Red zone to go by mid-2013
Christchurch has the chance to become the best small city in the world, says Gerry Brownlee, as the second anniversary of the first earthquake approaches.
Canterbury earthquake recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee this morning given a State of the Recovery address at the inner-city Ibis Hotel, which is due to re-open next Tuesday.
The opening of the inner city hotel was another stage in the return of the CBD, which Brownlee said would be fully reopened by the middle of next year.
He said it was hoped the Defence Force, which had been guarding the inner city cordon, would not be needed beyond the end of this year.
He said people across New Zealand had helped the city start to get back on its feet but paid special tribute to Cantabrians.
''We can all be proud of what we have achieved to recover from this adversity. Everyone has had to make sacrifices, to do things differently and to cope with the strain that these events have caused. The shared experience since then has come to define the lives of this generation of Cantabrians.''
The challenge, Brownlee said, was that in five years' time, the event that defined the lives of this generation would not be the earthquakes, but being part of the re-creation of a new Christchurch.
''Out of the tragedy comes the opportunity to create the best small city in the world, and there are extraordinary opportunities for anyone who wants to be part of it.''
After the February 2011 earthquake, Brownlee said it was clear a ''timely, focused and expedited recovery process'' was needed. The Government passed the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 to help remove barriers to reconstruction.
The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) was set up to get quick action on urgent priorities and coordinate the recovery efforts of local authorities, businesses and the wider community.
''It has been a big task, but we have now re-zoned almost 190,000 throughout the city and in the CBD. It is an extraordinary achievement. This process has been difficult, requiring the careful consideration of the capacity of the land to be safely rebuilt on.''
''The zoning has restored confidence that we can rebuild Christchurch and restore our homes and neighbourhoods with some comfort, and know that if we had a similar quake in the future, it would not cause the same level of devastation.''
But he said a real city should not feel like a business park.
''The (central city) blueprint is designed to be a place that people will want to live in. It must have the social and cultural fabric that people enjoy being part of.''
Brownlee said the city needed to act quickly to achieve the vision.
''Our city's children who are five today, were barely three in February 2011 and they will not have full access to their central city until they are perhaps 10.
"One important part of the Frame - in the north-east - will be the new children's playground. We will build them a playground from where they can view the rebirth of their city, through their childhood years. It will be the best playground in the world. Not a fun park, but a playground.
''Our goal should be that within a decade, Christchurch is clearly recognised as the best small city in the world in which to bring up kids, open a business, go to an art gallery, study at university, watch the All Blacks, make money, create jobs, build a home.''
He also wanted to see the city not miss out again on a major sporting event. Last year, Christchurch could not host part of the Rugby World Cup 2011.
''In the home of the Crusaders we missed out on what will be remembered as the biggest cultural and sporting event that New Zealand has ever held. In 2015, New Zealand will host part of the Cricket World Cup.
The people of Christchurch can't miss out again. We need to all go into bat for Christchurch and ensure that not only do we take part - we take a leading role in that event.''
''If we can't make something extraordinary about the newly recreated Christchurch off the back of such opportunities and such overwhelming public, political and business support, there is something wrong with us.
And we've proven this last two years there is nothing wrong with us. We have proven we are among the best and most resilient people in the world, and we can do things fast.''
Brownlee summarised progress to date.
- 58 quakes in excess of magniture-5. But GNS predicts the probability of a 5.5 to 5.9 shake has fallen to 32 per cent in the next year
- 190,000 properties rezoned
- 7779 properties zoned Red, with the Crown offers costing more than $915 million to date.
- three-quarters, or 5834, have signed a sale and purchase agreement and nearly 60 per cent, or 4545, have already settled
- The EQC has received about 415,000 building claims and 93,000 land claims. It has paid out in excess of $3.3 billion
- 80 per cent of the 1600 condemned buildings in the CBD have been partly or completely demolished
- the red zone cordon has reduced from 387 hectares to 49ha.
- aim to have the city fully open by the middle of 2013
- aim to get the New Zealand Defence Force off the cordon by the end of this year
- Nearly $1 billion worth of building consents approved in Canterbury in the first half of 2012, while the amount of ready mixed concrete produced in the Christchurch metropolitan area has more than doubled since March 2011
- © Fairfax NZ News