$10 charge at Gardens survives narrow vote

A $10 entry fee to the Hamilton Gardens will go out to public consultation after a narrow vote of approval during council 10-year plan deliberations last Thursday.

Mayor Andrew King had to use his casting vote as chairman to break the deadlock and put the fee out to the public consultation.

The fee will only be for the themed gardens. Residents of Hamilton will be free along with under 18s.

It was not a complete win for Mayor King's plan, as councillor Geoff Taylor amended the mayor's original motion by cutting 13 new gardens to four.

The original $18.273 million was also slashed to $9.3 million.

Councillor Geoff Taylor said he wanted to ease pressure on the budget but still show support for the gardens.

"I suggest taking a bit of a breather. The amount of funding in my amendment gives the gardens confidence and security that we are backing them," Mr Taylor said.

"I am not a supporter of charging for the gardens at this stage."

"I think there is a risk that we could kill the golden goose and I believe the community are happy to put $10 in at a targeted rate because they can see what they are paying for."

Councillor Dave Macpherson said it was unfair that people outside of Hamilton do not pay towards the gardens.

"I do think that it is time that we address the fact that only Hamiltonians are paying for something that is enjoyed by people outside of Hamilton," Mr Macpherson said.
The proposed Egyptian Garden for the Hamilton Gardens.
Councillor Angela O'Leary said that putting a charge on the garden would be a backward decision.

"I've never been in favour when we started this journey of putting an entry fee at the gardens," Ms O'Leary said.

Deputy Mayor Martin Gallagher said the amendment put forward by Geoff Taylor was a good one and he would put his support behind it.

"Whether this gets up tonight or not, I do think we need to address the issue of how non-Hamiltonians contribute towards things that Hamiltonians are," Mr Gallagher said.

"I do personally see an unfairness. I am a bit confused when people say if we charge $5 they won't come to the gardens."

Councillor Mark Bunting said Hamilton needs to be a place that people want to visit.

"If you are going to start charging people for our one world-class facility, which has been previously free, it is going to take something off that," Mr Bunting said.

Mr Taylor's motion to reduce funding for the Gardens was passed unanimously.

The motion to add a fee to the entrance of the gardens was a hung vote.

Those against were councillors O'Leary, Casson, Taylor, Bunting, Henry and Southgate.

Those for were Mayor Andrew King, Deputy Mayor Martin Gallagher and councillors Mallett, Tooman, Macpherson and Pascoe. Mayor King then used his casting vote to pass the motion.

From The Hamilton News