SHARE
Heart and soul ... The future of Harbour St was a key topic at a heritage workshop. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

A major workshop has been held to discuss the future of Oamaru.

The Exploring Future Options workshop aimed to encourage heritage tourism stakeholders to get together and discuss ideas for the future of the town.

Dr Caroline Orchiston and post-graduate student Will Stovall, from the University of Otago, ran last week’s event in conjunction with Tracy Hatton, from Resilient Organisations.

People who attended the workshop included tenants from the Victorian precinct and members of the Waitaki District Council and Whitestone Civic Trust.

Mr Stovall thought it was ideal to get everyone in one room and encourage discussion.

“Their visions for the town might differ, but they were all passionate enough to show up and contribute to an overall discussion,” he said.

Stakeholders were presented with five hypothetical projects that could benefit Oamaru.

The projects were: the pedestrianisation of Harbour Street; the extension of the railway line; the installation of a proposed zipline; gaining world heritage status for Oamaru; and earthquake strengthening of heritage buildings.

The projects were then tested against three hypothetical situations to help determine which would stand up best against the scenarios if they happened in the near future.

The scenarios discussed among stakeholders included the decline of tourism in Oamaru, what would happen to the projects if a devastating earthquake struck the town, and how the projects would run if the tourism market remained the same.

“I think people had a really good time,” Mr Stovall said.

“We received a lot of really good feedback. I think it’s given us motivation to do something similar to this in the future.”

Results showed that stakeholders preferred the pedestrianisation of Harbour Street and Oamaru pushing for world heritage status – both of which could have major benefits to the town, he said.

Mr Stovall’s main focus now was to collate the results of the workshop.

There were no other specific projects in the works, but he hoped he would get the chance to work on similar things in North Otago.

Mr Stovall said he was a “big fan” of Oamaru and believed the town had a lot of potential.

“I think that Oamaru has a bright future,” he said.