By Mick Jensen
St John will expand its Mid Canterbury service from October and is looking at the possiblity of re-configuring its Ashburton base.
Speaking at a St John presentation to Ashburton council last week, St John Mid Canterbury territory manager Ian Rex said there had been a 9.8 per cent increase in call outs from 2016/17 year to the 2017/18 year.
That increase of 1660 callouts meant St John needed to expand its operations to cater for emergencies.
From October 1 there would be a second fully paid ambulance operating on the day shift, he said.
Mr Rex said an extra four staff would be employed, which would enable more vehicle movements.
Volunteers played a huge part in running the service and functionality was also key.
Because of the need to have clean flows, and to stop contamination, ambulances ideally needed to exit and return from different points, he said.
St John ambulances now exit the Tancred Street building from the front and return through a council car park on Burnett Street at the rear.
It was granted a resource consent to do so in 1996, but now wants to formalise the agreement into a right-of-way in order to progress development plans.
St John South Island general manager Kent France said St John was at the timing and planning stage and “wanted more certainty around access”.
Options included a formal right-of-way agreement, paying for extra parking, entering into a lease agreement for part of the section, or even buying the section.
He said St John was eyeing up a possible investment of $250,000 into the re-configuration of the site and expansion of the service.
Ashburton council group manager business support Paul Brake said the site was too narrow to offer an easement.
The site was currently zoned Business A, was a fee simple site and had a rating valuation of $345,000.
To give a legal right-of-way to St John, said Mr Brake, would impair significantly on the value of the site by “at least $200,000”.
Cr Neil Brown said the situation put council in a difficult position.
On the one hand St John were offering to expand their service to the district and on the other hand council was looking to safeguard the value of its section.
He said selling the section to St John could be a win-win situation, but said more discussions were needed to progress it.
He was backed Cr Russell Ellis, who suggested council needed to compile a report to show the value of the section and its use, before entering into further discussions with St John.
Cr Lynette Lovett said it was better to sell the land than devalue it.
The sale gave certainty to both parties and other future council parking options could be sought.
Cr Selwyn Price suggested negotiating a “generous” land deal with St John.
For now, St John will continue its current right of access.