A Coastal Walkway of Value
The Dunedin Amenities Society have a long association with the City’s coastline and in particular Ocean Beach Domain. The long running issue at John Wilson Drive has been one that the Society have commented on regularly and will keep a watching brief as the City goes into Annual Plan mode. It has always been the Society’s position that the Drive should remain closed to vehicles and that the present placement of barriers on the Drive represents the best compromise between recreational and vehicular interests. Part of that reasoning has been around the need to protect the coastal defences found in sand dunes in order to ultimately protect the city from inundation and flooding by the sea. What is perturbing about the Drive issue is the willingness of the City Council to spend a significant sum of money ($400,000 at last count) in order to rectify the traffic and vehicle access issues. The Society believe that at a fraction of the cost there is a far better alternative that would create a more sustainable environmental and economic gain for the city. This could be achieved by the wider linkage of our coastal areas and the need to create coherent recreational assets that meet the demands of our community and visitors. With this in mind the Society sees a very real opportunity brought about by the changes in vehicular access at John Wilson Drive to link the coastal reserves with the Otago Peninsula and create a new recreational gateway to the area. Physically, the walkway option is almost entirely in place, but lacks any investment in promotion and interpretation for visitors and locals alike. Our coastal areas have a rich ecological, social, cultural and historic story that we should be sharing with a much broader audience. The Society’s walkway proposal needs some refinement and further thoughts on its implementation, but it offers much better sustainable value to our City than barrier arms and traffic calming measures.