An iwi leader says Whanganui District Council has made the right decision in prioritising the city's housing crisis over roofing its weather-racked velodrome.
The council dumped its $20m long-term plan proposal to save the 25-year-old velodrome yesterday in a 6-6 decision in which the mayor declined to use his casting vote.
Councillor Josh Chandulal-Mackay – born in 1995, the year the velodrome was built – says he struggled to make a decision and ultimately it came down to prioritisation and need. He says housing is the most pressing issue the community is dealing with in association with growth.
"It's not about one roof, it's about many roofs. It's about the issue of housing and I cannot justify the level of expenditure that we're proposing while only putting $4.2m into this budget for housing."
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Councillor Hadleigh Reid agreed but abstained from voting.
Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall, before voting against the roof, simply said: "Whanganui cannot afford $20m."
According to the council's standing orders, the tied vote means the motion was lost, and the mayor declined to use his casting vote.
Sports fanatic and Whanganui iwi leader Ken Mair says he understands the aspirations of the sporting community to save the venue, but the city's dire housing crisis has to take priority.
"The council have made the right decision. You're hearing the voices of some of our younger councillors coming through that are articulating with clarity that the needs of the community must come first. And I think that's great and we need to get on with the job of getting housing for our people that are in crisis."
Ken Mair says local iwi and the council have been talking about how to tackle the crisis.
"Discussions are happening in regard to housing needs for our people and for our community as a whole. We want to see quality houses and that, in this community, everybody has a right to a house."