St John funding application approved

St John Oamaru’s fundraising efforts for its new base have been given a shot in the arm by the Waitaki District Council.

The council approved Hato Hone St John Oamaru’s application for a funding grant capped at $65,000 towards the cost of the new site’s resource consent, development contributions and building consent.

The funding was separate from the agreed $100,000 towards the relocation of the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), which was discussed in the annual plan, to possibly align the EOC base with the St John development.

Earlier this year, St John confirmed its new ambulance base would be built on the corner of State Highway 1and Weston Rd, at Oamaru’s southern entrance, on land given to the organisation by Ray and Janice Walker.

It had been searching for a new site since 2014, as the Coquet St premises are no longer fit for purpose.

The council last year rejected St John’s proposal to build at Awamoa Park, but agreed it would assist with a new site where possible.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the funding showed the council’s support of the development.

It was a ‘‘one-off type of situation’’ and did not set a precedent for others, he said.

‘‘[We’re] very keen that we can show our support for the work that St John does and make sure that they can get on and build the building sooner rather than later.

‘‘There’s a lot of local fundraising that has happened and will have to happen, but [we] look forward to having anew facility which is going to work for themmuch, much better than what it currently does.’’

Deputy Mayor Melanie Tavendale said she was ‘‘really pleased’’ the council could support St John, and councillor Colin Wollstein said the new site was far better than Awamoa Park would have been.

St John South Island community engagement general manager Craig Stockdale said the organisation was ‘‘thrilled’’ its funding application had been approved.

It was still in the early stages of formalising its project timelines for the new site, but would keep the community informed.

‘‘In the meantime we will be looking to the community as we progress funding efforts for the new build,’’ Mr Stockdale said.