On the Waikawa Beach Facebook page Pat OSullivan writes:
On behalf of the WBRA an interim update on the beach vehicle access issue.
An onsite meeting was held yesterday [13 December 2023] with HDC and Horizons in relation to the beach access and the current state of the river in terms of e-coli counts etc. Two principal topics were discussed, the current inability of vehicles to access the beach and the possible health risks to persons swimming or boating in the river. Two main requests were presented. That arrangements for a temporary solution to the vehicle access be made with the landowners whilst a longer-term solution is worked on (lease of land etc.) and that an urgent river cut be done to allow the river to flush and clean itself before the height of the summer season.
The outcome was as follows: The landowners have apparently agreed to the establishment of a temporary access provided the work is undertaken by HDC and not by anyone else. HDC has agreed to this but will require a resource consent before any work can be done. For anyone who has applied for a resource consent you will know this is not a rapid process so it isn’t going to happen tomorrow. The bad news aspect to that is that there is unlikely to be any work done in the immediate term.
The promised public consultation process in regard to a longer- term solution to the vehicle access situation will commence on 20 December 2023 and will be done by mail.
With regard to a possible river cut the outcome was less clear. There is a possibility it could be done but would have to be funded by HDC. Whether there is any funding available is not clear at this stage so 50/50 at best. So don’t hold your breath, or if you want to risk swimming in the river do hold your breath.
We will make a further post once a formal response is received from HDC. It may vary slightly from the above but this is posted for information at this stage.
Update, 16 December 2023 — a response on Facebook from Horowhenua District Council:
Thank you Pat and the WBRA for advocating for and keeping the community updated in your previous post. Just one point to clarify though - Council will not be pursuing any work related to a temporary beach access ahead of the community consultation.
We acknowledge that there are a lot of conversations and feelings within the community regarding the establishment of temporary vehicle access at Waikawa Beach. We are also aware, that this is a delicate situation and there are segments of the community that oppose providing vehicle access to the beach.
Recently, council resolved to consult with the Waikawa Community on options to establish a permanent access way to the beach, with the three options being, to re-establish the existing access way, re-establish the existing access way and include river training (this means using different structures constructed for stabilising a river channel), and not providing access to the beach. We anticipate distributing the consultation material to the community next week, and as it’s over the holiday period will extend the consultation period to allow more time for everyone to submit.
We want to make informed decisions that reflect the preferences and concerns of our community, its important that we carry out the consultation before we undertake any work, temporary or otherwise. It is also important that we follow the correct process including applying for the relevant consents that are required before we do any work. The direction provided by Council is to consult with the community on a permanent vehicular beach access, and that is our intent. Horowhenua District Council will not be pursuing any work related to a temporary beach access.
We realise that this news is not what some will want to hear. The best way for the community to voice your concerns and have your say, is via the consultation material that will be out to the community on the 20th December. Your input is important, and we encourage you to share your views.