Coastguard’s new digs

Big move: Coastguard president Phil Wiel, left, and vice-president Andy McLeod at the site of the new Coastguard building

After eight years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and plenty of hard slog, work’s finally started on Queenstown Coastguard’s new home.

By February, the team of volunteers will be shifting from their current base in a storage shed at Frankton Marina to a purpose-built facility.

They were granted consent in 2012 to lease a vacant neighbouring site for the build.

Local Coastguard boss Phil Wiel says the new building will boost the Coastguard’s ability to offer education programmes.

“We’d like to see a lot of on-water education and use it as a community resource.”

The project’s been downsized after years of struggling to hit fundraising targets.

About $400,000 is expected to be spent, down from the $600,000-$700,000 originally planned.

“Initially we had some plans drawn up by a local firm, it was out of reach financially, we’ve come back to a more modest structure.

“We want a building that suits our needs, it doesn’t have to be beautiful.”

He says they’re still in talks with the council and other organisations to tee up more funding.

While the overall cost’s come down, vice-president Andy McLeod says the cost of excavation’s increased.

“We’ve had to dig down to lake level to replace the dodgy soil that’s in there basically, so we don’t slip into the lake over the next few years if there’s an earthquake.

“It’s gonna cost us a bit more than we originally thought, in our budget, but we are moving forward which is a massive thing.”

They’re still keen for any donations – and, once they’re in the new, larger building, any new volunteers.

That’s likely to become more important, with increased growth in Queenstown meaning more boats on the water, he says.