Spruce-up coming for lakefront at Old Cromwell

by Kim Bowden - Apr 12, 2023

Cromwell locals are being invited to one of two community workshops to map out potential ideas to spruce up the lake edge around the town’s heritage precinct.

It is part of new obligations on Contact Energy, outlined in the latest management plan for the Kawarau Arm of Lake Dunstan.

Contact Energy’s Neil Gillespie says it has “agreed to collaborate with the community to co-design and undertake a project to enhance the Old Cromwell area”.

The workshops, set for two different time slots this Sunday, are the design step, which will be followed by feasibility work to determine what is actually able to be implemented, he says.

The deadline for the plan is October, and although the workshops and the creation of the plan will be funded by Contact Energy, it is unclear who will be charged with turning the plan into reality.

For now, it is said the plan will be “implemented over time by a number of different stakeholders”.

John Glover of Shaping our Future, who is facilitating the workshops, says people have already engaged in recent years in consultation on community aspirations for the lake, and this project is a chance to move some of those ideas forward at this location.

Workshop participants will be presented with a summary of what’s previously been said and the task in hand will be to look at large aerial images of the area and work out what could go where.

The “wish list” is wide ranging and includes pontoons, swimming areas, playgrounds, performance areas, museum outposts and areas for market stalls.

The area being mapped stretches from the junction of the Clutha/Mata-Au and Kawarau Rivers to the Butcher’s Drive boat ramp.

It makes sense to have local people involved in the plan development as they understand the area, know what will and won’t work, and are invested, he says.

“You don’t need consultants coming down from Auckland or Wellington to come up with a design that has pictures of corten steel and schist.”

Rather, people out and about in the area know "where the shade trees should go", he says.

The project is being welcomed by local lake guardians, who have long campaigned for more to be done to manage the effects of the Clyde Dam on the lake. 

One of the Lake Dunstan Charitable Trust’s main beefs: Contact Energy’s weak Landscape and Visual Amenity Management Plan (LVAMP) for the Kawarau Arm of the lake, a requirement of its resource consent conditions for the dam.

Is there a better use for the parking lot at the Butcher's Road boat ramp carpark? The section of the lake out front has silted up to the point that it's infeasible for many boaties to use it as a launch spot, and the car park often sits empty.

After years of delays, the latest version of the management plan was finally signed off by consenting authority the Otago Regional Council in March, and the trust is happy with how the energy provider has stepped up, committing to doing more to look after the section of lake the plan covers. 

“I can say with confidence that ORC and Contact Energy have come a long way since our early challenges regarding the basics of what should be included in the LVAMP and the community’s expectations,” rust chair Duncan Faulkner says.

“They (Contact Energy) have shown through their recent actions that they are genuine in their commitment to being a good neighbour."

“Making change within large corporations and government agencies takes a lot of time and energy, and there is still a lot more work to do. Later this year we will see the unveiling of the new resource consent conditions for Contact Energy for the Kawarau Arm, which will add another layer of long-term commitment.”

Mr Glover says during earlier community workshops he has facilitated, local lake users when queried on what they perceive to be the biggest issues for the lake have pointed to Contact Energy. 

“Contact was right up there in big letters…there was a lot of frustration, lack of trust, cynicism, that was expressed."

It is his view Contact Energy has taken this sentiment onboard.

“I think they, as an organisation, want to try and be part of the solution.”

But, there is no silver bullet for all the lake’s problems, he says, managing people's expectations.

“They won’t be able to provide, I don’t think, a solution that some people would like, which would be probably endless dredging of the Kawarau Arm, because they wouldn’t think that is practical or within their responsibility.”

Every year an average one-million cubic metres of sediment accumulates in the Kawarau Arm of Lake Dunstan - as much concrete as was used to build the 100-metre-high Clyde Dam - according to surveys by Contact Energy. 

Keen to be involved in Contact Energy’s latest planning project for the lakeshore at Old Crowmell?

Two workshops are being held to make the exercise more accessible to the community. The first is from 2pm until 4pm and the second, 7pm until 9pm, both at the Gate, with refreshments provided.


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