Kayakers propose rapids in red zone

SHELLEY ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2014

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Canterbury white-water kayakers are lobbying to use red-zoned land for a centre providing urban rapids and emergency flood protection.

Kayakers say they can have a white-water centre built for less than $20 million, based on the Lee Valley course used in the London Olympics.

Spokesman Ian Fox said the group would investigate whether the pumps used to create rapids could be used for emergency flood management.

Christchurch was hit by severe flooding in March and April, and Christchurch City Council struggled to cope.

The white-water centre is one of about 30 projects put in the mix for the residential red zone on Evo::Space, a community brainstorming project by Eastern Vision.

White-water rafting, the money-maker in overseas models, was also on the cards, Fox said.

"We are pretty confident we can build a business case around tourism."

Preferably, the city council would run the centre, like the city's swimming pools, Fox said.

Sport Canterbury chief executive Julyan Falloon said making the flat-water sports lake and white-water centre a reality would be complex.

Money was the biggest obstacle.

". . . there is no money in sport and recreation to build it. If you compare it to the southwest Nga Puna Wai [Sports Hub] complex, tennis and hockey have money to invest. These sports [white-water and flat-water sports] don't have the capital, so it will have to be another solution.

"These facilities will have to be built . . . for another reason. Flood management could be it," he said.

City councillor Glenn Livingstone said overseas models had demonstrated money could be made.

In April, Prime Minister John Key said the public would be consulted before decisions were made about the future use of residential red zones in Christchurch and Kaiapoi.

A Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority spokesman said consultation on land use would begin soon.

Smith said a good consultation process was "worth waiting for".

In December, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said Christchurch could become a sporting capital by putting in a large recreational water course, solving the area's flooding problem at the same time.

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