Group behind flat water course proposal for Christchurch red zone says it could bring city 'millions'

An indicative concept for what the East Lake Trust's flat water sports facility could look like if given the go-ahead.
EAST LAKE TRUST

An indicative concept for what the East Lake Trust's flat water sports facility could look like if given the go-ahead.

A group behind plans for an international open water course in Christchurch's residential red zone claims it could make the city $30 million to $50m a year.

One red zone advocate warned against accepting financial projections before Regenerate Christchurch finished its work.

The East Lake Trust commissioned a report by sports and tourism consultants Visitor Solutions to assess the need for a flat water facility.

A concept image of the proposed East Lake Trust open water facility for the Christchurch red zone.
EAST LAKE TRUST

A concept image of the proposed East Lake Trust open water facility for the Christchurch red zone.

Its report said previous rowing, waka ama, dragon boating and triathlon events brought a combined $38m to the areas that hosted them. 

"There are a wide range of other sports [which] would utilise open flat water venues, including, but not limited to, open water swimming, surf lifesaving, paddle boarding and cable boarding," the report said.

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The group claims the facility could make $30m to $50m a year.
EAST LAKE TRUST

The group claims the facility could make $30m to $50m a year.

Trust chairman David Goodman said regional and national events alone justified the set-up costs.

Adding other sports to the report's figures, the windfall could increase, Goodman said. 

"The Maadi Cup is worth $14m and rotates between the North and South islands. We would definitely get that every second year or every third year. Waka ama is $8.5m.

An indicative concept of part of the proposed flat water facility.
EAST LAKE TRUST

An indicative concept of part of the proposed flat water facility.

"That's just two examples to show you how you could get to $30m or $50m in one year quite easily."

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Avon-Otakaro Network co-chairman Evan Smith said it was difficult to take figures "on spec, without a lot of evidence and analysis" what the group said was possible.

"There's lots of people making different claims about how much money will be saved and how much will be earned . . . and there's also different prices for how much it will cost to implement stuff.

"Unless the evidence is all clearly laid out and there's a consistent process in that analysis, it's very difficult to compare apples with apples."

Regenerate Christchurch was tasked with planning the red zone's future after the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority wound up in April 2016. 

Regenerate would release consultation documents and draft regeneration plans for the red zone in September.

Rowing, waka ama, canoeing and other multisports are suggested uses for the area.
EAST LAKE TRUST

Rowing, waka ama, canoeing and other multisports are suggested uses for the area.

Chief executive Ivan Iafeta said Regenerate would consider cost-benefit reports from groups with red zone proposals, but it was not a requirement.

Regenerate commissioned Market Economics to model the regeneration plans and would publish their work for feedback, Iafeta said. 

A shortlist of red zone options would be assessed for the "costs, benefits and trade-offs of various land uses" before a public exhibition in August or September.

An aerial view of Kerrs Reach and Porritt Park following the Christchurch earthquakes.
DAVID HALLETT/FAIRFAX NZ

An aerial view of Kerrs Reach and Porritt Park following the Christchurch earthquakes.

Goodman said Deloitte and TBD Advisory would do "a further economic impact report" on the flat water facility idea. 

Smith said the East Lake Trust report was "useful" in outlining un-met water sports needs.

There were more than 20 red zone proposals, which were "generally all compatible", Smith said. 

Aquifer-sourced water would make the lake swimmable under the trust's plan.
EAST LAKE TRUST

Aquifer-sourced water would make the lake swimmable under the trust's plan.

A water course was included in Regenerate's letter of expectation. Other ideas mooted include a city-to-sea forest park and the Eden Project eco-tourist attraction

City councillor Glenn Livingstone said, if done well, a flat water facility could "unite the city" and transform east Christchurch, but all red zone proposals should get "equitable treatment". 

Any water course needed to fit the environment, he said. 

"You can't just plonk a lake in out of the blue. It has to fit within the overall flow of the corridor . . . [and] complement other projects." 

Goodman believed the park had wide-reaching support. 

"I think there's a bit of a public momentum gathering for it. People love the [Christchurch Adventure Park] . . . I think this is a similar sort of thing, where Christchurch can become a destination."

video of a plan update posted to the group's Facebook page had 19,000 views and was shared 375 times in two days.

 - The Press

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