Questions asked on cycleway

Last updated 05:00 14/11/2012
cycleway landscape
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Four new sections of the Alps to Ocean cycleway are expected to open in time for the Christmas holidays.

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The Alps-to-Ocean Cycleway is predicted to bring thousands of extra visitors to the Mackenzie district, but the council is still wary of funding a company to run it.

A report by Mackenzie District Council finance manager Paul Morris at yesterday's council meeting argued that an initial business plan for the proposed company to run the 312km cycleway from Aoraki-Mt Cook to Oamaru was short on detail and did not address any potential risks.

Mr Morris questioned the assumptions that the cycleway would generate more than $483,000 in extra accommodation sales after its first year, and a requirement for an extra 12,000 bed nights in the Mackenzie and Waitaki districts in five years.

Councillor Peter Maxwell said the report seemed overly negative.

"I understand we need to be wary about putting money into the company, but surely we should work to find this extra accommodation," he said.

"When Queenstown heard about the Shotover Jet, they didn't worry about the increased capacity required, they went ahead and found it."

Mr Morris said he was only highlighting potential concerns.

"The business plan needs further due diligence, but before that we need to actually be involved in the discussion with Waitaki District Council," he said.

Cr Annette Money is on the joint steering committee for the cycleway, but the council is not represented on either the business or project committees.

Yesterday, the councillors agreed that Cr Maxwell and Mr Morris should join the business committee, while community facilities manager Garth Nixon should join the project committee. New council chief executive Wayne Barnett also asked to contribute.

The Government has pledged $2.75 million towards the cycle trail, but so far Mackenzie has agreed to fund only $125,000 of maintenance over the next three years.

In contrast, Waitaki has indicated it would spend more than $384,000 on the trail over the next two years, with about one-third of that going towards marketing.

Deputy mayor Graham Smith said both councils should pay for their share.

Mayor Claire Barlow said both councils needed to share some responsibilities as part of the original agreement: "We will wait for more information on the business plan . . . but the cycleway itself is looking very exciting," she said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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