At a Capital Connection meeting held on 25 May 2015, Fran Wilde, the chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, advised the the regional council had now agreed to match the funding of Horizons Regional Council on condition that government came on board as a third party. The advocacy of the KCDC and individuals has worked. Well done everyone.
The news that the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC)is not going to help fund and therefore save the Capital Connection is very grim news for Otaki and our only rail link to Wellington. On the face of it Otaki has been let down by the very agency which should be supporting us and advocating for us. They claim that costs have escalated hugely and they will not fund the estimated $6m to save it. Fran Wilde says in the absence of government support ‘we can’t be the one left holding this $6m baby.’
While Horizons Regional Council have seen the value to all the various communities between Palmerston North and Wellington, GWRC insists that without government support it will not do the same.
While this may be a cunning strategy to force government’s hand, it is a very risky one and leaves Otaki as the only community within the greater Wellington area without any form of rail transport or other commuter travel options save the car or transport from Waikanae. Otaki will have no rail link north or south and its opportunities therefore diminish.
The Otaki Mail over the years has been vocal in its support of the Capital Connection. Many of our residents use it daily, for work, for play, to receive health care or simply to attend family matters as I did for a year. Importantly for Otaki, the Capital Connection is crucial for our economic survival to enable those people who choose to live here and work in the capital to remain in the workforce and also to contribute to the community’s wellbeing. It is all very well for our regional councillor, to lash out at the NZ Transport agency and at our own councillor Penny Gaylor when she quite reasonably asked the question ‘why is there no money in the ten year budget?’ He does us no service and over-played his politicking by decrying that KCDC had submitted a ‘small-minded submission’. We at the Otaki Mail are grateful that KCDC was advocating for Otaki; unlike GWRC which has failed Otaki by not including the Capital Connection in its Long Term Plan.
This decision by the Greater Wellington Regional Council isolates this community from the greater community which our rates support. The Otaki Mail says that along with the decision by NZ Land Transport and the government, GWRC’s decision is a poor short-sighted one nor is it a strategic one. We expected better of them and greater advocacy from our regional councillor. It is a shameful rejection of the needs of its furthermost north western community.
Otaki deserves better than that.