A new maritime rescue centre at Eely Point could be the difference between life and death in the event of an accident, a resource consent hearing was told at the Lake Wānaka Centre last Friday.
The current Coastguard Wānaka Lakes (CWL) rescue vessel was housed in a shed at the A&P showgrounds, and on occasion, the crew have had to drive all the way down Golf Course Rd and Orchard Rd to get to the marina in Lakeside Drive.
CWL president Jonathan Walmisley likened the coastguard to St John and Fire and Emergency. He said CWL averaged 20 operations a year and helped about 22 people a year back to shore.
The proposed Eely point site for the rescue centre would give the quickest response time for the volunteer crew and would not require the vessel to be towed across the busiest part of town.
A new rescue vessel was due to arrive next August. The new building could also accommodate the harbourmaster, the hearing was told.
Counsel for CWL Jenna Silcock said the application had attracted broad support from a range of individuals and organisations, including Eco Wānaka Adventures, the Guardians of Lake Wānaka, Wānaka Marina, the Wānaka Scout Group and Upper Clutha Environmental Society.
"Even the submitters in opposition support the concept of the rescue centre — just not in the proposed location," she said.
Silcock said a Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) report recommending consent be declined based on landscape and visual amenity effects had recommended amendments to the proposal to allow approval to be granted.
Silcock said seven of the nine recommendations had since been adopted.
"To date, we have complied with the wishes of the QLDC and those neighbours who have expressed an opinion regarding the suitability of potential sites and the identification of the current site," Walmisley said.
"We owe the marine rescue centre to those who use the lake both recreationally and commercially and to the volunteers who put themselves out there to help others."
A decision would be made before the end of October.
Read edition 993 of the Wānaka Sun here.