A range of possible options for the renewal of Whakatane's commercial wharf are to be tested through the development of a detailed business case utilising The Treasury Better Business Case model.
A report received by the Whakatane District Council's Projects and Services Committee last week detailed the planned approach to the wharf renewal, which will include a consultation process with key stakeholders.
The report identified preliminary engagement has occurred with Te Runanga o Ngati Awa, Ngati Hokupu ki Wairaka and Ngati Awa Group Holdings Limited representatives, to identify significant issues of interest.
This will continue as part of the overall stakeholder engagement; and subsequently through resource consent consultation processes.
Council capital projects manager Jim Finlay says parts of the existing Commercial Wharf are between 78 and 100 years old and the concrete parts of the structure have deteriorated to a point where replacement is necessary within the next few years.
“We're also in a position where we do not have enough berths to meet demand.
“Our initial plan was to replace like with like, but that would not address the shortage of berths. Discussions with iwi and hapu also indicate a desire to re-establish a better visual connection between the Wairaka Marae and Mataatua, Te Manuka Tutahi and the Whakatane River. As a result, it's clearly timely to also look at other potential options which could better meet most stakeholders' needs.
“We're seeking a more holistic approach which could provide interconnections between the wharf renewal and other possible development proposals,” says Jim. “As a result, a number of options have been developed, based on the hydrological, engineering and other preliminary work done to date. Essential considerations include the significant cultural importance of the river environment; and the need to ensure that any development does not increase the risk of flooding.”
Hydraulic modelling work is being undertaken to evaluate the effects of the possible options on river flows and an economic impact assessment and geotechnical report will also be completed by June this year.
Development of the business case evaluation of the options, in conjunction with stakeholders, is expected to be completed by August and if approved by the Council, would be followed by detailed design and resource consent applications.
Assuming all of the required components are completed in the timeframe envisaged, construction of the new wharf could get underway by April 2020.
Jim says it's important the project timeframes are achieved.
“We're undertaking quarterly engineering inspections at present, which confirm parts of the wharf structure are continuing to deteriorate.
“While we're managing that through repairs and maintenance, from a health and safety perspective, it's critical that there are no delays in identifying and implementing the best replacement option.”