Waimate asked to join push for new cycle trail

AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 23/02/2013
alps 2 ocean
SUPPLIED/ Hamish Seaton and Thunes Cloete
INVESTIGATION: A proposal has been tabled to develop 30 kilometres of existing and new track along the north bank of Lake Waitaki between Aviemore Dam and Kurow.

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Waimate has been called on to join forces with Waitaki and Mackenzie in a plan to move the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail ahead.

While several sections of the trail officially opened at the weekend, the committee has launched a campaign to get the Waimate District Council on board.

Alps 2 Ocean chairman Mike Neilson and Waitaki District Council community group manager Thunes Cloete presented their case before the council at a meeting yesterday.

The plan would see around 30 kilometres of existing and new track developed along the north bank of Lake Waitaki between Aviemore Dam and Kurow.

The Government has given the project $2.75 million, of which $2m has already been spent.

Mr Neilson said it was their intention to set up a business entity that would further market the trail.

Waitaki and Mackenzie already have a stake in the project and it was suggested that Waimate would come in with a percentage share.

Mr Cloete said initial studies had been done with the existing track requiring gravel and wooden structures.

The question was how the track would be maintained to a good level.

"What we want to get today is your buy-in; we will be talking with your planners," he told Waimate councillors.

Waimate Mayor John Coles admitted he was nervous about the proposal.

"We'd like to think our side of the river benefits from it; what will it cost us?"

Mr Cloete said the groups were proposing a business, a 50/50 split between Mackenzie and Waitaki councils.

"As we go down the track we could talk about a three-way partnership."

He said the development would create opportunities in terms of income to help with track maintenance.

Mr Neilson added: "When we look at it roughly, Waimate would have about a 10 per cent stake which would reflect the number of cyclists using the trail.

"The objective of the business is to create a return; the whole purpose of this is to create business for tour operators in our district."

Mr Coles said he was enthusiastic about the proposal.

"Today is about concept; obviously there will be more detailed work in the future, although I'm a bit nervous about costs," Mr Coles said.

"They've got to come back to us, the ball is in their court."

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- The Timaru Herald

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