Foreshore e-bike rental a no-go

LandEscape rents out 80 e-bikes from its hub at Hāwea Flat. Credit: Rachel Matheson

A proposal to establish an e-bike rental on the Lake Wānaka foreshore has been denied consent by the council.

LandEscape applied to operate out of a food/coffee caravan on the recreational reserve beside the Mt Aspiring car park but was told the foreshore was at “commercial capacity,”

LandEscape already operates an e-bike and hot-tub rental business on 115ha near Hāwea Flat, and has 80 e-bikes. Batteries for the bikes are strategically placed at hubs around the trails. LandEscape also provides shuttles to and from clients accommodation.

LandEscape owner Rik Deaton was convinced his e-bike business proposal would benefit the community saying the concept was to “promote active sightseeing by e-bike.”

“Initially we wanted to use the coffee caravan with outdoor seating as a ‘focal point’ where test rides and safety briefings could happen,” he said.

The lakefront reserve would give the ability to keep delivering more bikes through the day.

People could start from the lakefront and do a battery swap at the property at Hāwea Flat or the Albert Town bridge.

Deaton initially went to the Wānaka Community Board in September last year and submitted the proposal, stating his company needed a base for operations in town.

The proposal was for “active sightseeing and transport” around the cycle trails during the day.

The Community Board members said it was a “great idea,” and within the Lakefront Management Plan, and advised Deaton to apply for a coffee caravan license, and add the e-bikes to it. It would be approved, he was told.

On the basis of this, LandEscape employed a professional planner and applied to the QLDC for the licence to operate on the Roys Bay foreshore.

It was a comprehensive strategy to replace sightseeing visitors’ cars and motorhomes by providing “a viable and desirable alternative for sightseers”, he said and was consistent with council’s stated objective to encourage active transport.

But Deaton’s application wasn’t supported by council Senior Parks and Reserves Planner Aaron Burt.

“Council, out of hand and without even a letter of rejection, gave us a verbal no,” Deaton said.

“They said it ‘doesn’t fit with our plans for the lakefront reserve.’

“There was not a shred of a reason given to the rejection other than that the LandEscape activity suggested would limit the ability of the public to enjoy the reserve in the area sought,” Deaton said.

“One person made the decision. There was no process to look at the benefits of our proposal.”

“We had already set up a shop in town at this stage, so all in all this cost us around $50,000 down the drain, courtesy of QLDC. We don’t like QLDC.’

Deaton then took his concerns to the Wānaka Community Board on November 5, in a 19-page submission but was declined the opportunity to present his case during a public forum, on the grounds his statement would have exceeded the allocated three-minute timeframe

“It was a very detailed submission on how we would operate and the benefits of active transport,” he said.

“So that’s where we are at.”

“We have launched a petition on our website, and in the next few weeks we will be intensively lobbying- we are going to ask the community what they think.”

When approached by the Sun Burt responded: “The suggested activity would limit the ability of the public to enjoy the reserve in the area – such an activity could instead utilise a commercial premises in the CBD to operate its business.

“The purpose of recreation reserves is to provide areas for the recreation, physical welfare and enjoyment of the public. Commercial uses can on occasion be allowed where necessary to enable the public to obtain the benefit and enjoyment of the reserve, or for the convenience of persons using the reserve. “Reserve Management Plans assist with the consideration, and if an activity is specifically provided under an RMP then notification can sometimes be avoided.

“The suggested activity would limit the ability of the public to enjoy the reserve in the area – such an activity could instead utilise a commercial premises in the CBD to operate its business.”

Read edition 1002 of the Wānaka Sun here.


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