Councillor defends cathedral decision

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 17/07/2012

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Claims by the Anglican Church that it may not be able to keep the cardboard cathedral open year-round without funding support from Christchurch City Council have upset a city councillor.

Cr Barry Corbett, who heads the committee that last week declined a funding application from the Christ Church Cathedral Chapter, yesterday defended the decision and hit back at the church.

"They haven't got it [the cardboard cathedral] operational, so how can we give them a grant?

"Tell them to get their act together and get it to run and then we might look at it," he said.

The chapter wanted the council to contribute $240,000 towards the running costs of its transitional cathedral and was one of 183 community groups and organisations that applied for money through the council's Metropolitan Strengthening Communities Fund.

The groups were seeking a total of $8.1 million, $3.4m more than was available through the fund.

Acting on the recommendation of council staff, councillors last Friday decided that the chapter would be among the groups declined funding this year.

The Anglican Church said the decision struck at the heart of cathedral ministry in the city.

"It casts doubt on whether we can remain open seven days a week, 365 days a year," the acting dean of the cathedral, Lynda Patterson, told The Press last week.

Corbett said yesterday that he would be disappointed if the cardboard cathedral, once built, was not kept open year-round.

"It would be very sad if they were to try to close the cathedral to the people of Christchurch and to visitors just because they don't get their grant, given the number of grants they have received from the council in the past," he said.

The church has been unable to provide The Press with details of the forecast annual operating budget for the cardboard cathedral.

Patterson said yesterday that the cathedral chapter would consider the ramifications of the council's decision, but it was a serious blow.

If the cardboard cathedral cannot be kept open year-round it could also be a blow to the city's tourism industry, which is hoping the $5m structure, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, will become a popular visitor attraction.

Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism (CCT) chief executive Tim Hunter said that he expected there would be considerable visitor interest in the cardboard cathedral, particularly from those familiar with Ban's work.

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- The Press

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