A tenants’ association was one of the proposals outlined by the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust at its recent strategic meeting.
The trust has confirmed the following list of new plans:
1. Commissioning a report into the structural stability of all the buildings which are owned by the trust. Once that’s completed, a plan will be implemented around the engineer’s report.
2. Designing precinct specific signs for the north and south of the town.
3. Establishing Oamaru as a world heritage destination.
4. Creating a business association to formulate and stage events in the area.
5. The trust also wants to see a closer relationship with the Sunday market and to have greater involvement with members. A membership drive is planned.
The prospect of a tenants’ association received mixed reactions amongst Victorian Precinct business owners.
Grainstore Gallery owner Donna Demente said creating a business association could be a good idea.
“I obviously don’t know much about what they have planned, but I would be open to something like this happening once we find out what the plans actually are.”
Ms Demente said the association should not just relate to businesses.
“I think it could work, but they need to involve the community groups as well, because they are an important part of this area,” she said.
Ms Demente said opening hours of businesses in the area were an ongoing issue.
“For most of us, the busy part of the season is for five months, not seven, like some people would prefer.”
Bookbinder Michael O’Brien said he was against the idea of the tenants’ association.
“Yes, we all need to live and make money, but the Victorian area is not all about this. It’s about keeping the heritage value of it, not making it all about business,’ Mr O’Brien said.
He said he felt the trust was losing the feel for the precinct and worrying too much about making money.
“It’s the old buildings which make the precinct what it is. Yes, we need to make money when we can, but making it all about business would ruin the precinct.”
The aim of a business association made up of precinct tenants would be to formulate ideas to stage events and promote business in the area, said trust chairman Peter Garvan.
“The board has some concern over business opening hours, particularly as we are approaching the busy season and we would like shop and business owners to address this themselves,” he said.
“Trustees have spent two sessions looking at ways of bringing alive as well as preserving the greater historic area of the town.
“We realise the enormous potential that the precinct has, not only for tourism in the region, but also as part of a wider recreational use for locals that will come with the ongoing development of the neighbouring Steampunk playground and harbour areas.
“But it’s also important that we introduce changes that also preserve our unique collection of Victorian buildings for future generations.”
Mr Garvan said behind the scenes the trust was devising a business plan to develop a closer relationship with the Waitaki District Council, Tourism Waitaki and Heritage NZ, as well as key businesses and grants providers.
By BRAYDEN LINDSAY
PHOTO: LINDA MCCARTHY
NEW INITIATIVES: Chairman of the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust, Peter Garvan.