Uncertain future for quake-hit facilities

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 30/05/2014

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Christchurch communities may need to chip in with funding or hold working bees if they want their quake-damaged community facilities repaired.

The Christchurch City Council was expecting insurance to cover 95 per cent of the cost of repairing its 1000-odd community buildings so set aside only $10 million in its Three Year Plan for repair work, but to date it has succeeded in recovering only about 45 per cent of repair costs from its insurer.

The report lists hundreds of facilities which have no budget allocated for repairs including the Sumner Surf Club buildng, Victoria Triangles Visitor Centre, Corsair Bay garage and Bexley Park toilets.

» Full council report on facilities rebuild

With a potential $121m shortfall, councillors are keen to find out whether any of the groups that use the facilities might be willing to help with the repairs.

Council facilities rebuild manager Darren Moses yesterday told councillors they needed to change tack from trying to repair everything and look at only putting money into:

- Fixing 38 closed facilities, such as the Lyttelton Recreation Centre, Sydenham Creche and Botanic Gardens Tea Kiosk.

- Replacing 55 facilities that have been destroyed or demolished, such as the Linwood Library, Wharenui Recreation Centre and Shirley Community Centre.

- Fixing 47 open facilities considered critical, such as Jellie Park Pool, Papanui Library and Pioneer Leisure Centre.

Moses estimated that work alone would cost $77m.

"We cannot afford as an organisation to fix every single building we had pre-quake. We should be focusing on repairing and strengthening closed buildings," he said.

Moses recommended to councillors they defer repair work on most of the council's open community facilities.

Those buildings had all gone through detailed engineering evaluations which showed they were strong and met the building code so repair work could be safely deferred, he said.

Council community committee chairman Cr Yani Johanson said there were communities in Christchurch which had a "strong sense of ownership" of some of the facilities and might be willing to provide labour or funds.

The council needed a framework to be able to talk to communities and say, "If you want to take responsibility for fixing this, we're open to looking at it," he said.

Canterbury Communities' Earthquake Recovery Network spokeswoman Leanne Curtis said many of the city's community facilities were under-used before the quakes and if the council asked people if they were prepared to do something to get them back, it was more likely to get an honest response as to how much those facilities were needed.

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The concept of getting communities involved in rebuild projects and giving them a vested interest in their community facilities was a good one, but the council would need to tread cautiously.

"Some communities have been absolutely devastated, they have nothing left, and they have very little capacity to even come together and have those conversations," Curtis said.

"There are some communities who are going to need a lot more support ... and it may not be the right time now to ask them for that sort of partnership.

"What I would really hate to see is those communities that have been most stripped out ... passed over because it wasn't their time to have that conversation yet."

- The Press

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