Easter pol­icy a step closer

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - ELENA MCPHEE

The Ti­maru District Coun­cil is pre­par­ing to ask peo­ple whether shops in South Can­ter­bury should be al­lowed to open on Easter Sun­day, but with busi­ness own­ers deeply am­biva­lent about the idea, it is un­cer­tain how many re­tail­ers would take ad­van­tage.

The coun­cil will dis­cuss its Easter trad­ing pro­posal doc­u­ment on Tues­day. If ap­proved, it will be cir­cu­lated to the pub­lic. Its pre­ferred op­tion is that all shops in the district would be able to trade on Easter Sun­day if they chose to do so, with em­ploy­ees able to refuse to work with­out any reper­cus­sions for their em­ploy­ment re­la­tion­ship.

Mitre 10 Mega Ti­maru owner Si­mon Lye - who also owns the Ash­bur­ton and Oa­maru stores - said the pro­posal was not some­thing he would sup­port.

He knew peo­ple would come in if they opened, but at the mo­ment there was not the cus­tomer de­mand to war­rant open­ing and have staff feel the pres­sure to spend the day away from their fam­i­lies.

‘‘I’m more than happy with the sta­tus quo.’’

He re­alised the day was pop­u­lar for DIY projects but most peo­ple knew to plan in ad­vance, he said.

Two other op­tions were also on the ta­ble, how­ever, with it be­ing pos­si­ble Easter trad­ing would only be al­lowed in cer­tain parts of the Ti­maru District.

The other op­tion - favoured by the South Can­ter­bury Cham­ber of Com­merce - was not to have a by­law at all.

Cham­ber chief ex­ec­u­tive Wendy Smith said the cham­ber be­lieved the Gov­ern­ment needed to set the pol­icy, rather than the coun­cil. Re­gional by­laws cre­ated con­fu­sion among the gen­eral pub­lic about who was open and who was not, she said.

Ti­maru coun­cil­lor Peter Burt was com­fort­able with the by­law as it was, and thought it was im­por­tant peo­ple were al­lowed to refuse to work on that day if they did not want to, while mayor Da­mon Odey de­clined to com­ment be­fore the coun­cil dis­cus­sion.

Rev­erend Brent Richard­son, of the Ti­maru Pres­by­te­rian Church, was op­posed to a by­law.

‘‘If your God and re­li­gion is money and shop­ping, it makes per­fect sense to max­imise your op­por­tu­ni­ties on that. The ques­tion I would ask is as a so­ci­ety, is it our main value to shop?’’

Dis­cus­sions around Easter trad­ing in South Can­ter­bury have been go­ing on since the be­gin­ning of the year, with coun­cil­lors unan­i­mous in de­cid­ing to form a pol­icy in Fe­bru­ary.

A pol­icy was favoured in the pop­u­lar tourist spot of Geraldine, with many busi­ness own­ers and groups in sup­port.

Geraldine LOUK NZ Cloth­ing owner Suzanne Church­ward was am­biva­lent, say­ing she was happy with the law as it was, but would feel ob­li­gated to open if ev­ery­one else was. ’’It’s a des­ti­na­tion town. We need to all be to­gether on it,’’ she said. ‘‘I be­lieve in unity for the good of the town.’’

It was good to have some days when trad­ing was not per­mit­ted, she said.

Geraldine Gar­den Cen­tre owner Max Bur­rows did not have firm views, but doubted the gar­den cen­tre would open on Easter Sun­day, as it was a fam­ily day.

In Ti­maru, Miss Ti­maru owner So­phie Preen said she would not take ad­van­tage of the by­law if it went ahead, be­cause she did not open on Sun­days any­way.

Speight’s Ale House co-owner Nigel Bowen also said he could al­ready open for cus­tomers if they wanted a meal but he did not, as it was a fam­ily day for his staff.

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