No red zone decisions made on city's red zone - Regenerate Christchurch
Christchurch's new recovery agency says it will consider all proposals for the city's red zone, despite a rowing lake being singled out by local and central Government.
In a letter of expectations to Regenerate Christchurch chairman Andre Lovatt, the council and Crown said they wanted the organisation to assess the feasibility of a water facility to host international events in the Avon River corridor.
The trust lobbying for a flat-land water course to be built near Kerr's Reach admitted being surprised about the project's inclusion in the letter, while some community groups criticised the perceived favouritism.
Lovatt said the proposed lake was a complex project, both financially and in an engineering sense, and being asked to consider the feasibility did not mean it was a done deal.
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"I acknowledge the concerns some have about how it looks, but the reality is there's been no decisions made."
Given the size of the red zone many proposals could eventuate, he said.
The letter, signed by Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and the Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration Gerry Brownlee, also said Regenerate Christchurch must consider options for the red zone that would offer a financial return to the Crown.
Ashley Campbell, from Greening the Red Zone, said deciding what red-zoned land should be used for needed to be a "dispassionate, unbiased" process.
"I could go on forever about why we need the land to be turned into forest and wetlands and the rowing guys could do the same about the lake and the Eden Project guys could do the same too.
"But we have to find what is best for Christchurch . . . by proper analysis and comparison of the proposals."
It was "quite extraordinary" that one proposal had been singled out, she said, and it gave the perception that the "powers that be" had a favourite.
However, the ball was in Regenerate Christchurch's court, she said.
"It says they have to do feasibility study of the rowing lake, that's fine, but they haven't been told not to do feasibility studies for anything else."
Burwood-Pegasus councillor Glenn Livingstone said the proposed lake would be a great asset for Christchurch's eastern suburbs.
Robust public consultation would be the key to getting it over the line, he said.
In a Facebook post, Livingstone said favouritism of one proposed project over another was "unacceptably disrespectful" to other groups.
"This sort of thing can only work if you take people with you."
Livingstone and New Brighton Reverend Mark Gibson would organise a public meeting to discuss the future of the red zone, he said.
Canterbury Rowing Association regional manager John Wylie said the need for a flat-land water facility was "long overdue".
"The Avon River is grossly overcrowded, the river has narrowed . . . and this has limitations in terms of the growth [of the sport] as well."
There was strong community support for the project, which would turn the eastern suburbs into a "natural sporting hub", Wylie said.
Earlier this week, the chairman of the East Lake Trust David Goodman was unable to say how much such a project would cost but did not believe it could be solely funded privately.
An October 2014 research report by former city councillor Chrissie Williams said a 2004 cost estimate of the proposed Lake Isaac Watersports Park near the airport was $30.4 million.