By Alan Tristram
February 26, 2010
In a highly-controversial move, the Kapiti Coast District Council has voted by a small majority to link up with a Government-sponsored move to fast track an Expressway through the heart of the district.
The Council voted to discuss joining the Expressway Alliance with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).
The move came despite impassioned pleas from about 20 members of the public to oppose plans for the four-lane Expressway, which will go through land set aside for a two-lane link road with walkways, cycleways and extensive landscaping.
Alliance is ‘for large and … high-cost projects’
The Council was told the Alliance is a form of contract for large, and generally high-cost, projects.
It involves a consortium of consultants and construction companies to plan and build the road. This ‘Alliance’ will be a partnership, with the NZTA working with the commercial groups and being part of the Alliance Board.
Half of the councillors at the KCDC meeting flatly opposed joining the Alliance – but Mayor Jenny Rowan’s vote tipped the balance.
The councillors who voted ‘No’ to the project are: Councillors Peter Daniel, Sandra Patton, Tony Jack, and Lyndy McIntyre.
Those for are: Councillors Diane Ammundsen, Peter Ellis, Anne Molineux and Hilary Wooding.
Council conditions for membership
Although the KCDC voted to talk about being a member of the Alliance, it hedged this with several conditions, including –
- ‘milestones’ for reassessments of council involvement
- council’s automatic right to withdraw if NZTA overrules a decision by the Alliance board
- Protocols allowing the KCDC to work ‘transparently’ with the community and tangata whenua.
- Council to have ‘no liability’ for any costs arising from the Alliance contract
The KCDC also voted to prepare, with the community, its own set of goals to be negotiated with the Alliance.
Cr Jack: ‘We have handled this wrongly’
One of the strongest opponents of the scheme was Councillor Jack who said: “I think we have handled this completely wrongly.
“First and foremost we must represent our community.
“If they are going to build a Government road, let them build it.”
He said the council report shows ratepayers are already ‘out by $6.4 million – and would have to ‘pay $300,000 for the next two years just to engage.’
Councillor McIntyre said the Council should ‘stand firm’ and stand by a sustainable approach when the overwhelming majority of the community opposed the government decision to build the expressway.
“Inside the tent’’
Cr Ellis and other speakers favouring the Alliance move said the KCDC needed to be ‘inside the tent.’
Cr Wooding said ‘we have to be responsible to the community and get the best possible deal for them.’
She warned the meeting that “the Minister (Stephen Joyce) has huge influence in Cabinet. He is not going to change his mind.”
Cr Molineux, a consistent advocate for the Expressway, said the KCDC must recognise the decision had been made — and the Council should now do its best for the community by engaging with the Alliance.