Four years and almost $1 million later, the Gore District Council is no closer to deciding whether to go ahead with a controversial pedestrian and cycle bridge.
At the first ordinary meeting of the new council last week, councillors voted to again hold off on the construction of an essential pipeline crossing the Mataura River in Gore, having yet to decide whether it will double as a pedestrian and cycle bridge.
After a lengthy discussion, it was agreed council staff would investigate the different options and locations for the potential bridge and put those forward to councillors.
Cr Bronwyn Reid said it was important to consult with the community on the matter, but not until they knew what their options were.
However, Three Waters asset manager Matt Bayliss said in his report to councillors that any bridge was expected to cost at least several hundred thousand dollars and take a minimum of two and a half years to complete.
‘‘The Three Waters reform and proposed transition of Three Waters service delivery to four entities across New Zealand on 1 July, 2024, adds further risk and complication to this option.
‘‘There is a risk the new entities may push back on the council’s plans to construct a dual-purpose bridge and decide to take an alternative approach.
‘‘There is [also] no guarantee the council would be able to obtain the necessary resource consent . . .and there is significant uncertainty regarding Waka Kotahi being a funding partner for the project.’’
Mr Bayliss had presented councillors with the option to focus only on the pipeline, which was needed for Gore to meet the Government’s water quality standards.
However, councillors agreed the decision needed to be left to the community, which Cr Bret Highsted said was the reason the council’s first attempt failed.
Initially proposed in 2018, the council tried to push ahead with a single span cable-stay bridge at Surrey St without public consultation.
This was challenged by the Waimea Plains Preservation Trust and ultimately blocked by the Environment Court after the council had already spent $901,420 on the project, 56% of which was subsidised by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
Cr Neville Phillips said this time, if it had the community’s backing, there was a good chance it would succeed.
‘‘I’m absolutely getting just a little bit annoyed at how long this is taking. The staff are asking us for direction. [Let’s] make a decision today so they can get on with it.
‘‘Let’s build it once and let’s build it for the future.’’