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by George Clark

The incoming St John development on Wai-iti Rd is back under way with a strong focus on local labour after a short delay with Covid-19.

St John South Island Regional Trust Board member and South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce president Gordon Handy said it had been made a priority for locals to pick up more than 30,000 hours of work in the project.

“The big thing for us throughout the whole development was that we wanted to keep this local,” Mr Handy said.

“As the money that has been given to us for building the station has come locally, one of the key criteria for us was that we had to use local people to build.”

The project is expected to cost between $4million and $5million.

Everything apart from quantity surveying will be achieved locally, outsourcing to Christchurch for cost assessment.

“It is a substantial amount of work and money back into the local region,” he said.

“It had to be local, shop local, look after the locals.

“It is good for South Canterbury and good for Timaru.”

Supporting local . . . Gordon Handy speaks to the South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Another criteria for the project was that it needed to be “shovel ready”, ensuring those going back to work after Covid-19 had a job to go to immediately.

“The council have been very supportive in getting the project right back under way.

“It has been very hard for tradies as sites have been shut for a month, a lot of jobs have been cancelled.

“At this stage we are ready to hit the ground running and get people back to work.”

Mr Handy said Timaru had been very fortunate over the years to have a St John trust set up in 1941.

Any money donated to St John has been accumulating and remained here ever since.

Board members decided to use that trust and establish a new building, originally looking to purchase the RSA site for use but missed out.

“Fortunately we were able to purchase the Seven Oaks site, working with Thompson Construction and Engineering in Washdyke to develop a set of plans for what the new station will look like.”