Cy­cle trail ‘big­gest ben­e­fit’ from quake

Kaikoura Star - - OUT & ABOUT - MONIQUE STEELE

A pro­posed cy­cle trail from Pic­ton to Kaiko¯ura could pump more than $100 mil­lion into the Marl­bor­ough econ­omy over the next 20 years, a new fea­si­bil­ity study says.

The study, com­mis­sioned by the Marl­bor­ough District Coun­cil, in­cludes mea­sured ben­e­fits of the trail and also maps out a way for­ward in terms of who would take own­er­ship of the trail’s de­vel­op­ment.

The re­port, re­leased this week, es­ti­mates the track would cost less than $9m to build, but could claw back at least $70m, but pos­si­bly up to $130m, over 20 years.

Marl­bor­ough Mayor John Leggett said the trail could be the ‘‘sin­gle big­gest ben­e­fit’’ for the re­gion fol­low­ing the Kaiko¯ura earth­quake.

‘‘From a dif­fi­cult and trau­matic event, it is fan­tas­tic to see a vi­sion­ary idea come to fruition, with such wide sup­port from the com­mu­nity,’’ Leggett said.

‘‘Over­all, the re­port is very pos­i­tive. The trail could de­liver a much-needed eco­nomic boost to the east coast of Marl­bor­ough, bring­ing new vis­i­tors and job op­por­tu­ni­ties to our re­gion.’’

The Marl­bor­ough sec­tions of­fer­ing the great­est po­ten­tial in the medium term were Blen­heim to Sed­don and Sed­don to Ward.

While the over­all cap­i­tal cost was es­ti­mated at $8.95m, ap­prox­i­mately $5.76m of that re­lated to the Marl­bor­ough sec­tion of the trail. On­go­ing main­te­nance on the trail was es­ti­mated at $150,000 a year.

‘‘It’s likely that parts of the trail can open, piece by piece, be­fore the whole thing is com­plete,’’ Leggett said.

‘‘It’s a bit of a jig­saw that will need a great deal of co-or­di­na­tion be­tween dif­fer­ent par­ties to achieve its ul­ti­mate goal.

‘‘I’m con­fi­dent that the many agen­cies and in­di­vid­u­als in­volved can work to­gether to achieve it, and it will be­come a great ad­di­tion to the Marl­bor­ough and Kaiko¯ura tourism in­dus­tries.’’

There was still a long road ahead with fund­ing and in­fra­struc­ture chal­lenges at the fore­front, but th­ese were ‘‘not in­sur­mount­able’’, Leggett said.

The idea was first floated by well-known wine in­dus­try fig­ure Dr John For­rest in Jan­uary.

For­rest, who be­came chair­man of the Coastal Pa­cific Trail work­ing group, said the re­port en­dorsed the group’s think­ing as to the strengths and ben­e­fits of the project.

He agreed fund­ing re­mained the main chal­lenge, along­side de­vel­op­ing the re­la­tion­ships be­tween trail stake­hold­ers.

A piggy bank of do­na­tions and coun­cil grants was grow­ing, which For­rest said were in­vest­ments to get the ball rolling.

He said the group’s next step was find­ing a project man­ager to lead the large-scale project which in­volved Ki­wiRail, district coun­cils, the New Zealand Trans­port Agency and pri­vate landown­ers from Marl­bor­ough to Christchurch.

‘‘The next six months will be spent plan­ning the in­fra­struc­ture and bones of the fund­ing.

‘‘We hope to be con­struct­ing at the be­gin­ning of next year,’’ For­rest said.

The study said be­tween 18,000 and 35,000 peo­ple could be ex­pected to use the trail each year, creat­ing be­tween 45 and 88 jobs in ac­com­mo­da­tion, food and bev­er­age, re­tail and recre­ation ser­vices once the trail was op­er­a­tional.

It also rec­om­mended chang­ing the name of the trail to avoid con­fu­sion with a Ki­wiRail jour­ney of the same name.


Coastal Pa­cific Trail work­ing group’s John For­rest, left, Paul Wilson, Janet Mackay.

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