$137,348 spent on hydroslide issue

The Queenstown Lakes District Council spent more than $130,000 during the three-year arbitration process to come to an agreement over Lakes Leisure's fast hydroslide.

Figures released to the Otago Daily Times yesterday, following a request under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, show the council spent $137,348 on the matter from late 2009 to September 30 this year.

Of that, $105,492 was spent on legal and arbitration costs, which peaked in the 2011-12 financial year, when $52,115 was spent.

The remaining $31,856 was attributed to staff costs.

Project manager Ken Gousmett said staff costs were identified on timesheets by project, "not by task for each project".

"The staff cost attributed to the fast slide arbitration is salary and overheads, but is not an additional cost to council as it is already budgeted in full," Mr Gousmett said.

The arbitration notice for the matter was filed in December 2009. However, preparation work began before that and those costs had been included in figures released to the ODT.

The dispute over the safety of the fast hydroslide - one of two included in the $18 million Alpine Aqualand development at the Queenstown Events Centre - was resolved in a public-excluded session of last month's full council meeting.

The slide was closed briefly in December 2008 after 69 patrons reported minor injuries, the majority caused by users breaking safety rules.

After intermittent closures, it ceased operating in June 2009 after a woman suffered a concussion and shoulder injury while using it.

The Department of Labour investigated the woman's complaint, but decided in November 2009 not to prosecute.

Following the conclusion of the arbitration - between the council, on behalf of Lakes Leisure Ltd; Naylor Love, the building company given the contract to construct the hydroslide; and Timaru manufacturer Aeromarine Industries Ltd, a subcontractor responsible for the design, building and safe operation of the two hydroslides - the fast slide would be modified to "cater to a wider demographic of users".

In 2009, the ODT quoted Mr Gousmett saying the slide would be fixed at "no cost to the public, the council or Alpine Aqualand" as it was under a full 12-month warranty.

However, when asked, Mr Gousmett said the council could not confirm that was still the case.

"The question goes to the outcome of the arbitration which is subject to confidentiality."

The council intended to have the fast hydroslide open for the summer holidays, "we hope before Christmas".