Ratepayers will not have to bankroll any of the cost of running Christchurch's cardboard cathedral.
The city council has traditionally given the Christ Church Cathedral chapter of the Anglican Church $240,000 annually, which this year the chapter planned to put towards the cost of operating its new cardboard cathedral in Latimer Square.
The council's metropolitan funding committee yesterday voted unanimously against giving any money this financial year. The committee's decision is final.
The funding decision will not derail plans for the transitional cathedral as the Anglican diocese, which has multimillion-dollar property holdings across the city, has the money it needs to bankroll the project, but it is a blow for the church at a tense time in its history.
"This decision strikes at the heart of cathedral ministry in the city," acting dean Lynda Patterson told The Press yesterday.
"Our funding shortfall threatens many activities which are integral to what we do. The vege co-op which feeds over 800 families each week, civic services like the Antarctic service and Anzac Day citizens' service, and the ongoing life of our internationally acclaimed choir are all potentially under threat."
Patterson said it also cast doubt on whether the cathedral would be able to remain open seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Cr Jamie Gough said the decision not to give to the cathedral was a tough one to make but he believed better use could be made of ratepayers' money.
Gough, who is keen to see Christ Church Cathedral saved in some form, said he did not believe the decision to decline the grant was a dig at the Anglican Church or a message the council was unhappy with its decision to pull the cathedral down.
"I just believe the energy needs to be going into a permanent cathedral in the heart of Christchurch," he said.
"I have no problem with a temporary facility but I believe that ratepayer money could probably be prioritised in a better way."
Committee chairman Cr Barry Corbett said his decision not to support the grant was pragmatic, not political.
The annual grant given to the chapter over the previous years had been tagged towards the cathedral's visitor centre.
That centre was no longer operational, and he was not prepared to put any money at this stage towards the cardboard cathedral.
Council staff had recommended to the councillors that they decline the grant.
They said that there was no way of measuring potential visitor numbers at the new cathedral. It was likely to be much less than the 700,000 a year attracted to the cathedral in the Square.
Cr Peter Beck, who did not take part in the debate or the vote over the grant because of his role as former dean of the cathedral, said that he understood why the committee had made its decision, but it was disappointing.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Has Home and Away jumped the shark? (spoiler)