Saturday, July 13, 2024

Vehicle ban extension proposed for Waimārama Beach

Hastings District Council is proposing to extend a vehicle ban on Waimārama Beach.

The Council says the ban area would be extended from the current zone (from the southern rocks to the front of Waimārama Domain) to a point about 1.7km north of the domain.

“The proposed resolution under the bylaw comes about after Council engaged extensively with the community around safety concerns posed by vehicles on the beach raised by residents and police late last year,” Council said in a statement.

Informal consultation with communities attracted 1,300 items of feedback for Council to consider. Public safety was a key concern, as well as a desire to retain recreational opportunities, protect the environment, maintain access, and cultural considerations.

After considering this feedback Council presented the community with four options: retaining the status quo (vehicles banned in an area in front of the surf club from 8am and 8pm from Labour Weekend through to April 30); extending the current ban to the full year; extending the ban area to Tiakitai Road for the full year; or extending the ban area to the northern part of the beach for the full year.

“The responses to that consultation were weighed up against the views of groups such as mana whenua, environmental groups, and recreational fishers,” Council said.

Council says other considerations included the practicality of enforcement by Police, ecological protection, installing additional signage, and the impact of any access closures on other areas where people could still get access.

“Analysis of all the feedback showed there was a wide range of views; among Waimārama
respondents 60% sought an extension to the current ban in some form, while 40% favoured retaining the status quo.”

The wider community feedback was similar, with 54% of respondents also seeking change under the bylaw.

“With this decision we believe we are putting the safety of beach users first and giving more protection to the environment, but leaving access areas for those who use vehicles for recreational activities,” said Hastings Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst.

“These issues have been building up over a number of years, and the intention of this proposal is to find a middle ground to satisfy all users.”

The proposed resolution would extend the ban the length of the beach apart from two vehicle access areas for permitted activities – a 400m strip at the Tiakitai Rd access point and a 350m strip between the two boat ramps at Paparewa Reserve. This would apply year-round.

If enacted, Council would install new signs at the main entrances to the beach and roll out
awareness campaigns to help people understand the rules.

The proposal will now be put out for formal community consultation. The submission period will run from 13 July to 5pm on 28 July.

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