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Vehicle ban extension proposed for Waimārama Beach

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Hastings District Council is proposing extending the vehicle ban on Waimārama Beach.

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.

Informal consultation with communities attracted 1300 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.

Other considerations for Council were 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 per cent sought an extension to the current ban in some form, while 40 per cent favoured retaining the status quo.

The wider community feedback was similar, with 54 per cent 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. People can go to www.myvoicemychoice.co.nz to give their feedback, or can collect hard copies of the information from the Customer Service Centre at Hastings District Council, 207 Lyndon Rd East, Hastings, the Waimārama Store, or from the Hastings, Havelock North or Flaxmere libraries.

The submission period runs from July 13 to 5pm, July 28, 2024.

9 July 2024

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