Council didn't pay for rock work - gondola

Last updated 05:00 07/09/2012

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The owner of the Christchurch Gondola says the city council did not pay for rockfall remediation work near his business.

Gondola managing director Michael Esposito said the company alone had funded it.

Port Hills Labour MP Ruth Dyson last night criticised the council after a notice about the work going ahead was delivered to residents.

She said rockfall-protection measures above displaced residents' homes should be the council's priority.

Esposito said the company had engaged a geotechnical team that had walked over the gondola land for the first time since the February 2011 quake.

The team has blasted insecure rock as it went and rolled boulders down the hill to see where the contours were and how far they rolled.

The work had been going for about six weeks and finished today.

The cost was in the hundreds of thousands.

He said the confusion over who was carrying out the work possibly arose after a resident complained to council about the blasting noise.

The council advised the gondola to issue notices to homes in the immediate area, which was done.

Esposito said the rockfall risk for the valley beside the gondola was ''quite low'', but its safety standards needed to be higher than in a residential area.

The gondola is expected to reopen this year.

All staff except one had been made redundant, so the reopening would create 20 jobs.

Esposito said the gondola traditionally attracted 100,000 people a year.

''It's certainly an asset. Once we open it's going to be great for the city,'' he said.

Esposito said he sympathised with residents forbidden to live in their homes because of the risk from rocks on council-owned land.

''We live in [Sumner]. We've got friends who have been red-stickered due to boulders. There's just no certainty.''

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- The Press

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