Bridge importance to be considered

Whether Gore residents actually want a pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Mataura River is a question the next Gore District Council will have to consider.

Chief executive Stephen Parry said his staff had been working on different options since the Environment Court ruled against the construction of a cable-stay bridge in March this year.

Initially, those options were to be put to the public by June for feedback, but council staff thought it best to first establish whether people wanted a bridge.

‘‘We’ve actually thought we need to re-think the whole process. Other things have emerged in recent months — for example, the revelation about the integrity of our stopbanks.

‘‘We need to go and find out what the community wants,’’ Mr Parry said.

A pipeline needs to be built across the Mataura River and there is the opportunity to include a pedestrian and cycle bridge, which would be subsidised by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

‘‘If the community says a walking/cycling facility across the river is not that important, well, that actually eliminates a whole pile of work.’’

Following the local body election, councillors would decide on putting this question to the public, he said.

If there was support for a bridge, the council would be in a position to present ‘‘two or three more concrete, definitive proposals back to the community in the new year’’.

Mr Parry hoped this twophase public consultation process would lead to an outcome the community were happy with.

However, this consultation process would further delay the construction of the pipeline.

In a report tabled at a full council meeting in July, three waters asset manager Matt Bayliss said a planned replacement of the Hilbre Ave reservoir could not go ahead until the pipeline was built.

‘‘It is now anticipated that the Hilbre Ave reservoir will not be replaced prior to the Government’s proposed Three Waters reform transition date of 1 July, 2024.’’

Mr Parry said water projects, including the Hilbre Ave reservoir, were a priority while the council still had control over its water assets.

‘‘We’ve got to get on with it. It’s an important project to get the whole Gore township fully compliant with New Zealand drinking water standards.’’

However, it was not worth rushing ahead with the pipeline when there was an opportunity to create an asset for the community, if that was what residents wanted, he said.

‘‘The loss of six months or so is not going to be fatal.

‘‘Our ambition was to get Gore and Mataura water treatment upgrades completed before Three Waters reform took ultimate control out of our hands and that’s still our plan.’’