Battle looms over proposed watersports base

An architect's impression of the proposed Wanaka Watersports Facility. Image supplied.
An architect's impression of the proposed Wanaka Watersports Facility. Image supplied.
Another battle over buildings on Wanaka's lakefront is looming, as those behind a proposed watersports facility step up their campaign to garner public support.

The Wanaka Watersports Facility Trust, which wants to build a 420sq m facility for lake users in the southwestern corner of Roys Bay, launched its fundraising ''Foundation Club'' in Wanaka last night.

The trust is urging multisport athletes, swimmers, rowers and recreational beach users to donate to the Foundation Club or make submissions supporting the facility to the Queenstown Lakes District Council's draft Wanaka lakefront reserves management plan.

However, objections to the building, which is expected to cost between $750,000 and $1 million, are also being raised through the plan's public consultation process, which closes on June 6.

The chairman of the watersports trust, Michael Sidey, said the Foundation Club aimed to raise $25,000 to pay for professional services needed to progress the project such as architects, planners and lawyers.

Trustees had contributed $7000 to start the fund.

He said Wanaka had produced champion multisport athletes, Maadi Cup medallists and ''record-breaking'' lake swimmers, yet there was no suitable lakeside facility for those people, or for recreational beach users.

''This facility will ultimately have a positive flow-on effect to the local economy; it supports Wanaka's growing multisport destination industry.

''It's a big thing for Wanaka to try and build something that's on the lake, we understand all that, so that's the reason we're doing it the best we can and that's the reason for the Foundation Club.''

The trust was formed last September after the Wanaka Rowing Club tried unsuccessfully over several years to find a suitable lakeside site to build a boat shed.

Eight different sites were considered and ultimately rejected, in part because of opposition from lakefront reserve neighbours.

Some of those original objectors told the Otago Daily Times yesterday they were submitting against the latest proposal, including Lyall Shearer and Grant Proudfoot, of Timaru, who both own properties in Mt Aspiring Rd.

Mr Shearer said while the watersports facility was no longer proposed in front of his holiday home, he was still opposed to ''built form'' on the lakefront.

Mr Proudfoot, a former Timaru Rowing Club secretary, agreed no buildings should be allowed on the lakefront west of the town centre to Glendhu Bay and any building close to residential properties was ''a recipe for disaster'', as it would always attract objections.

''Council should actually be getting someone completely independent ... to suggest what the best sites would be, without any axes to grind, if you like, or interests in the particular area.''

Additionally, the sometimes shallow southwestern corner of the bay was impractical for launching rowing boats and for swimmers, there was potential for collisions with skiffs piloted by rear-facing rowers.

The trust had ruled out building the complex near the Wanaka Showgrounds because of the dangers of crossing the road, particularly as Wanaka grew and traffic increased, Mr Sidey said.

An animation video of the trust's planned facility created by Dunedin's Ian Taylor, of Animation Research Ltd, was screened at last night's function to ''show the reality of what we're trying to achieve and, hopefully, assist the argument'', Mr Sidey said.

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