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The decision was confirmed by councillors during the non-public part of Monday’s Dunedin City Council meeting and that decision was made public last night.
On October 30, the city was awarded $19.9million from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to help pay for the first stage of transformation work on Dunedin’s waterfront.
The conditional funding agreement was to pay for ground works, building platforms, public realm treatments and sea-wall upgrades needed for the project to proceed, but the details of the agreement were still being finalised when the Covid-19 lockdown came into force.
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said the decision to put the project on hold meant the council would withdraw from the Provincial Growth Fund process for now.
‘‘The waterfront vision was one of a number of transformational projects the council has been working to progress.
‘‘What sets it apart from things like the Central City Plan is that it was always seen as public funding that would drive significant private investment.
‘‘In the current economic climate, those odds have got far longer, so we’re going to push pause on this until the economy improves.’’
Mr Hawkins said the project had only been delayed, and stressed the vision for the waterfront remained.
‘‘This is a delay, not a death knell,’’ the mayor said.
Because the idea was to build a platform for the University of Otago and other businesses to build on top of, interested parties were consulted.
He said those parties were ‘‘comfortable’’ with the decision to delay.
The Government was also advised the DCC would seek to re-engage with the PGF process later, and in the meantime would progress design and consenting processes ‘‘as far as practicable’’, while avoiding unnecessary cost.
The aim would be to ensure further delays could be avoided when the project and associated development might continue.
Mr Hawkins said it was impossible to say how long the project would be delayed.
‘‘If I had that kind of foresight, I’d probably be in a different line of work. It’s anybody’s guess at this point, as to how long it’s going to take the economy to recover to the point that we were at before Covid.
‘‘It was a project that was born out of more buoyant times.
‘‘It’s hard to say with a clear conscience that it’s still likely within the next 12 months.’’
The decision to withdraw from PGF also meant work on the waterfront bridge had been put on hold, pending a report to council on the future of the project.
He expected the report to come to the council in August, and the $20million set aside for the waterfront bridge would be discussed at a council meeting today.
‘‘That will be discussed along with everything else in our capital works programme for the 2020-21 year.
‘‘The decision made yesterday [Monday] will no doubt inform that decision, but nothing has been decided in terms of what happens to that project.
‘‘It’s up for debate in the next few days.’’
Mr Hawkins also said he could not say how much had been spent on the project so far, but said that anything spent would not be lost.
‘‘All the work done up until this point will still be of value when we’re once again in a position to carry on from where we left off.’’