`We will probably share that benefit’

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A major South Canterbury construction project has the potential to be of huge benefit to North Otago, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher believes.
Last week, Oceania Dairy general manager Roger Usmar announced the recruitment process for jobs at Oceania’s dairy plant at Glenavy would start shortly.
Up to 200 people will be required each day while the main construction phase of the project is under way.
The multi-million dollar expansion of the plant will involve an ultra-high temperature milk processing plant, dry store, and loading and canning facilities being constructed on the site, which will add an additional 30,375 sq m to the current 12,414 sq m factory.
The bulk of that will be taken up by the dry store warehouse. Construction of a concrete floor started several weeks ago after consent was granted by the Waimate District Council, and there are presently about 100 staff on site.
While the majority of the staff who will be employed will be from the Waimate district, some will come from further afield.
Mr Kircher was excited about the project and felt it would have a positive flow-on effect for the Waitaki district.
“While we would love to have all of the activity in our district, it’s very close and easy to travel to.
“We are the largest nearest population centre, so I expect a number of those involved with the construction will base themselves here if they are from elsewhere. We will probably share that benefit with Waimate.
“There will be some that come from elsewhere . . . whether that involves staying at motels or hotels, or hiring homes, that’s a possibility as well. I think that will help with the overall well-being of the local economy.”He believed the benefit would not be limited to the construction phase.
“I guess the next step, once construction is finished, is there will be an increase in overall jobs, so it’s positive for our district.” Both Mr Kircher and Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley believed the state of the dairy industry, with some farmers struggling to make ends meet this season, would have no impact on Oceania’s plans.
Global dairy prices have inched up in recent weeks which pointed to a recovery of sorts in the sector. However, it may be some time before farmers will see the benefits of that.
“It is pleasing to see recent rises in the world dairy prices, and I hope this is an indicator of more stable times ahead for the dairy industry,” Mr Rowley said.
“I believe Oceania Dairy’s expansion plans are an indication of the positive long-term prospects for the farming sector of the Waimate district and the wider region.”He said Oceania’s investment in expansion may be influenced by the development of the $32 million Waihao Downs Irrigation Scheme, which will feed 32 irrigators over an area of 3500 ha in the Waihao Downs area, as well the Hunter Downs Irrigation Company being in the final stages of planning for its scheme, which will enable further agricultural production, such as high-value crop products and specialty crops.
Construction of the structures at the plant is set to begin in late June or early July, once the concrete floor had fully dried.