Daring to be bold in the Otakaro Avon River corridor
Let's be bold as we reimagine the red zone says Regenerate Christchurch Chief Executive IVAN IAFETA.
As we embark on the largest regeneration project in New Zealand's history, we need to ask ourselves as a community if we will be bold enough to aim as high as we can.
Have we the courage to grasp this once in a lifetime opportunity with both hands and make a real and long lasting difference to the lives of our children, grandchildren and the future of our city?
Last week, following public engagement and consultation, Regenerate Christchurch confirmed how it will go about developing a Regeneration Plan for the Otakaro Avon River corridor's future.
By November this year, Regenerate Christchurch will have determined the best mix of uses for more than 600 hectares of land, including the former residential red zone along both sides of the river from Barbadoes St to Bexley. The area also encompasses parts of nine neighbouring Council parks and reserves as well as the Avonside Girls' High School site.
* What is about to happen to Christchurch's red zone?
* First steps into Christchurch's residential red zone
* Regenerate Christchurch lays out process, not progress, on developing the red zone
* Making sense of the Avon red zone
* Christchurch water course plans in 2017, but red zone funding remains murky
It is an enormous area – three and a half times as large as Hagley Park or the size of nearly 600 rugby fields. It takes at least half an hour to drive around the perimeter.
As a community, we need to be willing to consider bold and even outrageous ideas, many of which may not have been proposed or even thought of yet for this space. How ambitious do we want to be?
We also need to consider – and discuss – some of the key questions that haven't yet been asked. Who is going to pay for these ideas? Can we afford not to? Should we even think about redeveloping this land?
Even if you think the area should simply stay as grassland, this comes with a very expensive annual lawn-mowing tab – who will pay for just maintaining the status-quo?
More than 80 proposals have already been put forward by various proponents – with a forest park, a rowing lake and the Eden project some of the most widely known.
These stand alongside ideas from more than 1000 children as well as those from more than 600 people who participated in Regenerate Christchurch's recent Community Day and others who have shared ideas on our engagement website.
At this point, all ideas are on the table as this regeneration opportunity takes shape. We anticipate that we haven't even heard some of the best ideas yet – there's the potential for some incredible creativity if we can get everybody thinking.
To help spark and stimulate debate, Regenerate Christchurch will be inviting provocative national and international speakers to talk about their "Outrageous Ideas" over the next few months.
We believe there are other unique and inspiring visions of the future out there that Christchurch needs to debate. Getting new perspectives, fresh ideas and different thinking can help kick-start a bigger conversation.
Collectively we need to answer the question: "what is the greatest contribution this land could make to the future of Christchurch and New Zealand?"
To help answer that question, we've been building up a public resource of information on the area, including a Land Information Viewer. We've also conducted research to understand community needs, and we are currently asking for feedback at engage.regeneratechristchurch.nz.
All this will help us develop an overarching vision for the use of this area that identifies the role this land will play in the future of our amazing city.
We want the Regeneration Plan to reflect a wide variety of views and voices.
This is why we are offering many ways for people to get involved this year and contribute to this complex decision about what is best for Christchurch. These include:
- Design workshop: In June, teams of people – at least half of them aged under 25 – will develop various design options with a range of potential land uses reflecting the overarching vision.
- Exhibition of options: In August or September, several design scenarios will go on display at a major event for public feedback.
- Evaluation panel: In September or October, 50 people, at least half of them selected from the electoral roll, will consider all public feedback on the options and provide their views to Regenerate Christchurch's Board.
The most important thing is that the area attracts people every day and people use it and love it. We all want this land – land that has seen so much loss and carries so many memories – to be a special place for our people, our communities and our city.
My question is: do we have the courage to make the most of this opportunity? How are you going to get involved?