the Gateway proceeds these priorities will have to go:
- Affordable rates – projected rates increase this year – 11%
- Waikanae library replacement (up to $13m.)
- Repairs to Te Newhanga Community Centre ($1.3m)
- Paekakariki seawall will cost millions
- Bringing up pensioner housing in the district to the latest government standards.”