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Achieved a lot . . . Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust chairman Graeme Clark is proud of how much has been achieved in Oamaru's Victorian Precinct. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Oamaru is preparing to enter the race for a slice of the Government’s $3billion Provincial Growth Fund.

The Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust has submitted a 100-page expression of interest for the fund and is aiming high – hoping for more than six figures to help progress enhancement projects in the Victorian Precinct.

In February last year, the Government announced an allocated $3billion to the fund, over three years, to enhance economic development and employment opportunities in regional New Zealand.

On April 17, Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust operations manager Mark Smith gave Kate Styles and Mark Patterson, of the Provincial Development Unit, a tour of the Victorian Precinct showcasing the projects included in the trust’s expression of interest.

Maintenance and upgrading stone masonry was an ongoing expense, and funding for that work was included in the proposal.

Other projects included a refurbishment of the historic stables (formerly McCarthy’s Coal Shop) in Harbour St and commercial plans.

The trust will now wait for feedback on its proposal, before making a formal application.

Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust chairman Graeme Clark said the basis of the application was continuing to bring life to the precinct by creating new opportunities and employment.

Next year marks 30 years since the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust was established and it had always “lived off the smell off an oily rag”, Mr Clark said.

“It’s always difficult, you’re trying to maintain 150-year-old buildings, you’re trying to create vibrancy, trying to have a good mix of tenants, trying to market the place – we’ve got a whole lot of roles going on.

“We’re always strapped for funding .. but I think now we’ve got our credentials. We’ve proven over 30 years we’ve actually achieved a lot.

“Having that [provincial growth fund] funding would help us carry on the work we’ve been doing.”

Mr Clark said initial feedback from the Provincial Development Unit had been positive.

“We’re pretty hopeful – we’ve put a lot of work into the expression of interest, Mark Smith and Frances McMillan in particular,” he said.