A plan to improve existing boat and wharf facilities around Whitianga over the next few years has been given the go-ahead as part of a new Boat Ramp Strategy for Whitianga. It also takes into account the current and future needs of the wider Mercury Bay boating community. Why does Whitianga need a Boat Ramp Strategy? Whitianga is one of New Zealand's premier recreational fishing, diving and water sport destinations. With around 40 islands providing extensive coastline areas all of which hosts some of the best opportunities for pacific marine reserves, kaimoana gathering and some of the best safe boating in the country. Boating is becoming more accessible and New Zealanders are the third highest trailer boat owning nations per capita. Mercury Bay is a popular boating destination for residents and visitors. As boat trailers are proving more accessible so are larger tailer boats with the average size increasing to between 6 - 8 metres in length With the development of the Whitianga Boat Ramp Strategy, the conclusion is that no one site that will be able to provide a single Destination Boat Ramp facility. Instead we're looking at a number of boat ramp facilities in different locations collectively meeting the current and future demand. The Whitianga Boat Ramp Strategy takes into account:The increasing demand for local boat launching facilities within the area and the requirement to park the vehicle and trailer in close proximity to these facilities.Increasing demand over major peak period of the local boat launching facilities by ratepayers on holiday and visitors to the area.A number of commercial users operating from the existing Whitianga Wharf. Other peaks occur at long weekends and dates related to fishing and diving competitions and other festivals Proposed options for Whitianga Boat Ramps. 1 - Dundas St boat ramp. The plan is to widen the ramp and extend it into the water by 9m to give a total length of 33m, allowing for more vessels to launch there in all tides, by creating a double ramp with a centre pontoon. The ramp will incorporate a small breakwater to assist with shelter to launching and retrieving vessels and reduce sediment build up. Vehicle and trailer parking will be supported by the adjacent existing harbour-side reserve areas. Earlier this year the channel by the Dundas Street boat ramp was dug and surveyed to measure the impact of sediment control. Starboard channel markers had been installed and dredging has occurred which has made it easier already for boat launching and retrieval. 2 - Robinson Road boat ramp. The plan is to widen the ramp immediately adjacent to the existing ramp. The old ramp will remain unchanged. This will allow all users of the existing ramp facility to continue to use this as they always have while the new ramp will be at an appropriate grade to facilitate launching of larger vessels. The channel will be dredged from the ramp to the main river channel to enable all-tide use. There was insufficient funds within the approved budget to complete reclamation at either of the two sites. 3 - Whitianga WharfLong term the plan is to facilitate the objective of closing the Wharf boat ramp, so a third facility will most likely be required. However before a final decision is made the usage and demand for the upgraded ramps at Dundas Street and Robinson Road, along with on-going usage of the Wharf ramp, will be monitored to assess the capacity in relation to the usage. This will provide the information necessary to make a final determination on whether a third ramp is needed. The current proposal around a third ramp longer term is at the Esplanade northern reclamation. This would involve working with the Waikato Regional Council, Land Information NZ and Whitianga Marina Society to plan the reclamation of the area, between thz`e tip of the Whitianga Marina Northern Reclamation and the existing wharf boat ramp. The current proposal is for a double boat ramp with a pontoon to be developed along with additional car parking. However any planning around the reclamation would also need to be undertaken in conjunction with the Whitianga Town Centre upgrade project.so in the short-term thwere will be improvements to address pedestrian and traffic safety around the wharf and boat ramp, which are included in the Town Centre upgrade project. Stakeholder engagement Over the years we've also been in discussions with a number of different groups about future plans for our boat ramp facilities. We are currently reinstating a Stakeholders Working Group, which would be made up of interested persons from the recreational and commercial boating communities, iwi, Coastguard, Whitianga Waterways, the Marina Society, the Mercury Bay Business Association, Rugby and Tennis clubs, along with other stakeholders to get further feedback on the Boat Ramp Strategy and ensure the needs of various users are met. Proposed membership of this group includes:Mercury Bay:Community Board Members, iwi, Mercury Bay Fishing Club, Waikato Regional Council, (Harbourmaster), Marina Society \, Coastguard, Ferry Operator, Whitianga Waterways,Rugby and Tennis Clubs,Mercury Bay Business Association. There will be other affected parties who may not have a direct interest in the provision of boat ramp facilities but who would have an interest because the proposals would affectthem as a nearby property owner. If you want to get involved please email the Project Manager email@example.com Budget and project plan for Whitianga facilities. In our 2015-25 the Long Term Plan we have budget in the Mercury Bay Boat Ramp Project for boat ramp and harbour works. To date $135,552 has been spent on investigation, dredging and design work at the Dundas St and Robinson Rd boat ramps, leaving $621,448 for the balance of the work, including consents and construction. A further $112,000 is allocated in the 2018/19 year which would be used as funding for the detailed investigation; design etc. for the northern reclamation proposal if it proceeds. Budgets and project plans for other Mercury Bay facilities Purangi boat ramp. $178k is budgeted for a new launching pontoon and boat ramp improvements.,Matarangi boat ramp. $210k is budgeted for a new launching pontoon and boat ramp improvements.