City Council mulls Port Hills' deal

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012
Tony Ging
Don Scott
RED-ZONED: Tony Ging wants to stay in his Avoca Valley Rd home.

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The Christchurch City Council is considering throwing a lifeline to red-zoned Port Hills property owners wanting to stay in their homes.

At a lengthy meeting yesterday, councillors indicated they were willing to explore options for funding rock protection work for individual homes on a case-by-case basis.

In response to repeated pleas from Port Hills residents whose homes have been red-zoned because of the rockfall risk, councillors yesterday began considering a motion put forward by Cr Tim Carter, in which the council might allow rockfall protection work on private or public land where it can be satisfied that it is financially and technically feasible.

The council would, in some cases, fund the construction of the rockfall protection work and its ongoing maintenance, up to a maximum of its half share of the red-zone buy-out offer.

"There are examples where this makes sound financial sense for the council," Carter said.

Mayor Bob Parker decided to adjourn yesterday's meeting before councillors could fully debate the merits of Carter's motion because they had already spent seven hours in the debating chamber, but the council will reconvene at 10am today.

Earlier in the day Avoca Valley resident Tony Ging had told councillors they needed to decide whether to spend money buying people out of their homes or to spend some of that money on work that would allow people to stay safely in their homes.

He acknowledged the public funding of private rockfall protection work did bring some risks to the council, but said those risks could be mitigated.

"We are not asking for money, rather redirection of existing funds to realise a mutually beneficial opportunity," Ging said.

Under an agreement reached with the Crown earlier this year the council is set to spend $57.9 million on buying out homes that have been red-zoned because of the rockfall risk.

Port Hills resident Bridget Casey told councillors her home was undamaged and not a single rock had fallen in or around her property in any of the quakes, yet it had been red-zoned.

"Homes that are protectable should not be torn down," she said.

"We are not nutters. We are reasonable people but we are also very determined not to lose our homes and we are not going to go away."

Council staff have recommended against the council contributing any funding towards the cost of private rockfall mitigation. They also say council land should not be used for such purposes.

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Asked if the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority would consider re-zoning Port Hills properties if council-led remediation was carried out, a spokesman said, "It's a council matter and Cera's got no comment to make".

- The Press

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