I am reflecting on our LOCA meeting on Tuesday which was the most exciting meeting that I have participated in as we considered some initiatives that will go a long way towards achieving the strategic plan that this committee agreed to in 2017. I will outline what is unfolding in this newsletter. This is a long read – but a lot is happening.
Tourism Infrastructure Fund
We enjoy an excellent relationship with the Council and the Lakes Community Board. Rotorua Lakes Council (RLC) notified us of the opening of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund (TIF). This fund opened on the 15th April 2018 and closes on the 14th May – we had a month to get into action if we wanted to make an application to the fund.
RLC clarified to us that the purpose of the fund was not to encourage additional tourists to any particular destination but rather was to assist communities where existing facilities needed improvement to cope with current visitor numbers. This reassured your committee as we do not believe that our lake can cope with a significant increase in visitor numbers. RLC have been clear that they do not want to see increased numbers using the Boyes Beach Camping area as the area is not large enough to cope with any growth.
In our strategic plan we have included the following initiatives:
- Improve toilets and other facilities at our key visitor places – Boyes Beach, Boat Ramp, Waka Ama and DOC Campground
- Complete the walking track around the lake
We wondered whether some of these initiatives would be appropriate to apply for funding from the TIF.
Completion of the walking track
The extension of the walking track along the Northern slopes of Lake Okareka – using the old existing track through DOC land– was a project that was committed to by earlier committees however has not been completed. There was strong community support for this project.
We have been concerned about the ability of the volunteer base to complete this part of the track as it crosses steep and potentially dangerous terrain. A new approach needs to be considered.
We decided to make the completion of the walking track a focus for an application to the TIF. We have sought a price from a professional track building company to build the track. The cost of doing this work will be just over $200,000 (plus GST). Your committee started to put a lot of work into preparing an application to the TIF.
Improved facilities at Boyes Beach
RLC advised us that they have been thinking of enhancing the facilities at Boyes Beach however an application to TIF would allow them to expedite this work – if the application was successful.
At this stage the proposal is still conceptual however they needed our support for the application if it was to proceed. If the application is successful they have undertaken to make more details available and we will be able to present these to you at a community consultation meeting.
Boat Ramp and Acacia Road Toilets
Members of our committee (particularly Mike Rayner) have been in ongoing discussions with the RLC about the need to improve and refurbish the boat ramp area at Acacia Road. Improvements are in the RLC Long Term Plan but there is no set timetable as to when these will occur. RLC decided to include these improvements in the application to the TIF - and if successful then work could start fairly quickly. What is being thought about at the moment for the application includes:
- Renewal of the existing boat ramp and the extension of the existing jetty with a T end
- Renewal of the existing boat ramps to create a ramp that is three bays wide
- Construction of a new jetty to relieve congestion when boats are being launched and retrieved
- Upgrading of the existing toilet block
Once again the details are not available and if the application is successful then detailed plans will be worked upon and these will be presented at a community consultation.
A joint proposal
This has been a fast developing scenario and your committee has been working hard to prepare for a submission that was made on Friday 11th May 2018.
At a meeting on the 7th May 2018 the RLC proposed that they thought we would have the best chance of success with our application if it was a joint application including all of the projects above.
They proposed that the application be submitted in the form summarised in the table below:
After considerable discussion the following motion was unanimously passed by your LOCA Committee.
- LOCA agrees to be part of the application being made by Lakes District Council to the Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
- LOCA agrees to contribute $101,000 towards the construction of the Okareka Walkway extension. Consultation with the community is to be carried out should the application be successful.
- LOCA agrees to contribute $50,000 towards the Boyes Beach Ablution Block upgrade. Consultation with the community is to be carried out should the application be successful.
We were excited about the potential that this application presents to significantly progress the strategic plan. We are mindful that the application may not succeed however even if it does not we have signalled to RLC our serious desire to work closely with them to improve the facilities at our lake. At the least we would hope that our application would put our community at the top of the list for future funding.
We will not hear the outcome of our application until sometime in August. If successful – or even partially successful – we will then work with RLC to develop the final proposals. When these are complete we will have another opportunity for a “cuppa” together as we hold a meeting with RLC to present the plans and get your feedback.
This is an exciting opportunity!
At the beginning of the year we committed to improving the frequency of our communication with the wider community. We have communicated through:
- Our email list – emails on specific subjects and my “Chair person’s email”
- Our Facebook page
- Community meetings – the meetings on the RLC Strategic Plan and Water Quality were a great success and demonstrated how our community loves to get together and engage on issues involving where we live.
Remember to keep encouraging your committee members as they do great work for us all. We love to hear back from you so talk to committee members about what occurs to you.
I am very happy to talk to you about what we are working on. My phone number is 021 991313. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force
We have been in touch with the Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force and have offered to assist them with community consultation in any way that we can. This is not a LOCA project however we believe that the community needs the opportunity to be consulted on the proposed new fire station and we are hopeful that we will all hear about a community consultation soon.
Lake Water Quality
Colin Jackson leads this sub group of our committee and he has been very busy (with others) establishing a strategy in conjunction with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) to deal with the threat that catfish incursion presents to our lake. Attached to this newsletter is a report provided by the BOPRC. Prevention of spread to all the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes is very important and at the forefront of their, and our, thinking. As plans are developed further the water quality group will be in touch with you.
In the meantime discussions continue with BOPRC regarding ongoing steps that can be taken to improve our water quality.
Pest Free Okareka
Mike Vincent leads the team that is advancing this important part of our strategic plan. We have committed to a strategy of back yard trapping in the first instance. We are now seeking people who are prepared to be “Street champions” to advocate the installation of traps at every other property in their location.
We decided to do an inventory of the number and type of traps that will be needed to provide complete coverage in the village area. We will then seek funding for any further traps that we need to acquire.
If you are prepared to be a “street champion” or need some traps in your area please be in touch with Mike.
Debbie Surtees and her team have done a fantastic job of overseeing the smooth running of our camps at the DOC camping ground and Boyes Beach. These camps are at capacity during the high season and we are not seeking to expand them.
Over the next month or so we will be in discussions with DOC and the RLC about the renewal of our contracts with them. Funds from running these camps provide valuable income for LOCA to reinvest in our community.
We will be working on a position description for someone to be employed or contracted to work on the many tasks associated with running the camps. This will include the “camp host” role and the collection of fees from the campers. More about that when the position description has been developed.
Debbie has signalled her need to step away from leading this team in August 2018. She will remain an important part of the Camp team going forward. We all appreciate Debbie’s leadership and hard work in this demanding role.
I am pleased to advise that the committee agreed to co-opt Andy Bell to the committee until the next AGM.
Andy and Gillian are long-standing members of our community and have recently moved to the “rarified air” of Steep Street.
Andy has agreed to take over the leadership of the Camp group from August. He will continue to be supported by Debbie and the other group members.
In our strategic plan we committed to working positively with key stakeholders who have an interest in Lake Okareka. In particular we acknowledge local iwi.
I have been in discussion with some representatives of Te Au Rere Waka Ama Club and the Te Waiariki Purea Trust. The committee agreed to establish another subgroup who will take responsibility for building these important relationships. I will lead this group.
The Whaka Ama teams add a wonderful dimension to our community’s life and here is an email that I received that outlines their aspirations:
Te Au Rere Waka Ama Club have grown over the past 5 years with new members coming on board, new equipment such as an extra container for storage as well as single W1 waka and new W6 waka. We have also needed to bring in extra waka as needed to better manage team trainings for our members.
Te Au Rere Waka Ama Club has maintained at least 5-7 teams of 6 paddlers with approximately 45 members plus financial members of between 10-15. Our paddlers are aged 5-50 years old and we have midgets through to Master Women. Depending on the upcoming competitions, we have variation of different age divisions. If there are not enough paddlers for a particular division then paddlers will sort another club.
This year, our J16 girls, J19 men and 2 crews from Master Women, will travel to Tahiti at the end of July to compete at the World Sprint Champs. Our clubs often work with other clubs such as Hei Matau (Rotorua based) and Ruamata (Rotorua based) but we have also strengthened to become strong enough to couple with experienced experts like Mareikura and Horouta (both Gisborne based). We are very excited about these partnerships and we are looking forward to learning new things from each other.
If you have read to here you have done very well and thoroughly deserve a coffee. Remember we like to hear your feedback – keep in touch
Chairperson 021 991313