Coes Ford gates to ensure visitor safety

by Laurie Willetts

New gates have been installed at Coes Ford to help ensure the safety of visitors to the area during high river flow events.

The Selwyn District Council installed the gates after discussions with the local fire chiefs and residents of the area who were concerned that many visitors are unaware of the risks the Selwyn river poses during high river flows. Council asset manager, Murray Washington, said most locals were well aware that significant amounts of rain in the foothills can lead to high river flows in the Selwyn river, but that visitors to Selwyn are often not attuned to the associated risks.

“Many local residents know that flooding at Coes Ford can occur up to 12 hours after the rain has stopped in the foothills. However, visitors to our district cannot be expected to know that. The river can rise without any sign of rain at Coes Ford. The only way we can ensure visitors’ safety is by preventing them from crossing the ford during times of high flows, and moving them on from the camping area altogether during Civil Defence emergencies,” Mr Washington said.

Mr Washington acknowledged that when the gates were closed — this will mean locals will need to use alternative and often longer routes to travel into Christchurch City or to other parts of the district.

“We understand that this could be an inconvenience and we thank local residents in advance for their patience and support.”

The decision to close the Coes Ford gates will be based on Environment Canterbury river flow data, and only if significant rain in the foothills is likely to cause high and dangerous river flows.

Previously, during Civil Defence events, the camping areas of the Coes Ford campground could be gated off, but the ford itself could still be accessed.