“Councillors should be asking questions about the delays to the Gateway project consent process for reassurance that the entire project agreed to by council is consentable,” says Kāpiti Districtwide Cr Jackie Elliott.
“The design and consenting process which started in April this year remains incomplete with consent only granted for initial stream works and the Gateway project start timeline already rescheduled twice in the past two years.
“This is by no means a criticism of those undertaking the process and as an R.M.A. Commissioner I completely understand the complexities of it. However we have been contacted by the public many times, and rumours persist that income generating activities proposed in the original business plan are now changed, deferred or removed,” says Cr Elliott.
She says recent press releases from the council tell a different story. “But this would affect the viability of the project and a diligent council with an eye on the process would be requesting an updated report back on the consenting. Importantly if the project is changed, it would give councillors grounds to revoke the decision to proceed with the project if the business case is no longer relevant.
“During the Long Term Plan, being our time to plan and prioritise, I tried in all public workshops to initiate conversation with my colleagues about reprioritising the much delayed Gateway project. My main reason being cost alongside all the other projects they were pushing, and the case for the timing of it which was not supported in the ‘long COVID affected’ onshore and offshore economic environment. The Chairperson of the AirNZ Board for instance forecast another five years before tourism returns to anything like normal levels.”
Cr Elliott says she received zero support for this conversation with comments from fellow councillors being, ‘the Gateway is ‘a fait accompli, there is nothing we can do about it.’ And citing wanting to wait for an independent review of the Gateway process, which is technically different to a report on the Gateway, but reasonable, given we were having this conversation in May and we expected delivery of the report in June. She says the report has since been delayed twice.
“Having more recently asked the Mayor and chief executive for updated details on the project and garnered no response, I approached and asked the four councillors who originally opposed the project to act as co-signatories to a resolution to go onto the agenda of a council meeting to consider revoking the decision. This opportunity was lost when the three of the four councillors asked, opposed this action once again citing wanting to wait for the independent process report, then overdue its 1st of August release date, but now delayed again.
“Councillors do have the provisions to bring resolutions to agendas. Councillors can decide to revoke or change previous decisions, and ample opportunity has been given to those who still publicly say they are opposed to the project, to act on behalf of the public they represent and start asking questions.” says Cr Elliott.
“I made another request just last week, under urgency, this time for their support in getting a resolution on the table for council to request a report back on the consenting process. This request was also denied or ignored, by the same four councillors. “Meanwhile the Gateway juggernaut has rolled on, with no appreciation of any urgency or recognition by councillors that we can legitimately ask for reports so I am being transparent and going public out of concern at the lack of fundamental understanding of council processes and willingness to apply diligence,” says Cr Elliott.