By CASS MARRETT
About $1 million is still needed to fund Queenstown Salvation Army’s new community and social wellbeing hub in Remarkables Park.
The build, which will cost $9.4 million in total, is estimated to take 12 months, likely beginning early next year.
To make up the funding shortfall, Salvation Army regional relationships manager Jade Zeina says she’s applying for funding from Community Trust South, while the Sallies are looking to sell a property they own in Queenstown.
‘‘We are hoping to have the full funding before we start early next year and we’re working really hard to get there,’’ she says.
In August, the Salvation Army received a $350,000 grant from Central Lakes Trust, and several local donors have contributed to the project.
‘‘We are blessed with an amazing community that is supportive of what we do,’’ local Salvation Army community ministries director Andrew Wilson says.
‘‘We’ve had a number of people come out of the woodwork to support this project … I’m confident as a community we can get this built.’’
The hub’s now in the detailed design phase, and Wilson says it’s a case of now going through council to make sure all the documentation is ‘‘squared away’’.
‘‘Once we finally get the first proper shovel in the ground I’ll be over the moon,’’ Wilson says.
The new hub will include low-cost office space for social services, community meeting rooms, and an auditorium for small-scale productions.
Zeina says the hub couldn’t have come at a better time.
‘‘In the  lockdown, we saw a 300% increase [in demand for services].
‘‘We’re also seeing an increase in this lockdown with financial mentoring, our food and welfare, as well as heightened increase in mental health and anxiety in the community.
‘‘The pandemic has just heightened the urgency,’’ she says.
Moving forward, the Sallies will continue to operate their Gorge Road premises alongside the new hub.
Wilson says the new location was carefully chosen for Queenstown’s growing population.
‘‘Queenstown over the last, maybe 10 years, has progressively moved this way — we’ve got Shotover Country, Lake Hayes Estate, Hanley’s Farm and Jack’s Point.
‘‘We know that we work best when we’re at the heart of the community, particularly in terms of accessibility and closeness to other services.’’