Disabled fear rebuild will neglect their need

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 08:06 25/10/2012
Hine Moke
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ

DIFFERENT NEEDS: Wheelchair-bound Hine Moke, 27, who lost her home in the February 22, 2011 earthquake, wants to see the rebuild reflect the needs of disabled people.

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The rebuild of Christchurch may ignore the needs of the city's disabled people, the community fears.

Representatives from disability advocacy groups met the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) yesterday and were reassured new buildings had to be designed with the "highest level of accessibility" in mind.

Don Miskell, of the CCDU, said people were the "most vital part" of the rebuild and access was one of the "key drivers" of the central city blueprint.

"People bring vibrancy to a city so we need to create a central city that caters to people of all ages and abilities . . . Christchurch will be an amazing place but we have to make sure we get it right first time."

Planners could easily overlook access issues, he said.

"We were talking about not having traffic lights in a certain area until someone asked how blind people would know to cross the road and that's a very good point."

New buildings and public spaces had to be designed, considering the "highest level of accessibility".

"But [the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority] can't get its point across to all the development that will happen so we just have to make sure the anchor projects we are in charge of are done incredibly well."

He hoped other developers would "follow suit".

BJ Clark, of CCS Disability Action, said he had noticed major flaws with some new developments. "If we aren't getting things right now then how are we going to be getting it right in the future . . . that's my main concern and I know other people share it."

Hine Moke, 27, lost her Waltham house in the February 2011 earthquake and spent one week in a welfare centre before finding somewhere to live in St Albans.

"There's five pharmacies that I could easily go to but I can only go to one of them because the others just aren't accessible."

Moke said people with disabilities had struggled with transport, access and employment since the quakes.

"Our needs are a little different and I'm concerned that they're not going to be taken into account."

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- The Press

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