Coast ratepayers’ share of shovel ready flood projects confirmed

4:36 pm on 17 September 2020

Hokitika ratepayers will have to contribute $2.7 million to extend sea and river protection works for the town.

Flood hit parts of Hokitika.

The community in Hokitika suffered after massive floods in March last year. Photo: RNZ / Sarah Robson

And Westport ratepayers will need to come up with $155,000 if they want an advanced warning system that would give them time to escape a major flood.

The West Coast Regional Council now has all the details of how much co-funding the government wants from Coast communities, if it is to go ahead with approved 'shovel-ready' flood protection projects.

For Hokitika, the plan is to extend the seawall as far north as Richards Drive, and build a river flood protection scheme between Kaniere and the Hokitika Spit from a one in 100-year flood event.

The government has agreed to put up $3.8m for the work - as long as the regional council can secure $3.2m from the community.

The regional council and Westland District Council will contribute $250,000 - leaving $2.7m to be funded by a merged and extended local rating district.

"We are working hard to secure additional co-funding," regional council director of operations Randal Beal said.

"This will reduce the amount sought from the Hokitika community but we are unable to confirm how much, or when, that additional co-funding will be secured."

In Westport, the regional council will need to set up a new rating district if residents want sophisticated new flood warning telemetry.

A local contribution of $155,000 from ratepayers would unlock $400,000 for the project from the government, Beal said.

The flood warning system was the number one short-term priority recommended by the Westport 2100 Working Group, to give the town up to eight hours' notice to evacuate.

Flooding in Hokitika.

Houses were flooded in Hokitika after floods in March last year. Photo: RNZ / Sarah Robson

To raise the co-funding, the regional council would seek to set up a rating district for properties from Carters Beach to Beach Road at Fairdown Road, and upriver to Te Kuha, Beal said.

The project would cost ratepayers $7.90 per $100,000 of their property's capital value, over a three-year term.

"Councillors and staff from the regional council will be holding drop-in sessions for those who want to find out more about this project and how it will affect them.

"Any future projects, such as a flood protection scheme, or further recommendations from the Westport 2100 Working Group, would be consulted on with the community at the time of the proposal ... but that infrastructure is not being considered at this time."

Public drop-in sessions would be held at the Green Room in the NBS Building in Westport on 1 October between 10am and 6pm, and the following day between 9am and 2pm.

As previously reported, the Franz Josef flood protection project will need more than $2m from the community to go ahead.

The government would provide $18m if the council could find $6m of co-funding, Beal said.

The Transport Agency would provide $6m and the councils $250,000, leaving $1.9m to be funded from an extended and merged rating district.

That project involves raising all existing flood protection assets below the Waiho (Waiau) bridge by 2m.

The Waiho Bridge has been totally taken out by the raging floodwaters.

The Waiho Bridge was taken out by raging floodwaters in March last year. Photo: Civil Defence West Coast

New flood barriers will be built from the heliport wall to the 55km/h corner, as well as a new wall between Rata Knoll and the Milton stopbank.

The raising of the bridge and approaches is also included in the project.

Beal said every dollar invested by the new Franz Josef rating district would attract $9.50 from the government, up to $18m.

"This is a great opportunity for the Hokitika and Franz Josef communities to fast-track these projects ... it's unlikely the community would be able to access this sort of funding again."

The government has also confirmed the funding to expand the Greymouth flood wall, but community consultation for that project had been done previously and a new round would not be necessary, the council said.

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