The Kaikoura District Council has put the cart before the horse with its civic building project, Kaikoura electorate MP Colin King says.
The council should listen to ratepayers raising concerns about the project, he said.
Mr King was talking outside the council offices on Friday morning where he helped present a petition opposing the project to Mayor Winston Gray. Councillors Darlene Morgan, Stu Burrows and John Diver were also present to listen to what Mr King and a group of 10 concerned residents had to say.
The petition was organised by physiotherapist John Taggart, who is concerned about the lack of public consultation. Many residents believe they have not had a chance to comment and are concerned the council is determined to go ahead despite the growing opposition.
Mr Taggart began collecting the signatures seven weeks ago. He had 800 by Friday and had since verified them all as being eligible to vote and resident of Kaikoura.
The 800 signatures is 22 per cent of the population of 3621, although that figure from the 2006 census includes under-18s.
The petition called for signatures from anyone who did not feel the public had been adequately consulted over the civic building project.
Mr King said he did not have a view on the project but the number of signatures showed there was a big difference of opinion between the council and the community.
As MP for the region he was concerned the community felt they had not been asked for their opinion and said the council should have put out a business plan.
"We all, as servants of the community, have to listen and what I am hearing today is that there is passion," he said. "If I thought people here were barking up the wrong tree, or barking mad, I would not be here."
Kaikoura farmer Tony Blunt, who has long been vocal about his concerns over the project, said there had been no significant consultation. The community was not aware of the costs and where the money would come from.
Many people were not happy the existing library would be pulled down, yet demolition tender documents had already been sent, he said.
Mr Taggart said he wanted the costings made public for all the options the council had considered.
Some of the residents at the handover on Friday accused the council of being arrogant in the face of financial hardship in the district, with many businesses closing.
Mr Gray rejected the claim of arrogance, saying the council was looking at the long term.
He conceded the council should have included the community more, but he stopped short of promising consultation.
Public meetings on the project would be to tell people what was happening rather than to get their approval, he said.
The petition would be circulated around council members, he said.
The Kaikoura District Council is planning a three-storey building incorporating a museum, a library and council offices.
Estimated cost $4.4 million.
The existing library will be demolished to make way for the new building.
The council maintains adding the third storey is the cheapest option for adding council offices.
The council says ratepayers could have made submissions on the project during the long-term plan process earlier in the year.
- The Marlborough Express