Kaikoura's $23m pool, civic building blowout puts unfair pressure on farmers

Monday 18 June 2012, 2:51PM
By Federated Farmers of New Zealand


In its submission on the Kaikoura District Council’s (KDC) long term plan, Federated Farmers has opposed plans for an aquatic centre, costed between $14.4 and $18.7m over the next two years, and a $4.4m civic office complex. Farmers will again be expected to foot the majority of the bill.

“With the districts’ rural properties in line for huge rate increases, between 16 percent and 26 percent, Federated Farmers is absolutely opposed to the rural rate rises associated with the aquatic centre and civic office complex proposals,” Federate Farmers North Canterbury provincial Vice President Dugald McLean says.

“These planned buildings seem very extravagant at a time when the government is scrutinising local body expenditure. Farmers may seem like a convenient funding source to councils, but many of us already pay over $10,000 a year in rates. The proposed rate rises to cover these costs could be an unnecessary and crushing burden, at a time when the world economy could tip back into recession, drastically lowering the returns at the farm gate.

“Not only that, the council also does not seem to have done its homework. The design for the civic centre involves demolishing a relatively new and perfectly good library building for a three storey complex incorporating council offices with a museum and library. However, it does not include nearly enough car parking for either museum or library visitors, or other council users. Without adequate parking the museum has no hope of attracting the 15,000 visitors projected by KDC.

“Why would tourists walk for ages to then pay a $10-15 entry fee, when they probably will have been to world class facilities at Te Papa or the Canterbury Museum for free?

“The visitor projections for the new pool are wildly optimistic at 1000 visitors a day, every day of the year. Frankly, I don’t buy it. I also doubt the banks, which would be approached to lend the money for the project, would either. With Hamner Springs just up the road, the Federation and I say outside visitors would be rare and the local population is not big enough to base this figure on.

“We also do not believe KDC has done its sums properly. Council reports and the Long Term Plan have some very different prices for constructing the pool.

“It should also be remembered the planned timeframe for these projects directly coincides with the beginning of the Christchurch rebuild, which is bound to drive up the cost of materials and labour. This does not seem to have been factored into KDC’s calculations.

“Instead of splashing out on these projects, Federated Farmers is asking KDC to stick to core infrastructure and explore lower cost options for a new council building.

“There is plenty of work for the council to do which does not require these overwhelming rate rises for its rural constituents,” concluded Mr McLean.