Today, Feb 11, I went to the Tasman District Council in Richmond to speak in the public forum of a council meeting to ask Councillors to stop, look and listen…before they even begin to spend (waste) money on “consultation “ prior to a proposed sale. In fact, the 3 local councillors did that !
The Mapua and Districts residents’ association has set up a Facebook page so any and all new Zealanders and/or international visitors, can keep up with what is happening and have a voice. To date we have about 1000+ views.
What’s the issue? —stop here if you are short of time and just view the facebook page. Otherwise, read on.
The TDC is about to initiate to a consultation process to sell the mapua causeway – the seabed floor underneath it as well as the roadworks and flood control infrastructure on top of it – to the Mapua Lesiure park . see red line in the picture below
Why? Well the lame answer is that they (TDC corporate affairs division) just want to raise cash for some toilets near the wharf. Duh?
Why not? Lots of reasons – here are a few that shouldn’t be ignored :
- the 2500 sq m seabed strip + capital works known as the causeway (about 300m long by 8 m wide) is itself a marine coastal area inside a massive marine coastal area running from Nelson through to Waimea estuary, Rabbit Island, Ruby Bay, Motueka, Abel Tasman and on to the Farewell Spit . In today’s world “we” – and our democratically elected officials and civil servants – don’t slice and dice little sections of marine coastal strips up and privatise them simply for cash. There are many policy constraints and guidelines about marine coastal areas but here are 3 significant ones are:
- the NZ Coastal Policy Statement – DOCs guide to implementing the RMA in marine coastal areas
- The Parliamentary Commissioner’s Nov 2015 report Preparing New Zealand for rising seas: certainty and uncertainty
- The Marine and Coastal area Act 2011 legislation that replaces and modernizes the previous seabed and foreshore legislation
- that causeway is in fact part of a Mapua’s stormwater and flood control system and the causeway itself functions as a dyke. Check the image below from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on what at-risk land it is protecting currently, and what will have to be protected in the future as sea levels rise gradually. (See my related post on pubic good nature of flood control systems )Remember the Avon Heathcote problem in Christchurch after the earthquakes – upstream flooding increased because the sea is now a lot closer “in” when the seabed floor in the estuary fell)
- the mapua inlet lagoon is itself part of the Waimea estuary, which is designated in our district plan as an ecosystem of national and international importance . These days we don’t let private landowners simply buy a bit of the seabed in an imprtant estuary so they can build roads or seawalls that cut lagoons and estuaries in half (or quarters or..) just so the relevant private landowners can access their properties.
- currently the public has unrestricted vehicle and cycle and pedestrian access across the causeway ; The leisure park management has a 5 year renewable permit to allow it to have its commercial visitors drive or walk across it. . Using the causeway, the public currently has unrestricted access to the lagoon and TDC controlled reserve strips on both sides of the causeway as well as to the beach front along the mapua estuary on the North side up to spring high tide watermark, at any time . The current permit system (widely used for private activities on public lands – eg mountain top ski resorts) is actually working fine and keeps decision making control in the hands of the publiagencies – you the Councillors. Coordinated decision making managed from a public sector viewpoint (ie not for just cash benefit or cost accruing to one single land owner ) may be more valuable in the future for a wide range of purposes – general public access, stormwater and flood control and risk mitigation into Mapua itself, long temr planning for dealing with sea level rise and coastal erosion around the district (which tends to erode seawalls at regular intervals), dealing with emergencies , extending the Great Taste Trail, etc
- coordinated contingency planning and access for extreme events now and in the future – fires, earthquakes, storms, tsunamis of any size (recall April 2010 tsunami water surge in Lyttleton Harbour – Gov Bay jetty was under water – see the youtube clip here, but start off at around 5 minutes in to avoid falling asleep…:-) ) . This is another reason why public ownership of roading and flood control systems is advocated and practised generally – a private sector agent will not undertake costly maintenance and developments just to mitigate risks to others, ditto for coordination efforts. The right amount of investments for risk management and for coordination efforts in a system can be undermined by strategic hold-up issues (one party doesn’t want to do what everyone else thinks makes sense – and has veto power though private ownership) , all of which makes simple easements simplistic, and not credible (easily reneged on and too costly in time and effort to enforce). Public ownership leaves the residual rights of control in the hands of the public , at least indirectly through their “representatives”. The Mapua public and the rest of New Zealand who know Mapua want decent political representation here – don’t throw away what is a valueable coastal marine area asset – valueable on so many dimensions.
The plain fact is that You as Councillors don’t have the necessary sound informational basis to initiate a consultation proposal and We citizens and ratepayers don’t have the information we need to be able to evaluate the proposal.. How can anyone make a sensible decision in a consultation process when they are ill informed?