City Council grants $120k towards cathedral project

The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Wellington.

The Wellington City Council has made an urgent grant of $120,000 towards the strengthening of the Metropolitan Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Wellington.

The cathedral was closed in July, 2018 after a structural engineer’s report confirmed the building represented a significant risk to people in the case of a moderate to strong earthquake.

Last month, Wellington’s mayor and councillors have voted unanimously to contribute a $120,000 grant towards the strengthening of cathedral.

According to a statement on the city council’s website, the one-off “out of round” contribution from the council’s Built Heritage Incentive Fund was granted to help continue the $3.3 million strengthening of the landmark building and allow it to be reopened.

The project had been jeopardised by the withdrawal of other funding for the project, due to the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mayor Andy Foster, who seconded the funding proposal, described the 119-year-old cathedral as one of the four or five most important landmark buildings in the city that still need strengthening and are eligible for the fund.

He also urged the Government to seriously consider coming to the party – given the cathedral parish had applied for a share of the Government’s post-pandemic funding for “shovel-ready” projects.

“This is definitely a shovel-ready project — and jobs are involved. This is not only about securing the future of one of our landmark buildings, it’s about keeping Wellingtonians working,” Mr Foster said.

The city council had already contributed $25,000 to fund the temporary strengthening of the building’s roof.

Councillor Iona Pannett, who holds the Council’s Building Resilience and Heritage portfolio, moved the funding proposal. She said the cathedral is one of only seven basilicas in New Zealand. It is noted for its excellent acoustics and its use as a public venue for various events, including concerts and recitals.

Cr Pannett added that it is important that the council is able to invest in important projects around the city, even in tough times.

“This is a well-thought-out project, and I am glad to see that the parish intends to base-isolate the building.

“Every building that comes off our quake-prone building list makes the city safer.”

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