The power of col­lab­o­ra­tion

Kapiti Observer - - OUT & ABOUT -

With the open­ing of the MacK­ays to Peka Peka Ex­press­way, the Kapiti dis­trict will fi­nally have a much needed sec­ond north-south con­nec­tion. But it hasn’t all been plain sail­ing.

For more than 50 years, a sec­ond north-south road that would re­lieve the pres­sure on State High­way 1 and con­nect the com­mu­ni­ties within the dis­trict had been on the books.

In 2009, the NZ Trans­port Agency an­nounced it in­tended build­ing the MacK­ays to Peka Peka Ex­press­way, gen­er­ally fol­low­ing the des­ig­na­tion for the just con­sented Kapiti Coast Dis­trict’s West­ern Link Road.

Sev­er­ing a num­ber of com­mu­ni­ties on the coast – Waikanae, Para­pa­raumu and Rau­mati – the pro­posed ex­press­way would have a ma­jor im­pact on the dis­trict.

Emo­tions ran high in the Kapiti com­mu­nity – some peo­ple op­posed the pro­posed route of the ex­press­way while oth­ers were sup­port­ive. There were more than 700 sub­mis­sions on the pro­posal to the Board of In­quiry, fol­lowed by three months of hear­ings.

While the Kapiti Coast Dis­trict Coun­cil was ini­tially in the op­po­si­tion camp, the big ques­tion was do we con­tinue to be an ad­ver­sary and oppose the ex­press­way or sup­port it and work with cen­tral gov­ern­ment to gain as many pos­i­tive out­comes for the dis­trict as pos­si­ble?

Had we con­tin­ued to oppose the ex­press­way and won, it would have been a pyrrhic vic­tory.

A lack of a sec­ond north-south route was chok­ing SH1, ad­versely af­fect­ing the qual­ity of life in our dis­trict and con­strain­ing eco­nomic growth. Also, while there was un­cer­tainty, devel­op­ers were re­luc­tant to build much needed ad­di­tional east-west con­nec­tions.

Shortly af­ter the an­nounce­ment was made, the Trans­port Agency in­vited the coun­cil to join the MacK­ays to Peka Peka Ex­press­way Al­liance – a pri­vate sec­tor con­sor­tium set-up to de­sign and build the $630 mil­lion Ex­press­way.

Join­ing the Al­liance, we be­lieved, gave the coun­cil the best op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide cer­tainty for our com­mu­nity and re­alise po­ten­tial ben­e­fits as well as min­imis­ing the im­pacts. How­ever, we made it clear to the Trans­port Agency that our sup­port for the ex­press­way was con­di­tional upon be­ing able to ad­vo­cate for and pro­tect the com­mu­nity’s in­ter­ests.

Seven years af­ter the NZ Trans­port Agency con­sulted on route op­tions for the MacK­ays to Peka Peka Ex­press­way, the pro­ject is near com­ple­tion.

Are we sat­is­fied we did the right thing by join­ing the Al­liance? Are we sat­is­fied we’ve looked af­ter the com­mu­nity’s in­ter­ests? Yes.

Through ef­fort and care­ful ne­go­ti­a­tion, our coun­cil has worked col­lab­o­ra­tively and in part­ner­ship with the Al­liance to pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant so­cial, eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits for the Kapiti Coast com­mu­nity.

That’s not to say it hasn’t been a con­tentious pro­ject with, for ex­am­ple, more than 100 res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties pur­chased to en­able ex­press­way con­struc­tion.

But every­one was com­mit­ted to en­gag­ing with our com­mu­nity, do­ing a high-qual­ity job and de­liv­er­ing a pro­ject the com­mu­nity would be proud of. This has been an ex­am­ple of cen­tral and lo­cal gov­ern­ment col­lab­o­ra­tion at its best.

A pro­ject that started in an ad­ver­sar­ial cli­mate is fin­ish­ing with a strong de­gree of com­mu­nity buy-in and a much needed sec­ond north-south con­nec­tion for the dis­trict.

By Pat Dougherty, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Kapiti Coast Dis­trict Coun­cil.

PHOTO: JOEL MAXWELL/FAIR­FAX NZ

Trans­port min­is­ter Si­mon Bridges at the of­fi­cial com­ple­tion cer­e­mony for the Mack­ays to Peka Peka sec­tion of the Kapiti ex­press­way.

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