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Community board focuses on flooding problems

June 15th, 2016
[by David Armstrong]

The recent series of flood events in Motueka and Riwaka was the main item of business at yesterday's Community Board meeting.

During the open public forum which precedes the formal meeting, the packed Council meeting room heard from nine residents who had been significantly affected by the two major floods.

The main plea from all was to know when Council would do something about alleviating a problem which is bound to get worse in future years.

They spoke of a wastewater system unable to cope, spilling sewage into the stormwater and then into people's houses and garages.

Two residents spoke of conversations they were having with insurance companies to the effect that they may have one more such event up their sleeves before they will no longer be covered.

Later as part of the meeting agenda, board members discussed these concerns and provided some evidence of their own as to the extent and seriousness of flooding they had seen and potential causes.

The proper working of the Old Wharf Road floodgates was again questioned, with reports that new sensors installed to detect tide levels had not worked properly, which led to the gates having to be manually raised.

Board member David Ogilvie suggested that the gates should be mainly open and only closed when necessary, rather than the present system of being mainly closed but opened when necessary.

Councillor Barry Dowler said that this would allow salt water into the Woodlands canal which would kill the greenery on the canal banks, but if that was what people wanted then mainly-open floodgates could be considered.

He said that a longer term solution was being planned, for a new $3.5m drainage system from the West Motueka development through to Monahan Street, but this was a way off yet.

The big question puzzling everyone is what has changed in the present drainage system and ground levels in the area most affected by the recent floods, around High Street between Lowe Street and Sanderlane Drive.

As board member Richard Horrell pointed out, there have never been such bad flooding events in that area until recently, so something must have either changed levels or drainage pathways been blocked or altered.

In the end, the Community Board decided to arrange an urgent meeting with council engineers to present all the evidence they have gained in recent weeks and hear what the engineers had found, and then a follow-up meeting between council engineers and any affected residents to discuss possible mitigation.

The problems in Riwaka were of a different nature, they agreed, because water appear to be coming off private land and orchards and causing problems in areas that are council-controlled.

Special projects fund
The board agreed to meet on Wednesday, June 22nd to discuss and confirm the criteria that they would use to decide which community project ideas could be funded in future through the "special projects" fund gathered from the $10 per year targeted rate.

They will then look at projects which have been proposed and decide on the final list for the 2016/17 year.

Discretionary funds
The board also addressed five applications for board discretionary funds. Only one - from the Recreation Centre for assistance to travel to Rotorua to promote Motueka as the venue for the National Darts Championship in 2017 - was deferred until the next meeting to allow some questions to be answered.

Successful applicants were:

  • Riding for the Disabled: $450 to register their manager as a coach and gain the required first aid certificate.
  • Motueka Kai Fest: $322 to produce professional information packs about the 2017 harvest celebration event, to be distributed to schools, businesses, restaurants and community groups.
  • Special Olympics: $495 to hire the Recreation Centre indoor rink for 11 weeks for ongoing indoor bowls training sessions.
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters: $500 to help provide services in Motueka to recruit, train and support mentors for children and young people.

Editor's comment
One further comment arising from yesterday's meeting. As with two other such meetings this year, there was standing room only in the uncomfortable and crammed conditions of the Council meeting room in Hickmott Place.

This only reinforces both the embarrassment that a town of the size does not have decent facilities for civic meetings, and the need for better meeting facilities in a community hub.


Comment by David Ogilvie:
[Posted 20 June 2016]

Your editor's comment at the end of this report is timely. I hope Mayor, Councillors and CEO read it. It can be embarrassing when we have large numbers attending, but the meeting table is "cheap and nasty", and the resources (technology) for presentations are very limited. This not only applies to the Board's meetings but other meetings as well. Sometimes, it reminds me of a 1970's class-room.

The office, especially the public area, is frequently cramped, and the display of Council brochures is uninviting.The available table is covered with Agendas, Council minutes, driver licence materials, AA notices etc. all of which are necessary but should be displayed more appropriately for customers to access. Are we looking to the Libary/Council Chambers hub before there is any improvement?

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