Today, like so many Christchurch people, I have been reflecting on the last four years. It is a poignant sort of day, even the sky has been weeping for the 185 deceased and the 400,000 living victims still struggling to recover, many of us still with unresolved Insurance, employment and housing issues.
Today is “Road Cone memorial day”. The city is bedecked with flowers in every road cone, (and we have thousands of them!) placed by citizens grieving for the deceased, the hurt, the walking wounded, the frustrated, trapped and generally P.. off…. The cones are a symbol of remembrance, sadness and frustration.
There is a palpable sense of loss in the city today. I am watching the tourists wander up and down High Street taking photos. I wonder what they think as they look at the street. High Street is the last area in the city to remain in the same condition as it was on the 22 February 2011. Still behind the Red Zone fencing trapped in a time warp. And it is so easy to fix! It could so easily be a showcase area of the city.
Now 4 years on from the 22nd February 2011 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch I ask “What have we achieved”?
Millions of dollars have been spent by the government. (I am not quite sure where all the money has gone). Almost all the projects that CERA has initiated are either stalled, delayed or on “hold”.
- “The Avon River Precinct was due to be finished by the end of this year, but the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) has extended that timeline to mid-2016”. (Incidentally, I notice that buried in the article on the delayed Avon River project is a comment worth noting: “Landscape architect Di Lucas said the work on the river was substandard, particularly the “in-stream” work that had included substantial use of volcanic rock in what was a soft sedimentary system”. Whoops! Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/64820533/Delayed-Avon-River-Precinct-revamp-threatens-tourism
- The Convention centre: Looks like more like a white elephant every day. Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10661310/Convention-centre-might-be-white-elephant
- Covered Stadium: Think “Definitely White Elephant”, a permanent $253 million stadium, with a completion date pushed out to 2019.
- Public Spaces: “construction of public spaces in the south frame between Madras St and Hagley Ave now happening in 2016
- Delayed: “the development of recreational and commercial attractions for the Square also rescheduled to finish, six months later than planned, in the third quarter of 2016”. And they still have not made a decision about the Cathedral! The Cathedral is actually in my opinion a “no brainer”. It is the heart and soul of the city. Get it sorted. It does not have to be repaired exactly as it was, but elements of the old building need to be retained. It is repairable! Look at the roof line, its near perfect.
- Now 4 years down the track, the plans for the south frame have been radically altered. Link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/65097936/Land-prices-shrink-Christchurchs-south-frame The CCDU has spent $25 million purchasing land for public works in the frame (excluding the innovation and health precincts) but the land designation has been fully, or partially, lifted on 54 per cent of the properties. The final plan for the frame is still to be developed. “It’s been a protracted, frustrating process. We’ve been in negotiations [with the CCDU] for years but we’ve never been offered any money for our sites””. Many of us have been now told that the designations on our buildings have been lifted. This may sound like good news, but in the meantime many of the building owners have made plans to relocate or close down. Now they are being told that this confiscation is not going to happen, or in some cases, only a proportion of the land will be taken.
- We have now been told that it will be another 9 months plus in limbo land before we get told the layout of the lane ways that run through the south frame. (This means that we are still unable to rebuild our toilet block at the back of our building). This effectively renders our building un tenantable. Despite being earthquake strengthened and repaired. At this rate this will mean an un tenantable building for effectively 6 years. (5 waiting for CCDU to come up with a plan and 1 year to build.)
So whats new in High Street??? Nothing much.
- No Amended Building Consent yet….. The CCC is threatening to cancel our Amendment. Again! (It will make their figures look better!)
- Therefore No gib on the ceiling yet….. This building consent issue is pure insanity. ( I was told by a leading Engineer in the city recently “that I was not alone in my frustration”. I was told it is a common problem, totally ignored by the powers that be.
- No lane way plan, another 9 months-1 year to wait before CCDU gets its act together.
- No parking wardens, yet…. much to our irritation, as long-term parking by the poly students is causing us grief.
- The near constant smell of sewerage at the back of the Duncan’s Buildings is unpalatable…. say no more!
- Apparently the street scape plan for High Street is due in 3 years…..
- No information from CCDU about the fate of the 7 Duncan’s Building units that they own…. No repair strategy in place….
- Now This: Roger Sutton resigns. Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/63292588/Roger-Sutton-resigns-with-regrets “He may well be proud”….under CERA’s administration, the National government has been responsible for the largest and most rapid social disruption/dislocation of the poorest sections (East siders) of the population that has every occurred in any city in New Zealand in recent times. The Speed with which this dislocation occurred, the bullying and misinformation that we were given, the unnecessary suffering and pain that was inflicted will remain with these displaced people for many years. The number of our elderly who died prematurely as a result of this dislocation is a sad indictment of the way this was handled. It was and is still a form of prolonged TORTURE. I personally see nothing that I could be proud of in the way this event has been handled. And people wonder why we are grumpy???
- This resignation has been closely followed by that of Warrick Issacs. Did he jump or was he pushed? I wonder??? The Press coverage of this Issue was totally unbalanced and Issacs has stated that he: “had found dealing with the heritage issues challenging”. “It’s been the hardest part of my job, having to make those decisions knowing they are not going to please everybody. Yeah Right that made me choke on my wheatbix. I might point out that he did not, as far as I know, challenge any of the section 38’s (demolish orders) that were put in front of him. And he signed off over 1000. http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/65992629/Rebuild-chief-Warwick-Isaacs-quits-for-Stonewood-Homes-role
Now its Minister Brownlee’s turn…… I am waiting……..
- Victoria Square: For some mysterious reason the “powers that be” in charge of CCDU has decided to revamp Victoria Square. Go figure. Why mess with it at the moment, save the money for something useful. Sure fix the river bank and do repairs but spend 7 Million? Why??? The public up roar about the waste of 7 million dollars warms the frozen cockles of my heart. I just do not get it, can they really not read the mood of the Christchuch people??? Link Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/10627083/Victoria-Square-revamp-startles
- A comment by “darkhorse” on stuff, sums up Christchurch and says it all really. link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/63769088/Sensitive-meeting-off-limits-to-public “In the same time that this lot have been trying to fix the city Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin had fought and won the second world war while at the same time transforming all of the major technologies of the day including inventing the jet engines, the computer and the atomic bomb. Simple difference is that they were leaders with courage and vision where as this lot are just hopeless muddlers..”
I wish I had a $1 for every photo the tourists take of our street, it would pay for the repairs of one unit at least! There are hundreds of tourists coming to our end of High Street every day. It has become the “show case” area of the city. All for the wrong reasons.