A lifesaver for the lifesavers.
That's how Waimakariri-Ashley Coastguard president Dave Johnson describes a $500,000 grant from the Lion Foundation to help rebuild the group's riverside base in Kaiapoi.
Damaged beyond repair in the September 2010 earthquake that wreaked devastation throughout the Kaiapoi district, the Coastguard building currently leans 3deg away from the river.
The volunteers had to build concrete wedges into the floor of the garage to allow them to launch their 6.8-metre rescue craft Kaiapoi 1 in an emergency.
"This grant has been an absolute lifesaver for us,'' Mr Johnson said.
"It's a really significant amount and it's given us the confidence to carry on with planning for a replacement building.''
The Coastguard needs a little over $1 million to replace the building, which was underinsured before the earthquake.
Mr Johnson said "like everyone else" the Coastguard never envisaged an earthquake would totally write off all its fixed assets.
"We never thought we would lose the whole building. We thought burglars might get at it or there might be a fire and we'd have to replace the upstairs section, but never the whole building,'' he said.
"The slipway itself will cost something like $50,000 to repair,'' he said. "That was uninsureable and it's a total loss.''
Mr Johnson said the Lion Foundation funding - the largest individual grant by the charitable trust towards earthquake recovery in Canterbury - put the Coastguard "on the path to completing our project".
The earthquake provided an opportunity to search for a more suitable site, but none could be found. "This is the place,'' Mr Johnson said.
"Fortunately the Waimakariri District Council has been very helpful. They want us to stay here and they want us as a cornerstone for other development around the riverfront area.''
With about 75 per cent of the required funding secured, the Coastguard is working hard to find the rest.
The new building will be known as the Lion Foundation Marine Rescue Centre.
Foundation chief executive Phil Holden said the trust was "thrilled to be in a position to assist. I know how much the facility means to the local community of Kaiapoi and I know the impact the new one will have'', he said.
Mr Johnson said the grant allowed the Coastguard to commission an architect to produce detailed drawings and a geotechnical engineer to design a new foundation.
"I'd be disappointed if we aren't under way with building in six to eight months.''
- Waimakariri-Ashley Coastguard volunteers have rescued 19 people in the past 12 months.
- Volunteers number 30 - with 18-20 on seagoing roster.
- It has two vessels - Kaiapoi 1, a 6.8 metre Naiad rigid inflatable offshore rescue boat, and Rangiora High Rescue, an Arancia 3.5 metre inflatable inshore rescue craft.