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Timaru landmark . . . Strengthening work is expected to begin on the Sacred Heart Basilica in 2019. PHOTO: CLAIRE ALLISON

2018 was an eventful year for South Canterbury. The Courier reporters Greta Yeoman, Claire Allison and Chris Tobin look back at some of the leading stories of the year’s papers.

Timaru’s Holy Family Parish launched a major fundraising project to earthquake-strengthen the Sacred Heart Basilica in June.

The Courier‘s June 14 edition led with the story about the project led by the parish, which, along with Roncalli College, will also build a covered sports facility on the Ashby Courts area behind the church.

The work on the basilica is estimated to cost $2.4million, which includes deferred maintenance.

Parish chairman Gary Shand said in June that the local contribution would be $1.6million – a third from the diocese, a third from the community and a third from selling assets.

“The diocese will fund it to a certain extent, but we have to raise, for the basilica, $1.6million. We will ask the parish, and then the wider community.”

He said this week that the first big community-based fundraising effort for the basilica – a church open day on Saturday – had gone well. About 200 people attended the event, which included viewing Timaru from the top of the basilica.

As of December 17, it was estimated about $1000 had been raised from the day.

Work on the Sacred Heart Basilica is expected to start in February, but Mr Shand said this would depend on tenders and agreements made by diocese staff in Christchurch.