NCC Annual Plan - Have your say now!

Posted by Paul Jennings on April 13, 2017 at 12:48:39 PM

Nelson City Council Draft Annual Plan 2017/18

You have one week to have your say.

Is Nelson City Council doing enough to support mountain biking?

Flash back to 12 months ago and over 300 mountain bikers from Nelson took the time to read Nelson City Council’s Draft Annual Plan 2016/17 and make a submission, which sent a very clear message to the council. As a community, we said that mountain bikers expected more from NCC when it comes to enabling the development of high quality mountain bike facilities for all residents and visitors to enjoy. Your collective submissions added up to the biggest single issue NCC was asked to address.

The result was two-fold:

The NCC Annual Plan 2016/17 contained $178,000 worth of mountain bike related expenditure. It also signalled a new awareness at NCC that mountain bikers expected a lot more from the council, and that mountain biking (and cycling in general) had the potential to be something that Nelson could become world famous for if it received the right support.

The people that were standing for council in the 2016 elections almost unanimously acknowledged that mountain biking was significant to Nelson’s identity, economy, and community wellbeing. Nine of the councillors that were elected, and the Mayor, all made very pro-mountain biking pledges as part of their campaigns.

All was looking great. Nelson Mountain Bike Club, with our 2000+ members, was optimistic and we were encouraged to put even more of our resources into working closely with NCC to help smooth the way for the support we were promised.

The situation today:

Not much of that $178,000 has been spent yet, but we have received assurances from NCC that it will either be spent, or committed to be spent, in this financial year. So, progress is happening, just a bit slower than we would have liked and with more hurdles than we envisaged.

•    $5,000 has been spent on the resource consent for the long awaited Fringed Hill trail, with a further $3,000 earmarked for an archaeological inspection of the heritage wall that the trail passes. We are hopeful that work can start on this trail in the next week or so.
•    $8,000 is available to rent a portaloo to be placed in Andrew's Field.
•    $15,000 is available to help assist NMTBC with the cost of reinstating the existing trails in Codgers. The first portion is earmarked for the resource consent with the second portion being made available to NMTBC next week for actual trail building.
•    New trails at Codgers, being built by NMTBC, have been allocated $40,000. The Council has also allowed a further $5,000 towards signage, which will be undertaken jointly with NMTBC as soon as the tracks are completed.
•    $30,000 has been allocated to create a hub/car parking in the Brook. This will provide only basic facilities, toilet etc. together with parking. If the Brook hub is not completed this financial year the remaining money will be carried forward and work completed next financial year.
•    Council officers have been working with NMTBC to define an achievable grade 2 trail at Marsden Valley and the contract to build this is expected to be awarded, and construction started, this financial year.
•    Work has not been undertaken on the economic assessment, which had $20,000 allocated to it. Other priorities have meant that NCC has not been able to get on with this yet, though it hopes to get this underway shortly.

What does that mean to you?

It's a good step forward from where we have been for the last three years. Progress, however, is slow and we have spent a lot of time going over the basics with councillors and council staff who struggle to understand the size and scale of the sport in our region and the value it can bring to our economy if embraced and nurtured.

NCC is now asking for your feedback on its Draft Annual Plan 2017/18, which will shape the next 12 months of council activity.

The budget allocated to mountain biking over the next 12 months is still small - $80k - especially considering there are an estimated 5000+ regular mountain bike riders in Nelson and it could bring $10s millions into our economy each year. $80k earmarked for mountain biking in 2017/18 from a total income of $112,000,000 over the same period? We don't feel this is fair, or anywhere near enough if we want Nelson to become an exceptional place to ride a mountain bike - which most councillors supported during the election.

So - what can we all do?

As a mountain biker you can have a really big impact on how 2017/18 will play out. The NCC Draft Annual Plan 2017/18 is currently open for consultation. The $80k is allocated to two new trails in the Maitai Valley area to link to Tantragee Saddle and some funding towards the further investigation into what a mountain bike hub in the Maitai might look like. If you want to see these things happen then now is the time to tell NCC you support them and want them to go ahead.

We also think that mountain bikers, who were promised so much last year but have so far been delivered very little, should also use the opportunity to demand explanations from NCC:
•    Why is NCC unwilling/unable to progress mountain bike related projects in a timely manner?
•    Why hasn’t the 2016/17 MTB project budget been spent?
•    Why is the 2017/18 budget only $80k when projects like the modeler's pond at Tahunanui, for example, is being allocated over $1,200,000? Mountain biking is one of the most popular recreation activities in our region, with thousands of participants every day/week - it’s also a real driver for economic growth.
•    Why isn't mountain biking being embraced by NCC - as it is being by other councils all over NZ? We have been left behind and we now must make up ground, where just a few years ago we had the opportunity to lead the way.

You have until 5.00 pm on Tuesday 18 April 2017 to make your submission.

Here is what we need you to do (it's pretty easy):

Fill out this online form to make a submission (you can write as much or as little as you like)

NMTBC will be making a submission asking for:
•    Increased budget for the development of mountain bike facilities and trails on NCC managed land. Currently it's $80k, we think $1m per year is a more realistic amount and inline with the Parks and Active Recreation portion of the rates income. This is to include funding to design, build and maintain at least one new high quality grade 2 family loop trail within easy riding distance of the Nelson CBD. We also want to see construction start this year on a high quality 'hub' in the Maitai where residents and visitors can park their cars safely and start/finish their rides.
•    A clearly defined process for volunteer development of mountain bike trails on NCC managed land (this still hasn't been created).
•    The finalisation of a ten-year strategy, including how NCC and the Regional Economic Development Agency will help ensure Nelson becomes world famous as a mountain bike tourism destination.
Feel free to ask NCC for what we are asking for, or tell the Council what you want to see.

You can read all the info about the NCC annual plan here

Trail development on NCC land includes (but is not restricted to) Codgers, Fringed Hill, Pipers Reserve, Marsden Valley/Involution, Maitai (629, Peaking Ridge), Dun Mountain/Coppermine, Grampians, Centre of NZ. 

If you have any questions feel free to contact us at Nelson Mountain Bike Club any time:

Please feel free to pass this email on to any friends or family that are rate payers in Nelson and who would like to see mountain biking being given the support its popularity deserves.

It's time for positive action and positive change - let's make our voices heard.