by Chris Tobin
Roncalli College principal Chris Comeau is looking forward to the day when the school’s sports facilities will be expanded and having just one gym for 500 pupils will end.
Work on the school’s new $2.4 million sports and community centre is progressing ahead of schedule with concrete panels recently installed.
Mr Comeau said it was looking good for the building as well as a sports turf to be opened and ready for the first school term next year.
“We haven’t had meaningful development at the school for several years.
“This will give us a lot more options, while involving the community as well.”
Work started at the beginning of term 2 in what is a joint development between the school and the Holy Family parish.
The parish will have a meeting centre at the northern Sacred Heart basilica end of the building after having sold its older centre in Napier St to the local Islamic community.
Besides the meeting centre, the facility will have sports changing rooms and a covered turf.
“It’s going to be available to other community organisations,” Mr Comeau said.
Next to the building, the covered sports turf will be about three quarters the size of a hockey pitch which will be used for netball, futsal, basketball and hockey.
The sports turf roof will go up in the next few weeks while the school is closed for holidays.
Mr Comeau said the project had been nearly five years in the planning and combining with the parish enabled it all to go ahead.
The school is still fundraising and a further $500,000 still to be raised. All of the land is owned by the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch.
A grass area at the northern end of the school behind the basilica will also be developed into a parking area, Mr Comeau said, and the present school park used as a pupils’ relaxation area.
Holy Family parish chairman Gary Shand said they had contributed $500,000 towards the combined parish centre/sports facility.
“Originally, we were going to have a stand-alone building but we’ve worked in together.”
Mr Shand said work on earthquake-strengthening the basilica was going well.
The cost of the work was $3.9 million and fundraising ongoing.
“We had an Irish night with Opihi parish on Saturday night as a fundraiser. I haven’t got the figures on that but it looks to have done pretty well.”
He said the Holy Family parish was not affected by a proposed radical restructuring of parishes in Christchurch, which would result in them reduced from 12 to five by 2023.
“We’ve already had a restructure down here,” Mr Shand said.
The Catholic Diocese of Christchurch has committed to giving $800,000 for the earthquake strengthening work and Mr Shand said there was “no talk of pulling back on that”.