Funding for recreational cycle paths

The following question arose in Hamilton: Can recreational cycle paths attract funding (subsidy) from the NZTA?

NZTA (NZ Transport Agency) is the government land transport funding agency, they were  formerly LTNZ, and prior to that Transfund, just in case you know them by their old names.

So, can those recreational facilities be subsidised? Strictly speaking no, because government has strange rules. They fund recreational roads (e.g. SH1 to Cape Reinga, or SH94 to Milford Sound), but not recreational pathways. 

So when can pathways get subsidised? A few rules apply:

  • There needs to be some commuting component,
  • The project needs to be identified in an approved (walking and) cycling strategy,
  • The project needs to be listed in an LTCCP (long term council community plan), and
  • An 'approved organisation' needs to apply for the subsidy.

So what's an approved organisation? Well, road controlling authorities are (district and city councils, and the part of NZTA that looks after state highways), and DoC.

The normal course of events is that a district or city council puts money into their budget (LTCCP), the project meets the criteria for subsidy, and NZTA hands over the government funding (between 40 and 60% of the cost - each local authority has its own 'financial assistance rate').

Here's the not so normal way of doing it:

  • Convince your council to include the project in their LTCCP,
  • fundraise Council's share (or part thereof),
  • Hand over the funds to council.

Council can then apply for subsidy. If they get it, then it's possible that the council hasn't put any of their own money into making the project happen. Council's portion got fundraised by the community, and NZTA is not interested where council gets the funds from.

The Prebbleton to Lincoln part of the Christchurch to Little River rail trail has been established using this procedure. It's a way of making things happen when council's aren't committed enough to make things happen themselves.

Another way to look at it is that it makes community funded projects a lot cheaper for the community, as about half of the cost comes from government. But as I say, it needs some commuting component for this to work.