The Kawatiri Coastal Trail took a little step closer to becoming a reality in late January. The Charleston to Westport Coastal Trail Trust which is driving the proposal recently selected the consultant companies that will carry out its $100,000 feasibility study and business case. Development West Coast and The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have jointly funded the feasibility study as part of the 2017 West Coast Economic Development Action Plan.
Trust Chairperson Richard Niederer says “it’s really exciting to be able to get some traction towards building the family friendly 54-kilometre cycling and walking heritage trail after more than 2 years of preparation and scoping. There has been a significant amount of work carried out by the trust, stakeholders and local supporters to get to this point and we look forward to a positive outcome from the feasibility study and business case.”
West Coast branches of Opus will be carrying out the engineering and ecology components, while Chris Coll Surveyors, based in Westport will complete the survey work. The business case, associated cycle trail research and the full final report will be compiled and completed by Wellington-based company Martin Jenkins which also carried out the West Coast Regional Growth Study. On top of this, there will be significant volunteer contributions by various trust members in their specialist areas of geology, geotechnical and civil construction, landscape architecture, marketing and communication, heritage, interpretation and financial.
Richard says “The trust is very fortunate to have full support from local and regional authorities, Iwi, and the wider community who see the ongoing local benefits of the trail. We are initially aiming conservatively for 8000 trail users per year which could contribute around $4 million dollars per year to the local economy. We envisage this to increase to 20,000 users in subsequent years. That will present new jobs and new business opportunities for locals and more sustainable visitor spending throughout the district.”
The feasibility study and business case will be completed by this June and a decision to proceed will be made in the months following. If given the go-ahead the trail is proposed to be completed and fully operational by 2020. The trust will be hosting a series of public information meetings to run through the trail concept and its aspirations starting early March.
(1 March 2018)