ATCA February 2019 Newsletter

Three Parks Underpass

There is an obvious need for an underpass on SH 84 for pedestrians and bikers to get to Three Parks, especially children. We have been lobbying QLDC and Transit NZ to ensure it is part of the plan. Please email us your thoughts.

Permanent Traffic Signals for Albert Town Bridge

The NZ Transport Agency’s Aspiring Highways team will be installing permanent traffic signals at the Albert Town Bridge.  This work in Queenstown Lakes District will start on Monday, 11 February and is expected to be completed by early April. The new permanent traffic signals will be able to adapt to traffic demand using radar. This will ensure traffic flows as efficiently as possible across the one lane bridge. In terms of volume of traffic, keep in mind this bridge was build in the 30s!

Wanaka Airport Expansion

Do you feel Council has provided you with sufficient information on the proposed major expansion of Wanaka Airport and the required infrastructure?

A Facebook page called Wanaka Airport Action has been created in order to better inform people about what QAC might have planned for the airport and the impact those plans may have on our community.  The aim is not to tell people what to think but to get the information out there and pressure Council and QAC to be more transparent about what is planned for the airport. The community cannot respond appropriately if we don't really know what's going on.

The page includes a poll asking whether the Council ought to provide more information about the proposed airport expansion and so far the overwhelming response has been "Yes!". 

Clutha River Bylaw Changes

We were told it would never happen - a ban on powered craft on the Upper Clutha that put passive users’ safety and enjoyment ahead of jet boats and jet skis, not to mention the positive environmental spinoffs as well. The outcome is only a partial ban (01 Dec thru to 31 Apr) and doesn’t yet include the two commercial operators.


As you may have read in the Wanaka Sun, the commercial operators are allowed above the bridge but they must respect the 5 knot speed limit (as to land) from December 1 - April 31st. If you see a boat breaking the bylaw, please contact the Harbour Master at craig.blake@smsl.co.nz and be sure to CC:  services@qldc.govt.nz with the name of the boat and date/time of the event. Please include photo or video if you can.


We are not pleased with the removal of all time and speed restrictions below the bridge. Albert Town does not end at the bridge. We will continue to fight to ensure all of Albert Town can use the river safely and not be subjected to high levels of noise and disturbance 24/7. ATCA takes the view that this part of the bylaw has to be reviewed and the previous time/speed restrictions restored. A better solution would be to implement a 5 knot speed limit for 600 meters downstream of the bridge. We ask boat owners to please respect this unofficial speed limit as a courtesy.

A.T. LAGOON RESTORATION (and Anglers Access and Clutha Bank)

This work is ongoing and part of a 5 year project our sub-committee has planned, subject to funding and volunteer help. In 2018 about 250 natives shrubs and trees were planted, including the Community Orchard (so far apple, pear, plum and hazelnut trees have been planted). Work on an irrigation system will begin soon. Restoration planting has now extended to Anglers Access (funds from Freshwater Improvement Fund) and along the River bank in the vicinity of the swimming hole largely due to the support of James Lindsay.

GUNN ROAD BIKE PARK

DOC has confirmed the Gunn Road kid's bike park will not be closed. However, DOC will not contribute to its upkeep or expansion. If you and your kids value the bike park, please contact us to help preserve this great asset for our community.   

Party in the Park!

Sunday 17th March 2019
11:00 am - 2:00pm

DOG EXCREMENT BINS

With the increasing number of dogs in the area and dog excrement being left behind by irresponsible dog owners especially in local walking tracks, ATCA approached Council to install dog excrement bins. One has been positioned in the reserve at the end of Gunn Rd. We are currently requesting another at the junction of Gunn Rd and Lagoon Ave.

MEMBERSHIP OF WANAKA BACKYARD TRAPPING INITIATIVE

ATCA has joined the Wanaka Backyard Trapping Group. The aim of the initiative is to trap predators that live within urban areas, namely rats, mice, hedgehogs, ferrets and stoats. We have been given 15 DOC-approved traps and will limit our initial involvement to the A.T. Lagoon. Poison is not used and the traps are cat-proof.

ATCA encourages individual members to join Wanaka Backyard Trapping and set a trap in their own property.

THIS IS MY PLACE


Interested in helping to shape Albert Town's future? Have you got ideas to share about housing, climate change, growth and land use in your town? 

The Prince Albert, Albert Town
Tuesday 26 February
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Register at facebook.com/QLDCinfo

ATCA Submission on Safety Bylaw Amendment - Removal of Powered Craft on Upper Clutha

Executive Summary:

 

The Albert Town Community Association seeks the following decision from the Queenstown Lakes District Council on the Navigational Safety Bylaw Amendment: 

 

1.        Accept 1.1 (a) (ii) (iii)  (b) of the proposed amendment. However, we continue to plead for year around removal of powered vessels from the Albert Town Bridge to Lake Wanaka. At the very least, Council should extend the jet boat free period to include the busy summer months of November and April, which includes Easter weekend.

 

2.        Refuse 1.1 (i) - Commercial motorised craft should be required to follow the same safety bylaws as private craft. If accepted, 1.1 (i) should be reviewed with the annual commercial jet boat Resource Consent evaluations and amended when permitted. If accepted, we would also ask the commercial jet boats to voluntarily avoid the Clutha River upstream of the  Albert Town bridge from December 1st - March 31st (or new dates). 

 

3.    Refuse 1.2 - A permanent speed uplifting downstream of the bridge arbitrarily splits Albert Town at the bridge and increases the dangers just downstream of the bridge. We ask that you leave current time restrictions in place and amend the bylaw to include a 5 knot speed limit at all times from the Albert Town Bridge to the most downstream resident, thus restricting Hamilton Turns and other dangerous and noisy manoeuvres inside a residential area. 

 

The Albert Town Community Association would like to commend council for their hard work on this issue. Council has listened to our community and this amendment is a step in the right direction. This amendment better aligns our Navigational Safety bylaw with the current District Plan as it applies to this section of the Clutha River. 

 

 4-44 “The Council considers there is an incompatibility between motorised craft and passive activities on the upstream stretch of the river. DOWNSTREAM OF ALBERT TOWN, the Clutha River is large enough and the pressures for use less intense, so that a wider variety of uses can be accommodated.”

 

However, the ATCA continues to plead for a powered vessel restriction throughout the year about the Albert Town bridge. At the very least, we should extend this power craft free period to include the busy summer months of November and April (Easter). 

 

Although there might be logistical limitations at this time, we encourage council to eventually remove 1.1 (i) A &B. We should not have two Safety Bylaws, one for commercial jet boats and one for private boats. Commercial resource consents must abide by Safety Bylaws, but in this case we are allowing safety exceptions for the resource consents by writing the resource consents into the bylaw. Hopefully this is only a temporary solution.This could be rectified at the annual review of the Resource Consents for both commercial jet boat operations. Once both resource consents have been amended, 1.1 (i) could be removed. In the mean time we would also ask the commercial jet boats to voluntarily avoid the Clutha River upstream of the bridge from December 1st to March 31st (or new dates)

 

See Current Resource Consents: Edgewater 21 (i)(ii)(iii) and Lakeland 24 (i)(ii)(iii)

“The conditions of this consent may be reviewed within 10 working days of each anniversary of the date of the consent, if, on reasonable grounds, the consent authority finds that: (i) there is or is likely to be an adverse environmental effect as a result of the exercise of this consent, which was unforeseen when the consent was granted (iii) there has been a change in circumstances such that conditions of the consent are no longer appropriate in terms of purpose…”

 

If the commercial jet boats insist on continuing to access the Clutha above the bridge during this powered vessel free time period (at least until council can review and amend their resource consents) we ask council to clarify and fully enforce the conditions of the resource consents which include the following: 

 

  1. All jet boat drivers shall maintain a centre line course at all times. From daily observations, this appears to be violated on every trip upstream from the bridge. If commercial jet boat drivers followed all restrictions of their current resource consents, there would be no entertainment value for clients above the bridge.
  2. Monitoring of the exercise of the consent has revealed that there is or is likely to be an adverse effect on the environment. See environmental damage and erosion from close turns just above the Albert Town Campground, also a violation of the centreline restriction above.  
  3. Number of trips per day/year. It is unclear if anyone is monitoring, recording or enforcing this restriction. 
  4. Noise restrictions. It is unclear if anyone is monitoring, recording or enforcing this restriction. 

 

Although the proposed amendment removes jet boats from above the bridge, the removal of all time and speed restrictions below the bridge is an accident waiting to happen. Allowing boats to travel at unrestricted speeds at all times of the day would allow a boat to travel at 100 kph in low light conditions through a residential area where passive river use is the norm (including a kid’s swimming area). Council is only 600 meters away from a solution to this issue that will last for years to come!

 

We ask council to implement a 5 knot speed restriction (as to land) from the Albert Town bridge to the most downstream Albert Town resident. Or put another way, “boaters are to make way through the residential area between the Albert Town Bridge and the Cardrona River confluence with the minimum possible noise and disturbance to the residents and other river users”. We also ask that time restrictions downstream of Albert Town remain. Current time restrictions (10am-6pm Summer and 10am-4pm Winter ) were originally implemented to ensure jet boats traveling at excessive speeds would not be on the Clutha River during low light, low visibility situations. Our daylight hours have not changed, and therefore neither should the time restrictions. 

 

It is important to note that paragraph 4-44 of our District Plan does not split Albert Town at the bridge, and neither can this bylaw. According to the Maritime Transport Act 1994, this is not allowed:

 

33M (2) (d) (ii) Navigational bylaws may not — be inconsistent with the Resource Management Act

 

The Council’s own Operative District Plan, which was overseen by our elected officials and drafted with considerable public consultations, discusses the uniqueness and value of this specific section of the Clutha River in detail. There are many guidelines in the Operative District Plan on how to manage this area, these guidelines also include noise pollution and environmental protection standards which are not covered by this bylaw. However, these standards are directly and negatively impacted by parts of proposed bylaw. And again, our ‘environment’ does include the safety of our people and aesthetics according to the RMA.

 

In conclusion, Council is to be commended for their hard work on a dangerous issue. The proposed amendment is an excellent example of forward planning based on the issues we face today. However, this proposed amendment needs further edits if it is to truly reflect the desires and safety of our entire community.

 

First, extend the motor-craft free time period to be year around, or at the very least include the months of November and April . Second, Council should quickly work to have one set of bylaws for both private and commercial craft. If not rectified and removed, this would set a horrible inconsistent and contestable precedent. Lastly, it is crucial we have some form of speed restrictions below the Albert Town bridge. Keep in mind this is only 600 meters of the 338km long Clutha! This could be remedied in several ways, but in general should be: “boaters are to make way through the residential area between the Albert Town Bridge and the Cardrona River confluence with the minimum possible noise and disturbance to the residents and other river users”.

 

Thanks again for your hard work.

Submissions Needed on Clutha Bylaw Banning Powered Craft

Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) has proposed a new amendment to the Navigational Safety Bylaw 2018 which bans powered vessels on the Clutha River from Lake Wanaka to the Albert Town bridge from December 1st to March 31st each year. Commercial jet boats with existing resource consents will still be allowed in this section of the river. The new bylaw also removes all speed and time restrictions below the Albert Town Bridge (see full amendment here). 

If you support a ban on powered craft on the Upper Clutha, it is imperative you SUBMIT to council in favour of this bylaw amendment. The submission process takes only a few seconds. There is an optional space to explain your stance and make further recommendations (see suggestions below). Submissions close August 31st.

https://www.qldc.govt.nz/…/navigation-safety-bylaw-2018-co…/

Last year many individuals and organisations, including the Albert Town Community Association (ATCA), expressed their safety concerns regarding the large number of passive river users (kayakers, rafters, paddle boarders, swimmers, fishers, etc..) sharing the river with jet boats and jet skis. QLDC’s amendment to remove powered craft on the Upper Clutha is a step in the right direction to remedy this dangerous situation. 

However, the ATCA does have concerns around the proposed open speed limit for powered craft downstream of the Albert Town bridge. We disagree with this arbitrary split of Albert Town at the bridge (keeping in mind this is only an additional half kilometre of the 338km Clutha River). Albert Town residents downstream of the bridge should also be entitled to safe passive use of the Clutha River and not be subjected to the noise pollution jet boats and jet skis generate. 

Therefore, the ATCA encourages you in your submission to suggest a reduced speed limit and restrictions on manoeuvres such as 'hamilton turns' or 'donuts' downstream of the bridge to the most downstream Albert Town resident. We also feel commercial boats should not operate under a different set of safety rules. We would ask commercial operators to voluntarily abide by the new bylaw or we would ask council to amend the resource consents at an annual review to better reflect the new bylaw. 

In past submissions many people voiced concerns about environmental issues associated with increased boat traffic including erosion, disturbance of bird and aquatic life, and the loss of peace and tranquility along the river. This amendment is solely focused on safety. However, the removal of powered vessels from this ecologically valuable stretch of the Clutha River better adheres to the District plan which clearly states that powered vessels are incompatibly with this section of the Clutha River (4-44).

ATCA Submission on Go Jets Wanaka – Albert Town Ramp Licence

The Albert Town Community Association opposes the Go Jets Wanaka proposed new licence. Furthermore, we strongly oppose the granting of a 5-year licence. 

The noise, environmental degradation and danger associated with the rapidly increasing commercial jet boat traffic in Albert Town (both above and below the bridge) is a serious concern for our community. We have not had a chance to engage the Albert Town community on this issue and we are unclear as to how this licence might further exasperate this problem.

We ask that you postpone this decision until after the new Navigational Safety Bylaw 2018 is passed and issue this licence in accordance with a larger plan that includes the Albert Town Recreational Reserve Management Plan and District Plan. We need time and clarity on this issue to better inform our community.

Access to the river via the Albert Town Recreational Reserve and the activities on the river that this access enables cannot be treated as mutually exclusive as stated in APL's application document (dated 5/2/2018 under heading Submission Process, Para 2). Put simply, by granting Go Jets a licence to operate from the Recreation Reserve, QLDC cannot then disassociate or ignore the impact that this operation has on the Reserve. Once on the river, this commercial activity does adversely impact the Albert Town Recreational Reserve with noise and shoreline damage. This can already be seen immediately downstream of the launch ramp where the boats dig their bows into the bank for embarking and disembarking passengers. Significant erosion due to commercial jet boats performing rapid turns next to shore can also be clearly seen in the Albert Town Recreational Reserve just upstream from the Albert Town campground.

The Albert Town Recreational Reserve is an increasingly important asset to the community. It is used extensively for swimming, fishing, camping and picnicking, providing an area of peace and enjoyment as the urbanisation of the area continues. This licence runs contrary to the reserve management plan as well as the district plan which discusses this area of the Clutha River in depth.

Albert Town Reserve Recreational Management Plan
11.1 Commercial activities are not generally consistent with the values of reserves, and the impact needs to be carefully managed and confined to more appropriate spaces.

For this reason, the Jet Sprint Course was removed, as it was "not compatible with the quiet values of the reserve." [Policy 14 Reserve Management Plan]

See Operative District Plan: 4-44, 4-42 i(c), 4-43, 4-41 10, 4-38, 4-42i, 4-26 3.1, 4-41 5

The application also states that during the months of December 2017 to March 2018 (duration of the temporary permit) no complaints or issues have arisen. There have been complaints about commercial use of the boat ramp. However, we are unclear when commercial operators began officially or unofficially using the boat ramp and we not sure when the complaints took place. 

This brings up the larger issue on the responsibilities of the QLDC and the Harbour Master to record and report maritime accidents, incidents and complaints. The ATCA is currently seeking clarification on this documentation process which was brought to light during the Navigational Safety Bylaw hearing. This issue would need to be rectified before we can move forward with accurate information.

As stated in QLDC's public notification of Go Jet's licence application, QLDC is predisposed to granting a licence regardless of any opposition to the contrary. That being the case, the Albert Town Community Association contends that any licence granted should be temporary and definitely not for 5 years. It would be inappropriate to issue a renewable 5-year licence to any commercial jet boat operator given the rapid growth in residents and visitors to the Wanaka area. As with so many infrastructural and environmental concerns currently being raised by such growth, Council would be wise to not commit to a 5 year licence, the consequences of which may be unforeseen. This issue is demanding of much more consideration. The other compelling argument for granting a limited or temporary licence to Go Jets is that later this year Council will be addressing the wider issue of access and speed limits to powered vessels on the Clutha River (Outlet to Red Bridge). The outcome of possible revisions to the Navigation Safety Bylaw 2018 could well impact the granting of a licence to operate from the Albert Town Recreation Reserve. Council have a duty to act responsibly on this issue by retaining the status quo, that is a temporary licence, until possible changes to the Navigation Safety Bylaw are known.

In conclusion, the Albert Town Community Association strongly encourages QLDC to postpone any decision to grant Go Jets' application for a 5-year licence to operate from the Albert Town Recreation Reserve. Instead, we recommended some form of temporary licence be granted until the outcome of possible changes to Navigation Safety Bylaw 2018 are known and we have a better and more informed understanding of how this licence application, and other possible licence applications fit with an overall long-term plan for Albert Town. This long-term plan will include the Albert Town Recreation Reserve Management Plan, the District Plan and the 10 Year Plan.

 

Navigational Safety Bylaw - Informal Consultation Clarification (Closes Friday May 11th)

We wanted to further clarify the QLDC’s informal consolation process in regards to the 2018 Navigational Safety Bylaw as it relates to motorised craft.  

The purpose of this informal consultation is to gather opinions from our community in order to write a new inclusive bylaw. Once council hears from the community, they will write the bylaw and it will be up for formal submissions later this year. If you want to have your say on the bylaw before it is written, please follow the link below to QLDC’s survey.

SURVEY LINK

Further Clarification of Options:

Option B: No Motorised craft from Lake Wanaka to the Red Bridge in Luggate. We’ve had several people comment that this is their preferred option. However, they have also stated that they felt this was ‘impossible’ and therefore choose Option C. We are told Options B and C are not mutually exclusive, so a choice for Option B does not hurt the chances of Option C becoming a reality. Both choices give Council a better idea of the communities’ ultimate vision and therefore the final bylaw could be a mixture of both options. Please choose the option you prefer, and be sure to explain your ideas in the comment section.

Option C: Many people voiced support for this option (no motorised craft above the bridge). However, several ATCA members are concerned about the ‘permanent speed uplifting’ below the Albert Town Bridge. This removes the 5 knot time restrictions on motorised craft (10-4 Winter and 10-6 Summer). The ATCA feels this sentence is ill placed and artificially separates Albert Town at the bridge. 

These options are merely designed to gather information. If you like Option C, but find this sentence regarding the removal of time limits below the bridge not acceptable, be sure to specify this in your comments. Also, many people have suggested a 5 knot zone at all times from the Albert Town bridge down to the Cardona River/Hawea River/most downstream home. Please include all your ideas and caveats to your choice in your comments. 

2018 Navigational Safety Bylaw Update

As you may have seen, QLDC is undertaking informal consultation in regards to the new Navigation Safety Bylaw 2018. The 2018 Bylaw (which includes hundreds of other non-controversial topics) was adapted March 23, 2018. However, the bylaw is not complete.

The original proposed bylaw would have allowed unlimited speeds on the entire Clutha for most daylight hours. The vast majority of submitters to the original proposed bylaw wanted the opposite, they wanted motorcraft free areas. Council heard our concerns and now wants our community to help design the new bylaw as it relates to powered craft on the Upper Clutha.*

With our feedback, council will write a new bylaw. This new bylaw will then require another formal submission and hearing process for approval, which should take place in June.

It is important that you complete this survey as your views will guide the new bylaw that Council will put up for submissions. If you would like to see the Upper Clutha River powercraft free, please click on the link below. Feedback window closes at 5pm, Friday 11 May, 2018.

QLDC SURVEY

More Information and Clarification: 
There are four options in regards to motor craft on the Clutha. Some people have commented that the wording is a little confusing. Here is a simplified version of the options, but be sure to click the link above if you want your voice heard. 

Option A) Status Quo - Unlimited speeds on the Clutha during most daylight hours both above and below the Albert Town Bridge. Currently, there is a small section at the Lake Wanaka outlet that is 5 knots only. 

Option B) No powered craft on ‘entire’ Clutha River. This would be from Lake Wanaka to the Red Bridge in Luggate. This is the most aggressive option in terms of removing powered craft from the Clutha. 

Option C) No powered craft on the Upper Clutha above the Albert Town Bridge. Powered craft would be allowed below the Albert Town bridge at all times (currently it's 10am-6pm Summer and 10am-4pm Winter). Option B and C are not mutually exclusive. e.g. If you pick Option B it is not a strike against Option C. We have had lots of ideas regarding Albert Town downstream of the Bridge (5 knot limit to the most downstream resident/ Cardrona River, Motorcraft free area, etc…) please include these ideas in the comment section of your survey. FYI: The ATCA recommendation will include Albert Town below the bridge to the most down stream resident. 

Option D) Unlimited speeds on the entire Clutha for most daylight hours. This is the original proposed bylaw that was removed after public outcry. Just to be clear, Option A is the same as Option D with the exception of the few hundred meter 5 knot section at the Lake Wanaka outlet. 

It’s important to remember this is only a safety bylaw. We have received many complaints about environmental degradation, noise pollution, and shared use of the river (fishing, swimming, rafting, etc). These are very relevant points that should and will be pursued beyond this bylaw and will help guide the 10-year plan, resource consents, etc.. This safety bylaw also does not include the commercial operators with resource consents whom we receive the most complaints about. However, as far as we can tell, resource consents can and should be reviewed annually and safety bylaws such as this one would be relevant in this process (see below excerpt from existing Resource Consent). 

In accordance with Section 128 of the Resource Management Act 1991, the conditions of this consent may be reviewed within 10 working days of each anniversary of the date of this consent, if, on reasonable grounds, the consent authority finds that:

i) there is or is likely to be an adverse environmental effect as a result of the exercise of this consent, which was unforeseen when the consent was granted.

ii) monitoring of the exercise of the consent has revealed that there is or is likely to be an adverse effect on the environment.

iii) there has been a change in circumstances such that the conditions of the consent are no longer appropriate in terms of the purpose of the above Act.


*Council is also asking for community feedback on three other issues (River boards, Leg Leash and Surfboards). We have not received any questions or comments about these issues to date. 
 

ATCA Opposition to the Proposed 2017 Navigational Safety Bylaw

Executive Summary:

The Albert Town Community Association seeks the following decision from the Queenstown Lakes District Council:

1.    Refuse amendments to Schedule 2 - Speed Uplifting and Access Lanes, as it relates to the Clutha/Mata-Au River of the Proposed 2017 Navigational Safety Bylaw; and

2.     Add a new clause into the 2017 Navigational Safety Bylaw prohibiting any motorised craft operating between Lake Wanaka and the Albert Town Bridge; or

3.    Add a new clause into the 2017 Navigational Safety Bylaw restricting the speed limit to 5 knots from Lake Wanaka to the Albert Town Bridge at all times.

The Albert Town Community Association opposes the 2017 Navigational Safety Bylaw. Specifically, we are opposed to Schedule 2 - Speed Uplifting and Access Lanes as it relates to the Clutha/Mata-Au River. This schedule allows jet boats and jet skis to travel at unrestricted speeds from Lake Wanaka to the Albert Town Bridge in summer from 10am-6pm and winter from 10am-4pm. The current 2014 Navigational Safety Bylaw is similar and also allows unrestricted speeds from the Albert Town Bridge upstream to the 5 knot buoy just below the Outlet Campground. We have safety concerns with the Speed Upliftings in both the 2014 and proposed 2017 Navigational Safety Bylaws. We should note this stretch of river constitutes only 1% of the total 338-kilometre Clutha River.

The Clutha River from Lake Wanaka to the Albert Town Bridge is a well-known and popular multi-use section of the Clutha River. This section of the river is visited by thousands of bikers, walkers, joggers, fishers, kayakers, swimmers, stand up paddle boarders and rafters every year. Floating and passive use of this section of river is a time-honoured tradition for Wanaka residents and visitors. The number of people living and visiting Wanaka has grown considerably in recent years. This growth is also reflected in the passive use of the river. 

The number of motorised craft and passive users on the Clutha will continue to grow. The QLDC must commit to developing a long-term strategy, including safety bylaws for the waterways in the Upper Clutha with designated areas for passive use. This means listening to the entire community and writing new bylaws, not simply editing the existing 2014 Navigational Safety Bylaw or solely focusing on the incremental changes between the 2014 and proposed 2017 Navigational Safety bylaws. 

“It’s always been this way”, inability to enforce bylaws, or bylaw confusion are not reasons to keep or build upon an existing dangerous bylaw. This is the case for the proposed 2017 Navigational Safety bylaw, which merely extends the same unrestricted speed limits mentioned in Schedule 3 of the existing 2014 Navigational Safety bylaw. We need to determine the best way for everyone to safely enjoy the Clutha River from Lake Wanaka to the Albert Town Bridge based on where Wanaka is today. What the bylaws have said over the past 30 years is irrelevant. We must take a fresh look and base our safety bylaws on what our entire community needs to remain safe, based on our current population and river use patterns.

 

To be clear, the safest option for the Clutha river as it runs from Lake Wanaka to the Albert Town Bridge would be no motorised craft at any time. Council might believe this is not feasible for other non-safety related reasons, but if we are strictly discussing safety, this is the safest option. There is also plenty of jet boating water downstream from Albert Town. Council acknowledges this incompatibility in the Operative District Plan:

 4-44 “The Council considers there is an incompatibility between motorised craft and passive activities on the upstream stretch of the river. Downstream of Albert Town, the Clutha River is large enough and the pressures for use less intense, so that a wider variety of uses can be accommodated.” 

A motorcraft-free section of the river would be a unique attraction in New Zealand for both tourist and local residents, and again, we are only talking about a five kilometre stretch of a 338 kilometre river. A motorcraft-free section of the river would remove bylaw confusion and be easier to enforce. 

Another option would be restricting the speed limit to 5 knots from Lake Wanaka to the Albert Town Bridge (or the farthest downstream Albert Town residence) at all times. There will be reasons to oppose this option as well, but they will not be safety related. This would also naturally decrease the number of motorised craft in the area, making it even safer for passive use. It would also be prudent to remove all motorised craft from the small Albert Town Island swimming area. 

It is the Harbour Master’s personal opinion that a full speed jet boat on plane is more manoeuvrable and therefore safer where swimmers are present. The Harbour Master is also the author of the proposed 2017 Safety Bylaw and we are told will be an expert witness for the same bylaw. We have yet to find evidence to support the Harbour Master’s opinion that faster jet boats are safer when mixed with swimmers, and it seems to run counter to Maritime NZ navigational guidelines and 9.1 (a) of the proposed 2017 Navigational Bylaw. Both safety guidelines require a 5 knot limit when passing within 50 metres of a person in or on the water. This 5 knot restriction is nullified during the proposed unrestricted speed limit periods from Lake Wanaka to Albert Town during summer from 10am to 6pm and winter from 10am to 4pm.

Manoeuvrability and safety are not synonymous, which we have witnessed with several tragic boat accidents on the South Island in recent years. A boat traveling at 5 knots has considerably more time to dodge a passive river user, and if an accident were to occur the consequences would be far less dire. This is why we implement 5 knot speed restrictions in high traffic areas across New Zealand. The proposed 2017 bylaw also aims to simplify the current 2014 bylaw, which is needed. However, the primary purpose of the bylaw is safety, and the simplification of the proposed bylaw only extends unrestricted speed limits further up the river — it does not increase safety.

It is also of the Harbour Master’s personal opinion that existing Resource Consents for commercial jet boaters are at the “top of the pecking order” and impossible to change. First, our safety bylaws that protect our community would be at the “top of the pecking order” as is clearly stated in the aforementioned Resource Consents:

(22) In all other respects the consent holder shall comply with the relevant Council by-laws for waterways at all times, and all other regulations. 

Secondly, resource consents can and do change. In accordance with Section 128 of the Resource Management Act (RMA) which is also noted in the aforementioned Resource Consents:

The conditions of this consent may be reviewed within 10 working days of each anniversary of the date of the consent, if, on reasonable grounds, the consent authority finds that: (i) there is or is likely to be an adverse environmental effect as a result of the exercise of this consent, which was unforeseen when the consent was granted (ii) there has been a change in circumstances such that conditions of the consent are no longer appropriate in terms of purpose…

It’s important to note that the RMA defines the environment to include people and communities, as well as the social, economic, aesthetic, and cultural conditions which affect the matter (RMA Part 1,2 (1) Environment). The Wanaka district had less than five thousand residents when these Resource Consents were signed. Our drastic increase in residents and visitors has led to an increase in passive and motorised river users. This increase clearly constitutes an ‘unforeseen change in circumstances’, especially as it relates to the safety of the people in our community.

A key component to the commercial jet boat Resource Consents was the 5 knot speed limit on the upper stretch of the Clutha River. Unrestricted speeds would not have complied with the Objectives and Policies of the District Plan at the time, and therefore it is unlikely consent would have been granted. Consequently, the proposed amendment to Schedule 2 of the 2017 Navigational Safety Bylaw removes the 5 knot section of the Clutha. If accepted, this should justify a review of the commercial jet boat Resource Consents. We are not advocating for the removal these consents, merely establishing the fact that Resource Consents can be reviewed and amended and that they are not at “the top of the pecking order” as the Harbour Master suggested. 

Other safety options for the Clutha River from Lake Wanaka to the Albert Town Bridge might include restricting motorised craft during certain months or decreasing the uplifting times to allow more time for safe passive use of the river. The uplifting times could revolve more around passive river use behaviour and not cover most of the daylight hours as they currently do (summer 10am-6pm, winter 10am-4pm). As is, the uplifting times revolve completely around jet boats. This seems to run counter to the Operative District Plan, which repeatedly focuses on multiple use of our lakes and rivers, specifically on this section of the Clutha. 

The Council’s own Operative District Plan, which was overseen by our elected officials and drafted with considerable public consultations, discusses the uniqueness and value of this specific section of the Clutha River in detail. There are many guidelines in the Operative District Plan on how to manage this area, these guidelines also include noise pollution and environmental protection standards which are not covered by this bylaw. However, these standards are directly and negatively impacted by the proposed bylaw. And again, our ‘environment’ does include the safety of our people and aesthetics according to the RMA. The current and proposed Navigational Safety Bylaws do not align with the Operative or Proposed District Plan nor the Resource Management Act in any way. According to the Maritime Transport Act 1994, this is not allowed:

33M (2) (d) (ii) Navigational bylaws may not — be inconsistent with the Resource Management Act

If the bylaw is to reflect “what the community wants” as the Harbour Master suggests, the District Plan is a good indicator, and should be used as a blueprint to create a new, original bylaw.  

Operative District Plan - District Wide Issues

4-41 10 To protect the special qualities of the Clutha River upstream of Albert Town bridge and those recreational activities which benefit from those characteristics.

4-38 On the Clutha River, multiple use of the river by various users has been tried in the past with speed and time limits for motorised craft. However, there may be no potential for multiple use of this river in a way that is acceptable to all parties. Jetboating, even with speed and time restrictions, may inevitably adversely affect such a nationally regarded fishery or the experience sought by users of that significant waterbody. The complex speed and time limits also create uncertainty for river users and enforcement difficulties for the Council.

4-44 The special qualities of the Clutha River - its large volume, uncontrolled outlet, clear water, outstanding fishery, natural peaceful surrounds and accessibility - make it particularly suited to those recreational activities requiring and benefiting most from these qualities. Angling, non-powered boating, riverside walking and picnicking are the most suited activities to this river. In addition, the environment of Albert Town is most protected by such activities. The Council considers there is an incompatibility between motorised craft and passive activities on the upstream stretch of the river. Downstream of Albert Town, the Clutha River is large enough and the pressures for use less intense, so that a wider variety of uses can be accommodated. For these reasons, motorised boating on the upper reaches of the Clutha River has been restricted. 

4-42 i (c)To specify rules limiting or prohibiting motorised boating craft in areas of high passive recreation use, significant nature conservation values and wildlife habitat. 

4-43 In some instances where motorised craft will in most circumstances be incompatible with the values defined for the lake and river, motorised craft will be excluded from these lakes and rivers.

Also see 4-26 3.1, 4-41 5, 4-42 (i)e, 4-43

We must look to the future. Having more jet boats and jet skis traveling at unrestricted speeds in the same area as an increased number of passive users is an accident waiting to happen. Council must write an original, clear Navigational Safety Bylaw that factors in the needs and safety of everyone in our community.