The community development committee meeting was also held on 5 May 2016. Apologies were received from Cr Mirfin and Cr Dowler, with Cr Higgins arriving late. All other councillors were present.
The agenda contained one item: the Notification of Draft Moturoa / Rabbit Island Reserve Management Plan.
Draft reserve management plan
Council resolved (by majority) to receive the draft Rabbit Island (Moturoa) Reserve management plan and publicly notify the public for objections and comments (public submissions) by Friday 8 July 2016.
The staff report states that it “summarises the key directions provided to us at the Council workshop on 11 February 2016”. However, in my opinion, that is not correct. My recollection of the workshop directions was for the draft plan to adopt a smart management (or a mixed use) approach to forestry and recreational use.
During those discussions I had suggested that updated signage and smart management practices would enable a shared use approach that over-came any health and safety concerns. Yet the draft before now the council clearly proposed a separation of forestry and recreational use (as was first presented to the workshop – and rejected).
When I asked why the draft had not reflected the directions of the workshop, I was advised a special committee of councillors (formed by the mayor) had reconsidered the workshop directions and had given additional weight to health and safety concerns. Basically, I was left with the impression that if the workshop did not endorse the preferred outcome of the mayor, another process would be added, to ensure it did.
To reassert the workshop direction, I suggested that additional dotted lines be added to the proposed map, showing other forestry tracks available for shared use for both cycling and forestry (eg Higgins Road, Bird Road, etc). At this point the usual suspects sought to rubber stamp the reworked draft proposal, by arguing that the proposed draft was fine, and that it still provided a shared area, with the coastal cycling track and Barnicoat Road loop option, and the extension of the mountain bike area alongside Conifer Park.
I found such an argument, to be blind to what was before them. Clearly the uses had been separated, contrary to the direction of the workshop, as cycling was now excluded from the centre of the forestry block, other than a single track that divided the two main forestry blocks.
Staff also added that council needed to manage the danger to the public by separating forest activities and recreational use, including the disposal of bio-solids in the area. They considered my proposed change wouldn’t be in the best interest of the commercial activities.
In my opinion, this staff observation showed that the focus of the reserve plan was not about managing the reserve as a whole, but preserving unimpeded management of the commercial activities. Effectively the management plan was merely a process to carve out the commercial activities.
Cr King also argued that he was not concerned with the final contents of the draft, as the community still had the opportunity to provide feedback? This argument found favour with a lot of councillors.
However, in my opinion, council should be putting the best proposal out for feedback, not relying on the community for feedback on a poor proposal. In my opinion, such arguments are made by people who rely on public apathy to slip through unsupported proposals. Its then easy for such a draft proposal to get rubber stamped by councillors, who prefer to rubber stamp motions, than put forward amended resolutions.
In my opinion, council needs to “show” it is acting in the communities best interests, and not invoke bad feeling from the community, by getting them to have to put in submissions to the contrary. Putting out a proposal that councillors know does not have public support, is just wrong on so many levels.
Fortunately, the public were quite concerned with what had been proposed in the draft plan. The massive volume of submissions (around 660 respondents) supporting a mixed use approach meant that the hearing panel (held on 1-2 August 2016) had to re-adopt the original workshop proposal – which provided for a shared use approach to all of the forestry blocks. I suspect the forthcoming elections (in October 2016) also had a part to play in the hearing panel’s recommendations to council.
For information about the consultation process, see: www.tasman.govt.nz/policy/public-consultation/completed-consultations/2016-consultations/moturoa-rabbit-island-reserve-management-plan-review/.
Agenda and minutes
The agenda and minutes are located at: www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/community-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/CommunityServicesCommittee/2016/2016-05-05.