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Invercargill City Council to start work on $590,000 Chinese Park before spring

Source: stuff.co.nz 

Work on the Invercargill City Council's $590,000 Chinese Garden could start before spring. 

The friendship garden, to commemorate Invercargill's sister city relationship with Chinese city Suqian, has been given the green light in the council's annual plan. 

Invercargill-Chinese-ParkCouncil parks and reserves manager Robin Pagan said the funding would be available for the next financial year.

The garden would be covered by funds set aside in the long-term plan for Queens Park specialist displays, from parks special funds reserves development, and from surpluses in the park's business unit. The garden will have no impact on rates.

Pagan said the garden did receive some ratepayer opposition in the annual plan hearings. 

Some suggested the funds should be used for edible gardens instead, Pagan said. 

In May, Healthy Families Invercargill manager Jared Cappie said in his submission the money could instead be used to build an edible landscape in Invercargill. 

The community would benefit from increased access to fresh fruit and vegetables in key community spaces, such as Queens Park, Cappie said. 

Invercargill resident Louise O'Callaghan submitted that the Chinese Garden investment was 'inappropriate', and was not a priority for Queens Park or its users. 

"NZ as a nation may well wish to pursue 'business relationships' with China. But Queens Park users have no special need for a further Asian Garden," she said. 

"We already are served by a Japanese Garden." 

In her submission, O'Callaghan suggested the money should be spent on the upgrade of the Cheeky Llama Cafe. 

The parks division will now work on landscaping for the park. 

Pagan said delegates from Suqian had made no further visits to Invercargill since the opening of the Christmas lights in December. 

The park designs are in the traditional provincial style of Suqian. All work with park designers from Suqian was being completed remotely, Pagan said. 

It was not yet certain if the structures would be made locally or sourced as kit sets from China. 

Suqian is also building a friendship garden for Invercargill. A council delegation visited the Santai Mountain Forest Park in Suqian to inspect a potential garden site in September. 

The Queens Park garden might take longer, Pagan said. 

"We will probably take a bit longer, because we want to make sure what we do is quite authentic."