In the path of a cycleway: 'It's a kick in the guts'

An aerial view of the two culs-de-sac the council wants to connect with a cycle path.

An aerial view of the two culs-de-sac the council wants to connect with a cycle path.

Treacy Lisle was coming to grips with her mother's death when she received a dilemma in the mail.

Her home was in the proposed path of a new cycleway, the Christchurch City Council's letter explained, as was her late mother's.

If approved, they may both have to be demolished.

It wanted to make room for the Quarryman's Trail connecting Halswell to the central city, one of the council's major cycleway projects.

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Lisle owns three of the four units in the cycleway's path. She lives in one herself, and her mother lived in another until her death in June.

All are now occupied, meaning Lisle faces the prospect of separating with decades of memories and forcing her tenants elsewhere.

"I've lived in this neighbourhood for 43 years and it's a kick in the guts," she said.

"I can't grieve for my mum, and now they want to rip everything out. All for a four metre-wide path."

The cycleway was supposed to go down Milton St, a busy road about 100 metres away. It is more direct, has an existing cycle lane and no houses would have to be demolished.

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But the council changed its favoured route. To use Milton St it would have to scrap all of its on-street parking, likely to be unpopular with locals.

The council's new favoured option, now out for public consultation, would save the car parks but would likely bowl properties owned by a person desperate to stay.

"I feel like I'm in the middle of it all," Lisle said.

"That was my mum's home for 43 years, and I've got to get rid of everything and say goodbye. 

"I've got to uproot everything. I don't know what to do. I'm really at loggerheads."

No decision had been made yet and the council was open to returning to the Milton St option if it was preferred after consultation, council head of transport Chris Gregory said.

"At this stage the preferred route is not confirmed and so council is not able to commit to any purchase arrangement."

Lisle was critical of the council, which she said had been vague on details and kept her in the dark.

She had received three letters from the council – two of which were addressed to her mother – and said she had a brief phone conversation, prompted when she rang to say it was sending mail to a dead person.

At no point had she been offered a price, seen a detailed proposal, or even been told if she had a choice, yet the public were being asked for their thoughts.

"One conversation, and the only question was 'are you interested in selling?' Nothing else.

"If anybody says that they're talking to the owners they're talking through the hole in their backside." 

The council had been unaware her mother was dead and since apologised for the letters, Gregory said.

The discussions with Lisle had been "exploratory" and would go into further detail if the route was confirmed.

The council did have the option to forcibly buy the land from her but it would "prefer to work with willing sellers for any project", he said.

Lisle's neighbours on Roker St are on her side.

Some have joined together to oppose the proposal, due to the impact the cycleway would have on their quiet, tidy cul-de-sac, and the effect the demolition would have on their neighbour.

Lisle said she didn't know what to do and resented being put in that position, when the council had another less intrusive option.

Whatever happened, she would only sell all three units together, meaning the council would almost certainly have to work with her.

"I'm in a really bad situation. I'm putting people on the street. That's horrible.

"I'm not thinking of myself, I'm not thinking of the money, I'm thinking of the neighbours and the way the neighbourhood has always been.

"They're going to ruin it. It has to go down Milton St. It can't go through here."

Spreydon ward councillor Phil Clearwater said he would contact Lisle to discuss her concerns.

 - Stuff


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