OPINION: The Around the Mountain Cycle Trail represents an economic and social boost for Southland that we could not achieve on our own.
The $4 million of Government funding represents a 1:1 subsidy into what is an $8m investment.
This placed us in something of a dilemma. Do we shelve the project and miss out on $4m of Government funding, or do we proceed carefully, spending their money wisely, accepting that ultimately the council may be required to fund the shortfall?
We chose the latter as the most prudent option.
I realise that many of our ratepayers are concerned that some of the cycleway costs may fall on them.
I can assure those people that every effort is being made to source outside funding and sponsorship.
Ultimately, it will be a council decision as to how any shortfall will be funded and by whom.
I hear it said that it is only the people of northern Southland who will benefit from the trail.
The AMCT will provide a ''spine'' from which other trails will radiate.
Southland communities will be able to tap into the extra visitors that the cycleway attracts. Just as we are ''piggy backing'' off Queenstown, the rest of Southland will leverage off the AMCT.
Although I am a keen cyclist, I will not let that enthusiasm cloud my judgment when making a decision over funding the trail.
The Government in partnership with SDC has provided us with a unique opportunity to showcase Southland to New Zealand and the world.
Lets make the most of it.
CR JOHN DOUGLAS
Southland District Council
Cr Douglas is a candidate for the Southland District mayoralty - Editor
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