So - where do we go from here? We need to put pressure on the Minister and the ministry to get on and make a decision which suits OUR community. The Minister of Courts, Chester Borrows, has already given a commitment that we will keep hearings in Oamaru.
The rest of the community has done its part to retain our heritage buildings. This council, on behalf of the public, has a number of heritage buildings which have been renovated/restored/
I'm prepared to help them further than that if they won't decide to upgrade the building themselves. If elected, I'll be in a position to do what I can to find a solution. One option is to facilitate a possible purchase by a trust (such as the Whitestone Civic Trust) to take over the building for a nominal amount. $1 seems like a win/win! The Ministry would sign a lease-back agreement which specifies that they will move back into the building once it is up to standard and will pay a market rental for a suitably long period of time. This would allow the trust to fundraise and/or borrow money to get the work done and have the guarantee of funding going forward.
This would be a win for all concerned: the community gets one of its important buildings upgraded and keeps its hearings in an appropriate location; the Ministry gets a strengthen building without the liability of doing it up; and the OWCT gets another key building in its portfolio which will have a solid tenant. It's time to get this issue moving forward!