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Land purchase could pave way for future wetland and recreation reserve

Wednesday, May 31, 2023   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: land, environment, recreation

The Waimakariri District Council is excited to announce it has purchased a property with significant potential for ecological and recreational development between Kaiapoi and Rangiora.

The newly acquired land is an 85ha block between Lineside and Revells Roads which is prone to flooding. Following heavy rain, water becomes trapped in the basin like land and for years it has been colloquially referred to by locals as “Lake Lineside”.

Now under Council ownership, it is hoped a proportion of the land could be retired from commercial operation and reverted to ephemeral wetland (an area that is periodically a wetland, and dry other times) in the future.

Over the next one to two years, while investigations are underway to determine the best use of the site, Council intends to offset the running costs by generating revenue from the land through a lease or license. This means it will have little to no cost to ratepayers.

Mayor Dan Gordon says it is very early days, but the unique opportunity the land provided was too good to pass up.

“Blocks of land like this do not come up very often so when it did Council seized the opportunity to purchase it.”

In last year’s Council Customer Satisfaction Survey more than 70 percent of respondents said it was important for the Council to be active in responding to climate change.

Council also received feedback in the survey calling for more green areas, larger parks, and recreational areas.

Residents called for Council to show leadership by prioritising climate change, sustainability, and environmental protection.

“Reverting the site from operational farming land to wetland in the future, will help reduce the sediment getting into the Kaiapoi River and improve the water quality of the river.

“As our District grows, it could also create a wonderful, natural recreational area in the District,” Mayor Gordon says.

“I was approached by passionate members of the Waimakariri Water Zone Committee. Former Chair Michael Blackwell, who was unwell and in hospital, phoned me and other elected members to ask that we seriously look at obtaining this land.

“Following this Council did investigate. Michael was delighted to learn that the Council had purchased the land. Sadly, Michael passed away a few days ago. It is a fitting tribute to someone who gave so much to his community and was passionate about the environment that Council was able to purchase this land and investigate its potential as a possible future wetland and recreation reserve.”

Mapping information provided by Environment Canterbury shows there are remnant wetlands already on site.

Council ecologist Dr Bex Dollery says under Council ownership, there would an opportunity to further enhance these.

“This parcel of land is a glimmer of hope for something that could be quite amazing for the Waimakariri District in the future,” Dr Dollery says.

“We have the opportunity to increase biodiversity, mitigate the impacts of climate change and provide better recreation for our residents.”

Dr Bex Dollery says purchasing the 85ha of land on one of the main arterial routes into Rangiora provides an opportunity for the land to be a natural reserve in a highly visible location. She says it will also be significantly beneficial to the vegetation and fauna in the area.

“We hope this could provide a recreational area and wetland comparable to Travis Wetland in Christchurch.”

Environment Canterbury Councillor Grant Edge congratulated the Waimakariri District Council for its forward-thinking purchase.

“It will now allow for strategic management that supports the regeneration of a natural wetland and enhance biodiversity, while securing stormwater retention capacity and addressing sediment discharge to the Kaiapoi River.

“This is a significant step that supports multiple actions to address climate change resilience for people and the environment.  I look forward to preparation of a management plan in the next phase,” Councillor Edge says.

General Manager for Community and Recreation Chris Brown says the Council will consult and work with the wider community as well as partners Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Environment Canterbury to work out the best possible use for this land.

“This project will require integrated planning and engagement with our partners and stakeholders as well as the community.

“We’ll look at all possible options, issues, constraints and opportunities before any final decisions are made.”

Chris Brown says purchasing this land helps Council to reach its stated level of service to provide enough natural park land for our growing population.

“The purchase of this property will enable the delivery of conservation and environmental outcomes outlined in the Long Term Plan and Draft Natural Environment Strategy,” he says.