Johnny Moore: Going White Elephant hunting in Christchurch

An artist's impression of the planned Christchurch Convention Centre. If An Accessible City is in question, what is the ...
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An artist's impression of the planned Christchurch Convention Centre. If An Accessible City is in question, what is the fate of other Blueprint projects, asks Johnny Moore.

OPINION: We live in a world of clickbait – divided into opposing groups by a headline and left to fight it out in the comment section.

When lumped onto each side of a mob, nuance gets lost as fascists on both teams shout past one another.

Nobody writes a story declaring most people are fairly content about a lot of things – that's boring.

Take cycling in Christchurch central. It has become this flashpoint for people to get really worked up over, ranting and raving away as they become caricatures of themselves.

You're either a cyclist: lazy, good-for-nothing, probably Green party voting, traffic light disobeying, non-road-user charge paying freeloader.

Or you're an SUV driving, commuting, suspicious of any Scandy-think, central city business owning, capitalist pig, high-speed roadhog.

The people lost in the discussion are the silent majority. Those that ride bikes for fun or exercise or budget, people that pay to own a car but ride a bike, central city business owners and workers that can see value in Danish-thinking city planners…

These were the people that went to Share an Idea – all those years ago – and said they wanted better cycle lanes.

So when the magic 100-Day-Plan was released, this was one of the few things from Share an Idea that made the cut.

Now the noisemakers have made it to the ear of the Minister and he's threatened to stop funding the Accessible City project. No more bike lines for you – hippy cyclists be damned.

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I was surprised the Minster took this position. Let's cast aside how deliciously complicated this'll get with him and his board, and look at what it means.

What it means is that Minster Brownlee may be willing to step in and change the Blueprint if enough pressure is applied. Isn't that exciting?

And here I was, thinking the battle was lost.

But this decision changes the game. Maybe in an election year if people shout forcefully enough, the Minister will change the Blueprint.

Maybe it's hunting season.

"Hunting season?" You ask.

Yip. Maybe it's time to go out and hunt some White Elephants. Because I've been looking at a few for some years now, but mistakenly thought they were a protected species.

Should we be talking about a stadium that I don't doubt will run over time and budget?

Should we talk about whether the ratepayers need this financial cross hung around our necks? Or maybe if it's so important for somebody then maybe they can build and finance a stadium themselves.

While we're at it, maybe we should be having a nice long talk about the Convention Centre which is becoming known around town as White Elephant Central.

Because when the plan to bulldoze a block of the city and financially assist some rich old man into another financial home run was drawn up, the rebuild looked different.

Do you know the main difference?

The Town Hall. That's what.

When the almighty Blueprint was drawn up, the Town Hall wasn't being restored. Now it is. This means there's a couple of thousand seats available in that part of town that weren't allowed for.

I think a real discussion on the Convention Centre is absolutely necessary in this, election year.

And this is just the big White Elephants we're talking about. There are all sorts of minor indiscretions in the Blueprint that were pitched to me as being carved in stone.

I think we might be about to have some fun here. I'll get some popcorn and let's all settle in for a bit of election year viewing. I think politics in Christchurch is about to get much more exciting than anything Netflix can offer.

 - Stuff

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