SDC applies for SI platform upgrade

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The view from Observation Rock in Stewart Island. PHOTO: Southland District Council

ONE of Stewart Island’s main attractions could be getting an upgrade.

The Southland District Council (SDC) will apply to the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to pay for the completion of an upgrade to the Observation Rock viewing platform.

A report from SDC community partnership leader Karen Purdue was presented to councillors last week.

Ms Purdue said the platform had safety issues which needed to be addressed.

“Observation Rock is the most visited viewing platform on the island, largely due to its proximity to the township of Oban.

“It is now becoming a destination for night-time viewing with the island gaining accreditation as an international dark sky sanctuary.”

The total cost of the project was $193,500, but the application to the PGF would be for $113,500.

She said the initial budget for the upgrade was $100,000, and SDC had received a grant of $80,000 from the Department of Conservation (Doc) through the Stewart Island visitor levy in 2018. The extra $20,000 was to be funded by “service in kind” from Doc and SDC.

However, initial engineering plans showed the project required more work than anticipated and therefore the cost had escalated.

Doc advised it was unable to find the extra funding required from its budgets and the Stewart Island Rakiura Community Board advised the visitor levy priority for funding was the rebuild of the Ulva Island and Golden Bay wharves.

Cr Karyn Owen asked what the other option would be if SDC did not get the grant.

Ms Purdue said the platform would likely be closed due to the safety risks. SDC approved the request for unbudgeted expenditure of $193,500, subject to the PGF being approved.

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