After the summer devastation, the municipality wants to allow more parking spaces for boats

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The influx of boaties created a constant traffic jam and congestion in the water
Photo: Delivered

Marlborough council has decided to allow extra parking space for boats wanting to leave Picton, but some councilors are questioning whether that will be enough.

The shortage of parking spaces wreaked havoc over the past Christmas and New Year period, forcing the police, Port Marlborough and Marlborough District Council to respond to the issue.

The influx of boaties created a constant traffic jam and congestion in the water as people had to moor their boats while someone went to find a park. Others also parked in residential driveways.

Part of the problem was caused after the Victoria Domain Reserves Management Plan, passed in June 2021, banned vehicles from grassy open spaces unless otherwise agreed for things like maintenance activities or events.

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This therefore reduced the amount of parking available because boats could not park at Memorial Park in Picton, next to the marina.

It meant that the council agreed to go back to the drawing board and revisit the plan a year after it was passed with a proposal to allow more space, and reopen Memorial Park to parking during peak periods.

A shortage of parking spaces in Picton over the Christmas and New Year period forced the council to go back to the drawing board for its backup plan.

A shortage of parking spaces in Picton over the Christmas and New Year period forced the council to go back to the drawing board for its backup plan.
Photo: Delivered

A hearing committee, consisting of Marlborough Mayor Nadine Taylor, who was deputy mayor at the time, and former council members Cynthia Brooks and Michael Fitzpatrick, met again in September to hear comments on the management plan.

A report prepared last week for the council’s assets and services committee said 40 people submitted the proposed amendment, six of whom spoke to them during the hearings. No one was against the proposed changes.

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The report said following the hearing that the panel also proposed “secure” a helicopter landing site. To make this possible, stakes are placed around a designated area.

Space would be available on the east side of Memorial Park to ensure walking and biking access is not impeded, and the north side would be available for recreational users. The council’s parking reservation system would be used to help manage the process.

Jamie Lyall, the borough’s property and community facilities manager, told councilors at the meeting last week that the greater area was being trialled over Easter, which “worked well”.

“We got a lot of compliments from the community,” he said.

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Marlborough Sounds ward councilor Ben Minehan said he managed to get the last park in Picton by Christmas.

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“I’ve never seen Picton Marina so full,” said Minehan. “I’m a little worried it won’t go far enough.”

Similarly, Marlborough Sounds ward councilor Barbara Faulls said that while the move was positive, she was concerned that they still hadn’t reserved enough parking spaces for the Christmas season.

Lyall said the hearing panel questioned Port Marlborough “extensively” about this.

He said their response was that they were “quite comfortable” they could meet 97 percent of the parking demand.

“What they need to do is work with Waikawa Marina,” he said.

He said a lot of work was also being done to track how long people queued waiting to get in and out of the water.

Local democracy reporting is public interest journalism funded through NZ On Air

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