PGF support for trail welcomed

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JACK CONROY@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

Clutha business owners have responded with elation to last week’s announcement of a $7 million Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investment in Otago that would support the extension of the Clutha Gold Great Ride Cycle Trail.

When completed, the trail will have grown from 73km to a total of 136km, with the new section running from Lawrence, via Milton, all the way to Waihola.

Lake Waihola Holiday Park operator Pete Michelle said: “That’s awesome. It would be really good for us and I think it would be great for the whole district. It should bring a lot more people through.”

Milton-based Asure Accommodation operator Robbie Philip was also pleased.

“I think it’s bloody great news,”

“It’s got to be a huge benefit for the whole town. This town has a lot to offer.”

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said to be able to work in tandem with the Government to realise the dream of this cycle trail was a “tonic” not only to Clutha, but to the wider Otago region.

“Thanks to the PGF we will now have an exciting cycle experience linking Queenstown to coastal Otago and creating a whole new experience for tourists and locals alike.

“It shows a tangible link between heartland New Zealand and central government and a clear message of support for key projects that will enable the South to take advantage of opportunities that otherwise would never come to fruition.”

It was estimated that the construction of an additional 63km of trail would require 62 workers over what could be a three-year construction phase.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones was optimistic about the level of use the trail will receive down south.

“The South Islanders I know are very hearty, very hard, and they use their outside environment a hell of a lot more than people do in Auckland, that’s for sure.”

And he was keen to see work start on the trail as soon as possible.

“I have said to the PGF bureaucracy that once we make decisions now, there has to be tighter timeframes, we need to see tighter timeframes.

“I’m going to put a lot of pressure on .. I want to see picks and shovels.”

Clutha Gold Trail Charitable Trust chairman Murray Paterson was optimistic about the timeframe for constructing the trail.

“There is a lot of consultation to go through. Realistically, it’s hard to see it being finished within two years .. but we certainly would like to be finished by the end of next year.”

Other projects in the Otago region gaining a financial boost from the PGF fund will be:

Construction workforce modelling (Dunedin City Council) – $250,000

SH1 Rosebank Industrial Estate slip lane (Clutha District Council) – $218,000

Scoping of new and advanced wood fire technology (Escrea Limited) – $96,000

Economic Impact Assessment of an adventure park in Cromwell (Big Daddy Adventures Limited) – $20,000.