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By DAVID HILL

A proposed aqua play park could be up and running by October.

The Kaiapoi-Tuahiwi Community Board granted a licence to occupy to the WHoW Charitable Trust to operate an aqua play park in Courtenay Lake, Kaiapoi, at an extraordinary meeting on Monday evening.

The proposal is subject to the trust obtaining the necessary resource consents.

Trust deputy chairperson Jason Mill is hopeful the aqua play park could be operating in about three months.

“We’re really pleased.

“We’ve got three resource consents to apply for.

“It’s all drafted up, so now we can get them in and hopefully get on with it.”

He said the equipment and life jackets were “sitting in a shipping container” in Singapore, ready to be shipped to Kaiapoi, should the trust get the go ahead.

The trust requires land use and building consents from the Waimakariri District Council and a resource consent from Environment Canterbury (ECan).

Waimakariri District Council community and recreation manager Chris Brown said at the meeting 89 submissions were received during the recent consultation, with 71 percent supporting the project and 23% opposed.

The majority of submissions came from residents in the Kaiapoi-Tuahiwi Community Board area.

Among the concerns raised by submitters were water quality, the impact on wildlife including on breeding and spawning, traffic management and parking, noise and the risk of vandalism.

Mr Brown said the concerns would be addressed during the consent processes.

He said the trust had engaged an ecologist “to investigate the effects of the activity on the surrounding natural environment”.

It had also been working with ECan to assess the levels of E.coli in the lake, with 11 tests conducted to date.

“The amount of E.coli in the water is used as a way of measuring the suitability of the water for contact recreation (i.e. swimming),” Mr Brown said.

“At all times the water quality has remained within swimmable limits during the recent testing, even after significant rain events such as the flooding in late May.”

Members of the public attending the meeting were concern the aqua play park would restrict public use, but Mr Brown said a licence to occupy was not the same as a lease agreement.

“A licence is not sole use, so it will be available as it is now for walking the dog or enjoying the natural environment.”

The board approved a three year licence to the WHoW Charitable Trust, with the right of renewal.

It set a rent of $1 for the first year. The rental will be reviewed every 12 months.

While the licence will be held by the trust, day to day operations will be run by Aqualand New Zealand, a new business established by trustees and a private investor.

The trust has committed to engaging with local schools, Ngai Tuahuriri and the wider community, if the project is consented, to ensure the venture is a family friendly activity.