St John to discuss plans for new site with public

Jay Wheeler
Jay Wheeler
A Waitaki district councillor has voiced her displeasure about the preferred site of a proposed new St John base in Oamaru.

Last year, St John Oamaru requested the Waitaki District Council allow it to lease a 4000sqm area of Awamoa Park overlooking State Highway 1 so the organisation could construct a purpose-built facility for its emergency ambulance base, expected to cost an estimated $2million to $3million.

St John Oamaru is based in Coquet St, in a former doctor's surgery that was built in 1981 and is considered by the organisation to no longer be fit for its operations.

In October, St John Oamaru area committee chairman Terry Kent told the Otago Daily Times several other sites were considered, but they did not meet St John's requirements.

Awamoa Park was preferred because it was outside the Oamaru tsunami zone and had easy access to SH1.

In early November the council decided to move ahead with a public notification to reclassify a section of the park's western edge so the organisation could go ahead with its plans.

Crs Colin Wollstein, Guy Percival and Jan Wheeler voted against the motion.

Cr Wheeler said yesterday she still held concerns about the proposal, which will be discussed in more detail at a public briefing at the Oamaru Public Library on May 2 from 6pm.

''It's a precious park space and I'm concerned trees would have to be removed for this building and over the proposed lease of 50 years, there would be a lot more infrastructure required if they were to chose this as its site.''

She raised concerns about traffic volumes on SH 1 and said any new St John base needed to be in a central Oamaru location close to Civil Defence, Oamaru Hospital and emergency services locations.

As St John was funded by central government, ACC levies, memberships, user charges and annual donations, she said it was ''very doable'' that the organisation sold its hall and land in Exe St and put that money towards a more central location.

''I think the community would be 100% behind them to find a fit-for-purpose site that wasn't encroaching on public amenity.''

After the briefing an information stand will be placed in the library for two weeks, which would provide details on why the site was preferred.

Mr Kent would also be available to answer questions at St John Oamaru's office in Coquet St.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher encouraged residents to attended the briefing and provide feedback to St John.

''We've said have the conversation with the community and see what they think ... we'll see what comes out of that.

''Ultimately, the council has to make a decision and we're saying to St John to get out there and tell people what it is you plan to do.

''I think none of us want to give up our green space lightly, but equally when it comes to an organisation like St John ... we want to make sure they have got the facilities in the right place to deliver those services to the community.''

Mr Kent could not be contacted for comment yesterday.



While St John provides an essential and important community service, that does not entitle them to take resources from the wider community such as the proposed park area. Parks and green spaces need to be preserved and the fact that we have green spaces is only due to the foresight of those that have gone before. It is easy to whittle away these green spaces but once gone they are never available again. St John needs to go back to the drawing board and investigate other suitable options because this proposal is not one of them.