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Community building - A Heart for our City

Community building - A Heart for our City

Community groups and individuals will be gathering in Wellington’s Civic Square on Friday 12 September 12pm-1.30pm to ask the Wellington City Council to invest in a dedicated community group building in the heart of Wellington city.

Event: A celebration of community groups and rally for a community building in the heart of the city
Time: 12.00pm – 1.30pm
Date: Friday 12 September 2003

This gathering is in response to the Council’s proposal to amend the Long Term Council Community Plan so that it can sell council owned properties on Willis & Victoria Streets in which over fifteen community organisations currently are located.

Who are we?

The Victoria Street Community Group Tenants include:
- ALAY Community Centre for Refugees and Migrants (comprising Wellington Refugee Council, Somali People’s Trust, MAMTA, Latin American Groups of Wellington, and the Cambodian community),
- Courtenay’s (Mental Health Consumer’s Union),
- Mokai Kainga,
- Pacific Island Community Centre,
- Vincent’s Art Workshop, Volunteer Wellington,
- Wellington Community Law Centre,
- Wellington Women’s Centre (comprising Wellington Independent Rape Crisis, Wellington Women’s Health Collective, Wellington Women’s Loan Fund, and Women’s Refuge), and

We provide a vast range of services to thousands of individuals in the Wellington community. We are working in areas of identified need, supporting diverse client groups. We bring energy, enthusiasm, and creativity to areas of work and life that are essential to the safety, vibrancy and growth of the Wellington community.

In February 2002 the Victoria Street tenants came together as a group in response to Council’s stated intention to sell the block of buildings in which we are currently located. For the past 18 months we have been meeting with Council officers and Councillors to work towards some solutions.

As a result an offer of transitional support for relocation has been made to the tenant groups and Council has established a new Accommodation Assistance Policy for Community Groups. We have appreciated the work of Council and the offer made relating to transitional assistance for relocation. We wish however, to take the opportunity during this consultation period to once again champion the cause for a dedicated community building in the heart of the city. This is something that has happened very successfully in Christchurch and in Porirua. We see this as an opportunity for the Wellington City Council to be innovative leaders and create something special in the heart of Wellington.

What our overall position is

We want the Council to value the work of community groups and the well-being of our City by setting aside a building in this block to establish a dedicated community group space in the inner city. We strongly support a dedicated community group building in the heart of our City.

- Community groups make a huge contribution to Wellington by providing essential services to thousands of people and by adding vibrancy, diversity and compassion to the life of the City.

- Community groups need affordable, sustainable, centrally located premises from which to most effectively deliver their services.

- Council commitment to community group accommodation helps create a healthier, safe City and acknowledges the significant challenges for community groups in accessing affordable, appropriate and stable accommodation in the inner city.

- By providing a dedicated community group building in the inner city the Council gets best value from its community investment – groups are able to cluster together, gain maximum benefit from limited resources and focus their energy on providing quality services to the public.

- The financial and social returns to the City can be maximised through sale of some of the properties, development of a community group building and getting buy-in from the private and philanthropic sectors.

We believe that the Willis Victoria Street properties have a strong alignment with the strategic direction of the Council which is:
“Our Vision Creative Wellington – Innovation Capital"

Our Strategic Priority

To retain and attract creative people to our city, in order to help our economy grow by:

- Providing sound infrastructure
- Being a city with events a happening place
- Celebrating our diversity, culture, heritage, innovation and creativity
- Fostering technological, economic, cultural and artistic creativity and innovation
- Encouraging smart, creative businesses and investing in growing numbers of jobs in the creative sector”

Wellington City Council Plan 2003/04 pg. 6

The Victoria Street Community Group Tenants assert that the current usage of the Victoria Willis Street block demonstrates these strategic priorities in action. With a little more directed support and appropriate development these buildings could be a show case for the strategic priorities of our city. This council could be recognised and remembered as the one that encouraged the development of a heart in our community. A dedicated community space would greatly enhance the utilisation of this area particularly through diverse community participation and the fostering of creative partnerships and innovation.

We invite you to join us in Civic Square and hear the views of the Wellington community on this issue.

Media Release
Victoria Street Community Group Tenants
Contact: Vanessa Lewis, Wgtn Independent Rape Crisis
Ph: 473-5358 (wk)
Kaye Reardon, Wgtn Community Law Centre
Ph: (04) 499-2928 (wk)

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