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Come on Mount Victoria

  • July 14th, 2008

The Mount Victoria struggle to keep its community centre, Crossways, is inspiring but now desperate. Cathy and I went to a fundraising Victorian-themed dinner on Saturday night.

It was warm and friendly.  Mt Vic-based Paula Hunt Dance Academy entertained, and good food was sponsored by local cafes, Strawberry Fare, One Red Dog, Deluxe Cafe, Kai in the City, Kosmos Greek Taverna and coffee from Caffe L’affare.  Just as a community event should be. 

The old house did what it has done for the 30 years Cathy and I have lived here, providing a haven for neighbours to meet, whether they come in pairs or singly or in groups. We watched the Springboks win companionably upstairs on a big screen lent by another Mount Victoria resident for all the 2008 matches.  

A huge sense of community brings Mount Victoria together but it may be too late for this house.

For Cathy and me, it was nostalgic. Cathy and other mothers (nearly all) catered  regular Friday night cafe sessions at Crossways, raising money for Clyde Quay kindergarten 20 years ago.  Fathers did dishes. It was many of the same neighbours and friends of those days putting on the meal on Saturday to find money to keep the building as a community centre. 

The committee doing the fundraising has done a fantastic job – they filled the Paramount last week for a showing of "Lovely Rita" by Mt Vic filmaker, Gaylene Preston.  They’ve raised $75,000 from residents, been offered an $250,000 interest free loan and a low interest mortgage from Kiwibank.  The Wellington City Council turned down a proposal for a $250,000 grant to help their offer of $1.2 million to the Presbyterian Church, which wants to sell the building to pay for renovations to St Andrews on the Terrace.  The building is now on the open market.

The Wellington City Council does not support the local bid.  I understand that they worry about high maintenance on the building, support purpose-built large community centres rather than small local ones, think that "poorer" suburbs deserve community centres more, feel that Mt Victoria residents have lots of cafes nearby for meeting and there are alternatives in the vacant Bandoliers Clubrooms on the Town Belt and in the rooms under the Band Rotunda in Oriental Bay.

Yet the building is in good condition, a wonderful centre for a very dense suburb of people in houses on small sections.  For my children, the sense of community in the local suburb was important.  They went to different primary schools  and yet our son walked to Wellington College on his first day with his old friend, Joseph, from the next street.  They’d played together in the sandpit at Clyde Quay kindergarten and then met every Friday at the fundraising meals at Crossways. 

For inner city suburbs, community is sometimes difficult as there are so many choices.  Cafes help but are not the same as a community centre.    The council talk of "community" all the time but where are they when it is under threat?  The Bandoliers might be great for a creche but it is isolated and recent  rules mean a lot of money will have to go into bringing it up to required standards.  My guess is that the local creche will close.

So come on Mount Victoria!  Lobby your councillors. Ian McKinnon, Iona Pannett and Stephanie Cook from Lambton Ward with Andy Foster, Celia Wade-Brown and Brian Pepperell supported the proposed grant.  The other councillors voted against it.  Convince those you know that community is important everywhere for Wellingtonians.  Especially when it is there already.  Just as important as one-off events that bring visitors to the city’s hotels.  Make this continue to be a fantastic city to live in as well as visit.





[…] Franks blogs on the battle to save Crossways in Mt Victoria. I will be blogging on this myself during the week. It will be a tragedy if Mt […]

  • Bob Warren
  • July 19th, 2008
  • 7:46 pm

Why ask the long suffering public to fund this via rates or taxes? Shouldn’t private enterprise take on the challenge?


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