Sky Garden tower proposal would soar above Hamilton’s CBD offering views up and down the Waikato River

Move over Auckland, Hamilton could be moving in on the tower-in-the-CBD market.

That’s the lofty goal developer John Heskett is reaching for in his third attempt to build a major tourism project in Waikato.

It’d be based around a 100-metre-high timber tower, the highest building in the heart of Hamilton’s CBD, next to the Waikato Museum on Victoria St.

Developer John Heskett is in the concept phase of a plan to bring the Sky Garden tourism project to Hamilton.

Dominico Zapata/Stuff

Developer John Heskett is in the concept phase of a plan to bring the Sky Garden tourism project to Hamilton.

It would feature a bungy and slide off the tower with a swing over the neighbouring Waikato River.

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Concept drawing of the Sky Garden tourism tower when it was proposed for Hangatiki, Waitomo. The project will be redesigned to fit into Hamilton’s CBD.

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Concept drawing of the Sky Garden tourism tower when it was proposed for Hangatiki, Waitomo. The project will be redesigned to fit into Hamilton’s CBD.

At the top there would be a viewing platform, restaurants, cafes and a cocktail bar. The roof would be used as a green space with a garden, lawn and mini golf course for families.

The project is still in the concept phase and would need further feedback from the Hamilton City Council, community and iwi.

It would not be a carbon copy of the $20 million Sky Garden plan for Hangatiki, near Waitomo Village, which was declined in July. Nor would it look like the first version promoted closer to Te Kūiti.

The Waitomo version was 70m high.

“We need to redesign it for Hamilton, to make it taller, but it will still be built out of timber and have the tower as its centre piece,” Heskett said.

John Heskett said the revised Sky Garden project for Hamilton is in its early stages of planning but could cost between $20m-$30m.

Dominico Zapata/Stuff

John Heskett said the revised Sky Garden project for Hamilton is in its early stages of planning but could cost between $20m-$30m.

He initially looked at a site near Horotiu, north of the city. The council also suggested Victoria St as an option.

“There is the Waikato Regional Theatre being built nearby in the CBD and bringing the Sky Garden into the heart of the city could be a good fit.”

Heskett said he was compelled to continue finding a home for the project after numerous calls of support, after the Waitomo proposal was declined in July.

“I’ve lost count of how many offers of other sites I’ve had, people want to see it become reality.

“Raising capital for this [Hamilton] project has been the easiest of the three, we’ve got $500,000 ready for a new consent.”

The project’s inability to mitigate cultural aspects was the stumbling block at Waitomo.

“So I am meeting with my cultural adviser this week and one of the first conversations will be with iwi, to check that the site is okay to use.

“We want to put a swing over the Waikato River but we know the river is special to iwi, so we need to consult on that concept first.”

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Pet owners could talk to their vets about CBD, marijuana products under Michigan House-passed bill

Products promising to alleviate a beloved pet’s pain with CBD oil or THC have long been available to consumers – but Michigan veterinarians are currently operating in a legal gray area when talking about those products with pet owners.

Many Michigan lawmakers are hoping to change that. This week, a bill that would let veterinarians consult with pet owners about the use of marijuana or industrial hemp products for their animals passed the Michigan House unanimously.

Rep. Greg Markkanen, R-Houghton, sponsored the bill after learning from veterinarians in his district that while clients often have questions about how products containing CBD or THC could affect their pet’s health, state law doesn’t explicitly allow veterinarians to discuss the pros and cons of the products with pet owners.

Veterinarians also aren’t technically allowed to initiate discussions about whether a pet has been exposed to marijuana – which experts say can pose problems for treating animals, as THC can interact with other medications or cause medical issues in the event of an accidental overdose.

“We must make sure our veterinarians are able to have open and honest conversations with people about using products containing CBD oil and marijuana to care for their pets,” Markkanen said in a statement following the passage of his bill.

In January, the House Agriculture Committee heard from veterinarians that the law could help lead to better information and research about appropriate uses and side effects for animals, and also help pet owners get trusted medical advice on the products instead of having to research it on the internet.

“Without the correction, it holds our hands behind our backs in properly advocating what would be proper for their pet,” Dr. Kellie Holmstrom, a Marquette veterinarian who helped inspire the legislation, previously told lawmakers.

Michigan has allowed medicinal marijuana use since 2008, and hemp and recreational marijuana were legalized in 2018. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a hemp-derived extract that can be added to oils and lotions and is used as a natural remedy for anxiety, insomnia, depression and pain.

Sales of CBD pet products have increased rapidly throughout the country, increasing from $8 million in 2017 to $32 million in 2018, according to the Brightfield Group. The firm estimates the CBD pet market could reach $1.16 billion nationwide by 2022.

The legislation, House Bill 5085, is now before the Michigan Senate. It would need to pass the Senate and be signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to become law.

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Michigan veterinarians want authority to discuss CBD, marijuana products with pet owners

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The CBD pet market could reach $1.16 billion in the U.S. by 2022.

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