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Community facility . . . An artists impression of the new gymnasium Kaiapoi High School is hoping to build. IMAGE: KAIAPOI HIGH SCHOOL

By DAVID HILL

The possibility of helping fund a second gymnasium at Kaiapoi High School will be looked at as part of the Waimakariri District Council’s review of indoor sports facilities.

The council will seek public feedback on a proposed $23 million indoor sports facility as part of this year’s annual plan process, as it looks ahead to next year’s Long Term Plan.

In the meantime Kaiapoi High School has floated the idea of the district contributing towards a new gymnasium to meet the school’s growing role.

Principal Bruce Kearney says the school has begun the new year with around 850 students, which qualifies it for half a gymnasium on top of its existing facility.

However, the Ministry of Education is rebuilding the school to a roll of 1100 to meet projected future growth.

Rather than wait for the school roll to grow, Mr Kearney believes the Kaiapoi community needs the facility now.

“Everything we have is a community facility, our new cultural learning centre, our auditorium, our astro turf and our present gym.

“For us it’s about our school connecting with our community and providing for our community. It just makes sense – it makes best use of your assets.”

He says there are examples of the Ministry of Education working with local authorities, including working with the Christchurch City Council to develop sports facilities on the former Queen Elizabeth II Park site, as part of the proposed relocation of Avonside Girls’ and Shirley Boys’ High Schools.

Mayor David Ayers says the council is resolved to develop a concept plan for building a new indoor sports facility on Coldstream Road, however the school’s proposal was discussed at last week’s annual plan meeting, but says it is “too early to speculate”.

“If any information did develop it could be included in this year’s annual plan consultation, but at the moment we don’t have any figures and the council hasn’t spoken with the Ministry (of Education).

“We are keeping in mind existing facilities across the district including Rangiora New Life School’s events centre, the Ohoka Community Centre and the possibilities at the high schools.”

Mr Ayers says with the district’s population expected to grow from 57,800 to 82,300 by 2043 it is likely several new indoor sports facilities will be needed.

“It’s not so much a question of if, but of when.

“Councils are cautious of having too many large projects close together in their timing.”

The council has approved $100,000 to continue design work on the proposed Coldstream Road sports facility so the public can see what is being proposed.