Pandas for Wellington is a fantasy

Stuff reports:

Plans to bring giant pandas to Wellington are a “fantasy” and the bill should put a halt on the idea, a Wellington City councillor says.

Wellington City Council will investigate a business case to bring the endangered animals from China to Wellington Zoo, it was announced on Friday. An initial “guesstimate” put the cost at $10 million, but the upcoming work would determine the exact costs and infrastructure requirements, as well as projected visitor numbers.

But Wellington City Councillor Paul Eagle said it was “fantasy stuff” to believe the council had the funds necessary to make the idea a reality. He doubted the $10m figure, saying number-crunching on a 2011 panda plan put the capital cost at $28m.

“But the 2015, 2016, 2017 figures would be $50m to $100m … If these [pandas] are so huge, would we have to close down Newtown Park, demolish that and build a car park? What’s going to happen to all the city streets, have we factored in road widening, pulling out all the car parks?”

Eagle said, even with external financial support, the plan could cost ratepayers significantly. “We’re prepared to build palaces for pandas over the core services.”

While he thought it would be exciting to have such animals in the zoo, there was little point in even completing a business case. “I’d say we’re just wasting time.”

I agree. I like pandas but I also like affordable rates. Focus on core issues.

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