Calls for locally-led regeneration phase of Christchurch's quake rebuild

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee at a press conference about Regenerate ...
DAVID WALKER/FAIRFAX NZ

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee at a press conference about Regenerate Christchurch earlier this year.

Cantabrians have made impassioned pleas to central Government to relinquish control of the city and let them have a greater say in its future.

The Local Government and Environment Committee heard submissions on the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Bill from about 40 groups and individuals on Friday. 

The bill will replace the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, which expires in April next year. 

Overwhelming themes from the submissions were less government control, more local collaboration and a greater respect for environmental issues.

Many submitters spoke of being frustrated with the recovery so far, describing a passive city which had things done to it by central Government, rather than a city planned from within.

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Christchurch businessman Humphry Rolleston told the select committee the government-managed recovery, under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, had "fallen to pieces".

"When you don't have a governance structure you get gaming and politics.

"[This bill] has a governance structure, which is possibly worse than no governance structure, because there are so many parties able to interfere."

He said no chief executive or board member would want to spend time developing a plan to have it overturned by a government minister.

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Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel described the legislation as bold and said it offered Christchurch "real hope for the future".

The council's submission called for the bill to reduce the continued extent of the Crown's involvement in the city's rebuild and the amount of decision-making power held by Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, should he continue in that role.

Dalziel said there was no need for the minister to be involved in the "front end" of developing regeneration plans for the residential red zones, central city, and New Brighton.  

Avondale red-zone resident Ernest Tsao – whose Quake Outcast group challenged the lawfulness of the red-zoning process – said the proposed legislation was an "infringement of our civil liberties".

He disputed the need for the Government's wide-reaching powers under the new bill, including the provision for the minister to close roads and restrict the movement of residents.

"Ten years after the earthquake . . . what good, legitimate reason should there be for this?

"These [provisions] should come out of the rulebook of a banana republic, not New Zealand."

Trent Hiles, former project co-ordinator at Gap Filler, appealed for recognition of the community's work so far.

"It is the citizen-led, community collaborative, gravel-up organisations that have kept Christchurch on the map both nationally and internationally – not the top-down government projects.

"We have demonstrated unequivocally that the people of the city have the capacity to lead it towards being the amazing place we all want it to be."

A complete lack of reference to environmental regeneration in the bill failed Cantabrians, said Ashley Campbell, who submitted alongside Forest & Bird.

"Environmental regeneration and resilience must be at the core of any legislation that proposes to support our city's regeneration... Anything else would be a failure."

Avon Otakaro Network co-chairman Evan Smith said the Crown should write-off its remaining investment in residential red zone land and transfer it to a community trust for $1.

The Trust would "protect, preserve and develop" the red zone into reserve land, he said.

"People have been locked out of the red zone for too long.

"It's a scar that runs through the heart of the east and a daily reminder of what happened five years ago."

Submissions continue Saturday. 

 - Stuff

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