Coastal Pacific Trail working group calls on Marlborough District Council for funds

Coastal pacific trail working group members Alexandra Barton, left, and Cynthia Stoks, have applied for $450,000 from ...
RICKY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Coastal pacific trail working group members Alexandra Barton, left, and Cynthia Stoks, have applied for $450,000 from the Marlborough District Council to start building the trail to Ward.

Building work on an ambitious trail between the Marlborough Sounds and Christchurch could be under way in a matter of months – if the group pushing for the project gets funding.

The Coastal Pacific Trail, a combined walking and cycling route down the scenic east coast, has attracted widespread support since the initiative was proposed in January.

The working group driving the project is asking for $450,000 from the Marlborough District Council, which it applied for through the 2017-18 annual plan process.

Of that, $150,000 was earmarked to hire a project manager and consult with communities along the route, with the remainder going toward the cost of the trail between Blenheim and Ward.

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Working group member Margaret Cooney said they hoped to start designing and building the Ward stretch within the next six months, but it depended on securing council funding.

The overall cost of the section was estimated at $900,000, which like the rest of the proposed trail, the group hoped to source through a mixture of council, Government and other funding.

"I think the council needs to seize this opportunity, and put some money in to getting the trail going. There's a clear economic case for it, and in the scheme of council funding it's not huge," Cooney said.

The success of similar projects, like the Alps 2 Ocean trail between Aoraki/Mount Cook and Oamaru, showed how communities in Marlborough would benefit from the Coastal Pacific Trail, she said.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett previously said groups seeking funding for ideas that would benefit the region should submit on the Long Term Plan, which was out for submission next year.

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Cooney said it was important the council commit to the cycleway idea during this funding round, as it would get the trail up and running and make it more likely other organisations would put forward funds.

She said the group, which was in the process of forming an incorporated trust, had ambitious plans to get the trail completed between the Marlborough Sounds and Christchurch within five years.

Fellow working group member Cynthia Stoks said it was crucial the group had the funds to employ a professional project manager, to co-ordinate their efforts and get the trail built faster.

"We recognise that this is a significant funding request but it has the opportunity to bring in many times that amount and place Marlborough and Kaikoura on the map for multiple tourism activities," she said.

"If funding of that magnitude isn't available for another year that would be contrary to the verbal support that we appear to have been given by councillors and the council."

Councillors would make decisions on submissions to the annual plan at a council meeting on June 12.

As well as their submission, the group also provided statements of support for the trail, including one from former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

"The reconstruction offers a one-off opportunity to put the cycleway in place at minimal cost, and it would be a great leisure and tourism asset," Clark said.

 - The Marlborough Express

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