Council at Odds with Its Own Rangiora Board over Millton Reserve

This week the Waimakariri District Council consented to the Department of Conservation changing the classification of a piece of land at the corner of River Road and Cones Road, Rangiora from Recreation Reserve to Government Purposes Reserve.  This will allow DoC to build an office and depot on this site.

The above was a process under the Reserves Act.  DoC had previously obtained resource consent under the Resource Management Act.  Questions on whether the community should give up a piece of reserve for an office could not be considered under this latter Act.

The Rangiora Ward Advisory Board and many locals have been strongly opposed to this change of status, but the Council, in making its decision, barely acknowledged the Board’s views.  By a vote of 5 to 3, they consented to a change of status.  The three opponents were Mayor Ron Keating, Roger Blair and me.  Elaine Cole and Sandra Stewart were absent and Kevin Felstead declared a conflict of interest and took no part in the discussion or decision.

The Rangiora Ward Advisory Board has been appointed by the Council to advise it on matters pertaining to Rangiora and is seen as the voice of the Rangiora community.  For the Council to ignore a Ward Advisory Board on a matter that involves no expenditure is highly unusual, possibly unprecedented.

The piece of land is part of a triangle bounded by River Road, Cones Road and Millton Avenue and is known as the Millton Memorial Reserve.  It is Crown Land and was originally vested in the Rangiora Borough Council.  It has never been developed for recreation for two main reasons: (1) uncertainties around the roading in the area associated with the approaches to the Ashley Bridge, and (2) it’s former distance from Rangiora – now no longer the case.

Many locals see a tremendous potential for this reserve.  It links Rangiora with the Ashley Picnic ground and the Ashley River itself, long a favourite Rangiora playground  and also an area of great potential.  ECan is currently considering proposals to develop a River Park there.

While putting the DoC building there will not destroy the potential of the reserve, it is the view of many that it seriously compromises it.  One can only hope that the Council has not set a precedent for other government departments to move in on classified recreational reserves in this way.



2 Responses to “Council at Odds with Its Own Rangiora Board over Millton Reserve”

  1. Andrea Summerfield Says:

    Although I can understand your reasoning behind wishing to leave the Milton Reserve’s status unchanged, I would like to make the following comments.

    1. I believe that in living directly across the road from the proposed DOC office we would in fact be classed as directly affected locals.

    2. At no stage during your opposition of the reclassification of this small area of reserve did anyone from your Advisory Board have the courtesy to contact us and ask how we felt about it.

    3. The only contact we have had from anyone involved in the matter was from two DOC officers, who made the effort to call on us in person at our home on two separate occasions and were more than happy to answer any questions we had.

    I feel that as a representative who says he is acting in the interests of the community and affected locals, you should have made the effort to find out what those affected actually think about the matter before automatically assuming that everyone shares your own personal opinion on the subject.

  2. David Ayers Says:

    Thanks Andrea.
    There have been two parts to the process, The first, which I suspect occasioned DoC’s visits, was when DoC were applying for a resource consent to construct a building. This was necessary because the site is zoned Rural and is over the road from a Residential 4 zone, which is supposed to have a rural outlook. This is a process under the Resource Management Act (RMA) and under this the interests of near neighbours are certainly important.
    Having got a resource consent, they have embarked on the second stage, which is to change the reserve classification under the Reserves Act. The reserve was originally vested in the Rangiora Borough Council (in effect, the people of Rangiora) even though neither the land in question nor River Road was in the Borough. (The Borough Boundary was south of where Kingsbury Avenue now is.) As a reserve, it “belongs” to the people of the entire Waimakariri District and they have the same interest in the reserve classification as near neighbours.
    The Rangiora Ward Advisory Board, which is a committee of the Council, has reacted to a number of objections to this change from members of the community, including some living close to the reserve. They came to the Board last year complaining about the process and about what what was being planned. The Board meets monthly and its meetings are advertised. The first part of every meeting is available for citizens to raise matters of concern in a public forum.
    Any opinion I have expressed is not only my own – I have certainly heard from people affected either because they live close or because they are residents of this District.

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