DoC goes to QLDC with begging bowl

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The perpetually cash-strapped Department of Conservation makes a pitch to Queenstown Lakes District Council today (Tuesday).

DoC is suggesting to QLDC’s strategy committee that they and the council jointly form a “heritage trust” to restore and preserve historic sites in the Wakatipu.

QLDC staff have already had “a number of meetings” with DoC and the Queenstown & District Historical Society and the trust proposal is expected to be formally blessed by councillors at today’s meeting.

In her meeting report, QLDC senior policy analyst Sue Mavor says “some very important and unique heritage sites in the Wakatipu are falling into disrepair as little or no maintenance is being carried out on them”.

“A number of these sites are located on public conservation land but there is limited funding available through DoC,” Mavor adds tellingly.

This funding shortage, she claims, “is because many of these sites do not meet the key DoC funding criterion of being easily accessible for the public”.

Restoration and conservation of heritage sites is expensive and grants usually only go to not-for-profit groups with charitable status, Mavor maintains.

Mavor and DoC Wakatipu boss Greg Lind have consulted three big community funders – the Lotteries Commission, Central Lakes Trust and Community Trust of Southland – to get them on side.

The new heritage trust will compile a list of local sites in trouble and then apply for funds to save them.

Mavor cites the Bullendale mining relics in Skippers Canyon and Arrowtown’s Chinese Village as two examples.

This feel-good initiative will cost QLDC ratepayers, however.

The trust will cost about $3000 to establish, Mavor reports, and QLDC would have to stump up $5000 a year for its administration.

There’s also a hidden cost, Mavor admits – the time that will need to be put in by QLDC staffers.