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If a new development is to take place in our district and seems to have benefits for the district as a whole, should the whole district support it?
It's not a question that is new. It will certainly have been asked by many in relation to Lake Hood and the new performing arts centre starting to take shape in central Ashburton.
Of course, we're again talking here about the proposed Methven Heritage Centre, to be dedicated to the twin themes of grain and snow that are so prominent in the town.
It's a matter of record already that there have been objections raised at meetings in both Rakaia and Hinds to ratepayers from other parts of the district having to contribute to the establishment of the centre.
Clearly the district council, which has $750,000 tagged in the budget it's currently taking to a series of meetings in the district, has to make a decision on what is becoming a contentious issue.
But on what basis should such a decision be made? How does one measure, before a development takes place, what the potential benefits are and how widespread they are likely to be?
There's little doubt, if one is entirely honest, that Methven, the foothills area and Mt Hutt are probably the biggest attraction the district has. People come to that area from all over the world each year, mainly for skiing of course, and the district surely benefits as a whole. Because let's be honest, Ashburton as a town has little to recommend it as a tourist destination in its own right.
But will a centre of this nature elevate the whole Methven experience to such an extent that it will have additional benefits for the rest of the district?
It's a debate that seems set to drag on for some time. Ratepayers elsewhere at least have the assurance, though, that the money tagged as a council contribution will not be forthcoming until the rest of the $4 million cost is accounted for. If those involved are able to raise more than $3 milliion, surely that will be an indication that the project is a viable one?