Phil Cole outlines the Dunedin Cable Car Trust's
vision and plans.
Achieving an 86% positive response to the recent online
ODT poll - ''`Would you like to see a cable car
operating up High St?'' - was a pleasant, but not surprising,
result for the Dunedin Cable Car Trust. From the 994 votes
cast, 852 were in favour.
The votes reflect the opinion of just under 1% of Dunedin's
population, but it is enough to give us encouragement.
Recreating the cable car on High St creates enormous
challenges. To overcome these, the trust needs to be
pragmatic and innovative to make sure Dunedin is left with an
asset rather than a liability. To this end, the trust has
spent a lot of time developing a project that will appeal to,
and have the support of, a majority.
Some, including those in support of the cable car, are still
under the misconception money for the project will come from
the Dunedin City and Otago Regional Councils. However, the
first matter agreed was that the trust was not going to ask
the councils for a cent. We want to create a project the
people of Dunedin and further afield can get behind and feel
part of. Those who don't want to support the project would be
under no financial obligation to do so.
The ultimate aim of the trust is to recreate the cable car up
High St from the Exchange to Mornington, with profits from
this community-based organisation - after depreciation costs
and reinvestment etc - being returned into local community
schemes and engineering apprenticeships, for example.
This project has the potential to redefine Dunedin in terms
of its heritage and its future and be one people can feel
part of. To this end, as much of the project as possible will
be designed and built in Dunedin or wider Otago - it will be
a living showcase for Dunedin and wider Otago engineering, as
well as for innovation and modern technology. Accordingly, it
will act as a magnet to attract visitors to come and see the
many great things that Dunedin can offer.
Because the trust is under no deadline - other than a
self-imposed one - it can build from a firm base and make
progress in a steady but prudent manner.
This project will differ from recent ''large-scale'' projects
in the city by being built in stand-alone phases. This is so
each phase has a fall-back option in the event of funding for
the next stage not being achieved. One of the important
philosophies of the trust is to leave an asset that will
continue to be an asset and not a liability.
There will be three main phases. The first will involve
construction of a terminus building on Mornington Park if the
necessary consents can be obtained and people's objections
can be answered satisfactorily. This will create a building
that will house the cable cars and motor, a museum and a
cafe/restaurant offering views of the harbour.
Actual physical construction will not begin until the cost of
the terminus building has been reached and passed. Once the
target has been reached, the building will hopefully be
designed by a local architectural/design company, with all
building work being undertaken by local people working for
local contractors who share the same outcomes and desires of
Fundraising for phase two will begin once sufficient money
has been raised for phase one. It will be the main phase of
the project and will consist of two main parts - the cable
car track/infrastructure and the cable cars themselves. This
second phase will be the most challenging and, hopefully, the
Progress with phase two will be in incremental stages,
allowing for certain fundraising targets to be met before the
next incremental stage can progress. This will avoid any
unfinished construction works and provides a financial
''buffer'' for the future of the terminus building in the
event of not enough funds being raised for the completion of
phase two. The third phase will include the ''finishing
touches'' such as the cable car stops and landscaping, as
well as historical information boards and signs.
One of the exciting prospects is that what started as an idea
for a cable car from the Exchange to Mornington is now, in
the trust's thoughts and processes, the catalyst that will
spark off the regeneration of the Mornington shopping area as
well as bringing people and visitors from the Octagon to the
A result of this will be the regeneration of one of the most
depressing stretches of road in Dunedin - Princes St from the
Exchange to the Octagon - which could lead to a regeneration
of this area. With all the brave heritage developers in the
Exchange area and the plans for the warehouse precinct, it
really could breathe new life into that part of town and
really make Dunedin the heritage capital of New Zealand.
- Phillip Cole is chairman of the Dunedin Cable Car