Boats parade down Dargaville's main street over proposed boating ban at Kai Iwi Lakes
More than 50 boats were towed through the main street of Dargaville in protest against a proposal by the Kaipara District Council to ban all powercraft from the Kai Iwi Lakes.
Organised by the Friends of the Kai Iwi Lakes, a working group formed in late December in response to the release of the council's draft management plan for the lakes, the group hopes last Tuesday's parade will raise awareness in the wider community and encourage people to make submissions on the plan.
The draft plan proposes all powercraft be banned from all three lakes in the Taharoa Domain by 2018. Public safety and environmental issues are the reasons given by the council for the recommendation.
Currently powerboats are allowed on the lakes but must not exceed five knots within 200 metres of a shoreline.
The protest group also has concerns about the closure of Promenade Point campground, extensive development and expansion of the Pine Beach campground and discontinuing the release of trout fingerlings.
The group currently has more than 3500 Facebook members.
"We [the group] are appalled the council has not considered the economic impact on the district," says spokesperson Rob Stevenson.
"We care about protecting the lakes too, but believe there is a lack of robust information and evidence to support what is planned."
To alleviate some of the issues the group propose several compromises, such as delegated areas for swimmers and boats and paying a levy to have their boats checked before launching at the lakes.
"No one wants to harm the lakes - why would we harm something that means so much to us and is also vital to this district's economy," Stevenson says.
He and a number of business owners expressed concerns the banning of boats from the lakes would see a fall off in holidaymakers to the district and in turn lead to a downturn in the money being spent in the area.
Chairman of the Kaipara commissioners John Robertson agrees people should be taking an interest in the draft plan's proposals and urges them to make their views known to the council. " Nothing is set in concrete, we have an open mind on the plan and are prepared to take into account the views of all submitters," he says.
Submissions are open until March 22.