Couple abandon ghost-town dream

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 04/02/2013
Brian Taylor and Pam Crosswell
DON SCOTT/Fairfax NZ

DIGGING IN: Two of the few remaining residents in their Bexley street, Brian Taylor, right, and his partner, Pam Crosswell, with Taylor’s brother, Kevin, second from left, and son-in-law Wayne Trowbridge.

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Rubbish day for Brian Taylor is a stark reminder of the disintegration of his red-zoned community.

He and partner Pam Crosswell are among the last remaining residents in a Bexley street that once boasted more than 100 families.

Next month, they will join the exodus.

Their Pacific Park dream home was wrecked by the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes, and the land was written off last June.

The couple bought the house, in which they expected to retire, three months before the 2010 quake.

Taylor estimated that fewer than 30 residents remained in Pacific Park, based on the wheelie bin count.

"It'd be lucky if there are five us of left in every 100,'' he said

"On rubbish day, you drive around and there's stuff all left." 

Few of the houses have been demolished, enhancing the ghost-town vibe.

Security guards patrol the area to offer the remaining residents peace of mind and to combat vandalism and graffiti.

"We don't get boy racers - the potholes are too big," Taylor said.

The couple have battled through liquefaction, potholes, vandalism and the shrinking community for more than two years, but are resigned to moving.

"We're ready to go now. It's got to that stage," Taylor said.

They had selected a plot of land at the Highfield subdivision near Redwood, but consent holdups forced them to look further afield to Silverstream in Kaiapoi.

New-home fever has not yet gripped Taylor or Crosswell.

"Everybody says, ‘You must be excited about getting a new house'. No, we're not," Crosswell said.

Taylor was desperate to stay.

"This our retirement house," he said. "I liked it here. In saying that, in six months' time I might like it out there, but it's not what we wanted."

An April deadline to leave the red zone was causing concern until Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee offered an extension to June.

The couple's new house is expected to be ready by the end of next month.

Taylor wanted to move before winter, but he backed Brownlee's decision.

"I'm glad the extension has happened and I hope it gets extended again if these people need it," he said.

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