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Community meeting summary – 5 August 2023

Kia ora everyone,

Waikato District Council staff were joined by Mayor Jacqui Church and Deputy Mayor Carolyn Eyre to talk erosion, managed retreat and service delivery projects with around 50 people in Port Waikato on Saturday 5 August.

What follows is a run-down on the community meeting for those who could not be there. A copy of presentation slides is available at the bottom of this web page.

Erosion update

Jim Ebenhoh presented slides covering various aspects (You can find a copy of presentation slides here).

A Q&A session followed, which included:

An Ocean View Rd resident asked for clarity on what support there is for property owners during managed retreat. She expressed frustration that in her opinion there are words but no action.

Jim Ebenhoh responded and explained that it has been a learning process for Council, and that there are other considerations under the Building Act that add complications.

Mayor Jacqui emphasised that there are some answers Council doesn’t know yet. She acknowledged the need to improve communication and stated that staff are doing great work and now have more information on climate change. She explained that central government will be providing a Climate Adaptation Act which will provide more direction and support for communities.

A resident stated that erosion has been going on for years. She explained that at the first community meeting at the old hall, Council had promised help for those needing to relocate dwellings, but there has been no support.

The Deputy Mayor explained that Council is seeking to widen representation on the Port Waikato Resilience Group.

A community member questioned how there could be managed retreat when it takes 1+ years to get a building consent, and claimed it is too long and the house will be gone by then.

Jim acknowledged the comments and agreed that ideally consents for relocation would be easier and faster than they have been to date. He explained that a trigger point needs to be identified and then plan to move houses further back or to another location. He noted that Council is waiting for legislation and assistance from central government.

The Mayor explained that she is having conversations at a ministerial level on solutions.

Another community member asked if blanket consent could be given for houses teetering on the edge, to allow them to quickly respond and not necessarily follow the normal process.

Jim noted that while blanket consent can be great for things like sand push-ups, it is more difficult for things like buildings because each is unique.

WDC Projects:

Beach access

  • Glyn Morgan summarised that the west coast is a dynamic beach environment, and he wants a cohesive approach that does not waste ratepayers’ money. He also acknowledged the need for it to be sustainable, culturally appropriate, and primarily provide the access required for Surf Life Saving.
  • The focus is on minor scheduled maintenance to occur on the current accessway until alternative access can be provided at another location.

Beach car park

  • Glyn explained the need to provide a minimum of 17 carparks for the Community Hub to meet resource consent requirements. He expressed concern for traffic flow and the loading on the edge where erosion is occurring. He discussed a number of options that Council is investigating in conjunction with the other projects.
  • A community member asked whether “disabled parking” will be provided when new line marking is completed. Glyn confirmed it would be and that traffic bylaws need to be complied with.
  • Another community member queried why it took three weeks for a barrier to be put up to block access to the ramp when it washed out. Glyn stated that he believed a barrier had been placed and acknowledged the need to keep the public safe. He also noted that a hard / concrete structure is not recommended as it would increase erosion.
  • Several community members expressed frustration at reporting issues to Council previously and it not being responded to. The Mayor explained that there is a review of the systems being undertaken to see where it is breaking down.
  • Several community members praised Council for the newly opened playground.

Beach Toilets

  • Moyra Coutts presented slides to explain that Council is investigating two options, and that only contained wastewater solutions would be used. She outlined the strengths and weaknesses of each option, the first being to refurbish the existing cinder block toilets, and the second to install the relocatable toilets from Ngarunui beach to the site. She asked attendees to indicate on the sheet being circulated which option they prefer. The vast majority (28 to 5) preferred the refurbishment option.
  • A member of the community asked how much it costs and how it would get paid. Moyra responded saying there was already funds allocated for the work, that the relocated toilets are estimated to cost approximately $40,000 more than the refurbishment of the existing toilets.
  • A member of the community asked if the toilets would include a wheelchair- accessible toilet, to which Moyra responded “yes”.
  • A member of the community asked about the expected timeframe, as Labour weekend had been mentioned. Moyra explained that the aim was for it to be completed by then, and that the first option to refurbish is expected to be completed earlier than the relocated toilet block option.
  • A member of the community asked if the community chose the cheaper first option, could the Council put the funds towards the beach push-ups. Moyra stated that it was a good question that we do not have an answer for at this stage.
  • Since the meeting Council’s Infrastructure Committee has approved the progression of refurbishing the current toilet block.
  • Glynn outlined the planning for other assets and projects in the community and raised the desire to work with the community rather than seeing ad-hoc structures like the “shed” that recently appeared on the Council reserve.

Stormwater issues

Mathew Telfer from Watercare provided an overview of scheduled maintenance and explained the need to also consider weather when planning works. He presented slides highlighting issues in the four areas that Watercare is currently working to address.

Mathew explained that while the network has operated normally over the last few months since the heavy rain event. The team are focused on improvements to continue to ensure small to medium events do not impact on the community.

Several members of the community raised concerns over silt build-up in the drains. One resident reported silt being dug out with spades and left on the side of the drain only to be washed back in. Another spoke of a digger and drain undermining their water tanks. Another spoke of “easements” at the front of hillside properties that had been filled in and caused flooding on adjacent properties. Another raised concern over the maintenance of a bridge.

Mathew noted the concerns and visited the properties directly after the meeting and identified actions with the Watercare team. He encouraged the community to send requests through the Council service request system/call centre or escalate to their community representatives who have his number if they do not get action.