by Christopher Ruthe LLB
This is a partial victory for residents and ratepayers. Those concerned about the extravagant Gateway project — the Taj Mahal of Kapiti, now widely dubbed the ‘Kaj’ — have been told by the Provincial Growth Fund that their concerns are valid. The Fund is requiring KCDC to answer those concerns. Mr Pigou of the PGF administration says: “My people are in discussions with the Council and have raised these concerns expressed by you and some other members of the local community.”
In his usual fashion, the Mayor has dismissed those opposing the current proposals as mere troublesome naysayers, even though he says his regime is open and transparent. But when information is sought we are told everything is confidential. KCDC cannot tell you what is in its application to the PGF.
In summary the concerns are:
- The Gateway will not be self-funding for at least 6 years, costing ratepayers in excess of $4 million.
- It is opposed by over 70% of residents according to 2 recent surveys.
- The visitor number increases, from 15,000 to 58,000 are totally unrealistic.
- Having every visitor pay $20.00 to use the transit facility will raise adult fares from $80.00 to $100.00 and children’s from $40.00 to $60.00 a 50% increase.
- DOC reduced its fees by $20.00 per person in 2014 because higher fares resulted in a dramatic decline in numbers. KCDC is saying post Covid 19 people will happily pay for the increases, despite research to the contrary.
- There was no consultation on this project because of Covid 19.
- It is counter to the NZ Coastal Policy that opposes buildings on areas adjacent to beaches that may be lost to rising sea levels.
- Jobs are likely to be lost due to a fall in visitor numbers arising from fee increases, and a boat operator being forced to shut down.
Common decency should have the Mayor apologizing for his bullying tactics and his denigration of opponents. The Mayor should accept that in a democracy an open debate about the merits or otherwise of major expenditure of ratepayer money is to be encouraged.