Fox River's public toilet money diverted after Kaikoura Earthquake

By Teresa Smith

The existing Springs Junction public toilets are struggling to cope with the increased demand. Photo / File
The existing Springs Junction public toilets are struggling to cope with the increased demand. Photo / File

The Fox River community is sacrificing its recently announced public toilet funding to help with earthquake relief.

Six days before the 7.8 magnitude quake hit on November 14, Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett announced 14 tourism infrastructure projects around the country would receive $3.05 million in Government co-funding.

The list included an award of $212,220 to Buller District Council for toilets and an effluent system at Fox River.

At the time Buller Mayor Garry Howard said it was good news for Fox River but he was disappointed that a similar application for Springs Junction had missed out.

The quake closed State Highway 1 from Cheviot to Kaikoura and Kaikoura to Seddon. Since then a large amount of traffic has been diverted via the Lewis Pass to SH7, passing through Springs Junction.

Council chief executive Andy Gowland-Douglas said the existing Springs Junction public toilets were struggling to cope with the increased demand.

The council currently pays an annual fee for servicing and maintenance of two toilets at the Springs Junction service station (Gas Alley - Lewis Pass).

She said that in response to the huge increase in demand the council was now working with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to install another toilet facility.

This might be located next to the existing toilets although details were still being finalised.

However, Gowland-Douglas said this would mean transferring the funds granted to Fox River to Springs Junction.

Ross Smith, from Fox River, said the council had explained the problem to them. The local community was happy to contribute in its own way to quake relief, he said.

He understood from the council that it would reapply for funding for Fox River amenities in the next round of the Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund.

Smith said there were some benefits for Fox River as the community had had reservations about the style of toilet which was to have gone in.

"This is a wilderness situation and we're trying to preserve wilderness values. You step out of your car and you're in the wild and that's how we'd like to keep it, we don't think an Exaloo fits into that."

He said ideally they would like something like the Constant Bay toilets or the ones at Omau carpark.

"A straightforward hole in ground that's suck-outable and a tap for hand washing. It doesn't have to be as elaborate as Tauranga Bay."

Smith said the loss of the funding would give the community time to put its values across to council and possibly save some money.

He hoped to involve a local expert in sewerage and grey water systems in the discussions for the next application for toilet funding.

- Westport News

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