I thought it important to update the community on the current status of the velodrome roofing project, as people keep asking me what is happening, whether we received Government support and why this project has dragged out so long.
In brief, the council submitted a $26.3 million shovel-ready project application and although there is no indication of support for that yet, the council and mayor continue to seek Government support for this cornerstone project, seen as a deteriorating asset, not too dissimilar to the port and Sarjeant Gallery.
I am very pleased that this council recently re-affirmed its support for the project, with a unanimous resolution carried at the recent 2020-21 Annual Plan deliberations, saying "Council supports roofing the velodrome, reconfirming its $1 million commitment, awaits the June 2020 Independent Report and is open to reconsideration of further financial support of this project".
A council working party has engaged an independent consultant, Steve Bramley from SGL Funding Ltd, to review the project to date and provide clear advice on the business case, design fit-for-purpose and cost estimates for the proposal developed to date by the Regional Velodrome Development Trust and options for an affordable way forward.
That report is all but complete and the council is awaiting an opportunity to discuss it with the consultant, decide next steps and provide a public report to the council ASAP.
I don't think anyone would argue that this project has dragged on too long and it is clear this key asset, as the first world class 250m wooden velodrome in New Zealand, should have been roofed at the time.
There have been numerous efforts since to roof it and a very passionate and committed group of individuals, outside of council have worked long and hard to keep this project alive.
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I can confirm that very little rates funding has been spent on this project to date, with most funds that the Regional Velodrome Development Trust has spent coming from a 4 Regions Trust Grant or their own supporters. Sport New Zealand has also paid for some consultant work to date.
I may not be confident exactly what the scope of this project will be at present but I am very confident that this council will commit to finally protecting the asset and roofing the velodrome, and know it can have widespread use, outside of cycling, as have all variety of roofed velodromes in the world.
• Councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan is chairwoman of the Velodrome Project Control Group and chair of the Whanganui District Council Sport and Recreation Working Party.