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Local effort . . . Enjoying the view from the front of the nearly completed St John headquarters in Wai-Iti Rd are (from left) Thompson Construction project facilitator John Wilson, St John regional trust board and South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chairman Gordon Handy and chamber chief executive Wendy Smith. PHOTO: CLAIRE ALLISON

by Claire Allison

It has been Team Timaru all the way at the new St John headquarters in Wai-Iti Rd.

With construction of the multimillion-dollar facility nearing completion, those involved are celebrating the fact the build has been a Timaru project from beginning to end.

With initial funding via a local trust established in 1941, and local firms involved in every aspect of design, consultation and construction, the project proved South Canterbury was sitting on a goldmine of talent and ability, Thompson Construction project facilitator John Wilson said.

“It’s a really nice, good strong piece of infrastructure for the town, and the big thing is the fact that it’s all been done in a timely fashion by Timaru, for Timaru.

“Timaru fixes itself from the inside out, with the people who live here.

“I think the thing that we in provincial New Zealand tend to do is we look externally to try to fix our problems, whereas the capability is all here. We are already sitting on a goldmine of talent and ability. Timaru’s trade sector is among the best in the country.”

Mr Wilson said dealing with only local consultants and tradespeople meant all were invested in the project.

“There’s a saying in the industry, ‘You can’t see it from my place’, whereas in Timaru, you can.”

South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith said it was possible to bring in outside companies to work locally, but they were not invested in the future of South Canterbury.

“But for us, we live, breathe and eat here. Now we look at this and think of it as building for the community’.”

St John regional trust board and South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chairman Gordon Handy said the St John parent body did not have to put any money into the building, and when completed, it would be debt-free.

“So many companies and community groups have got behind it. I’ve been asked to speak to so many different groups about the build.”

Mr Handy said neighbours of the new facility had been supportive throughout the construction process, just one complaint having been received communication.

The Level 4-importance building has its own generator, water supply and control centre, which can be used by either St John or Civil Defence in the event of an emergency.

It includes ambulance garaging, training areas, meeting rooms, staff areas and the operations area. Public access will be from the Jackson St entrance, while ambulances will be the only vehicles to exit into Wai-Iti Rd.

A chamber of commerce Business After Five event will be held in the new building on February 25 and public open days are planned for February 27 and 28.