City's 10,000-plus ideas

DAVID WILLIAMS, SAM SACHDEVA AND PAUL GORMAN
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2011
expo
DAVE HALLETT/The Press
Caring and sharing: Thousands of people attended the Share an Idea expo at Christchurch's CBS Canterbury Arena over the weekend, offering diverse ideas for the city's rebuild.

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More than 10,000 people have put forward their ideas for a reborn Christchurch, with Mayor Bob Parker saying "this is just the start".

Cantabrians swamped the weekend's Share an Idea expo to help recreate the earthquake-shattered city.

Parker said the ideas from would be compiled over the next few weeks ahead of a community forum exploring common themes.

He said he was bowled over by the size of the turnout and the breadth of the ideas, given the city was "still in the middle of an ongoing earthquake event".

The city's CBS Canterbury Arena was packed as thousands used crayons, Post-it notes, videos, Lego and paper forms to share their concepts for rebuilding the central city.

"Council staff will be engaging with the community in a number of ways during the weeks and months to come," Parker said.

"This central city plan will only truly be successful if the people of this city are behind it."

Eighteen speakers led the expo discussions.

New Zealand Institute of Architects Canterbury chairman Jasper van der Lingen suggested that areas prone to liquefaction be turned into parks and that the city return to low-level buildings.

Christchurch City Council principal urban design adviser Hugh Nicholson said the proposals would be checked for common themes, although any single idea could be picked out and used.

He wanted the public to be allowed to walk through the cordoned "red zone" at some stage, adding: "It's certainly worse than the pictures will indicate".

Ballantynes managing director Mary Devine said the central city needed an environment that attracted businesses, retailers, visitors and residents.

"It's not a commercial story on its own.

"It's not about retail, it's not about residents – it's about all of us having an interest together," she said.

Devine said officials should stop or limit suburban-mall development, while central-city retailers would need to distinguish themselves from larger shopping centres.

"We've been there for 150 years, and it's our intention to be there for another 150 years," she said.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend called on officials to make "radical" decisions during rebuilding.

He said residents needed to understand the scale of the devastation, which he believed would take "five to 10 years" to rectify.

"If you looked at demolishing two to three hotels in a city, you would say that's a massive job. We've got 1000 buildings to deal with.

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"The dream is to have an iconic city, a worldwide iconic city. If we just go back to doing what we did before, if we just build tilt slabs or a car park, we will be cursed by future generations who will say, `You had an opportunity to do something and you blew it'."

New Zealand Green Building Council chief executive Alex Cutler said there were economic, environmental and social reasons for choosing environmentally friendly buildings.

The productivity rate of those working in green buildings was much higher than normal buildings, while the buildings were cheaper to run and had a higher value.

New Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority chief executive Roger Sutton was impressed with the weekend event.

"I thought the city council did a great job. Clearly, there's a lot of enthusiasm from a lot of people and a genuine desire to make this a better place than we had before," he said.

"I was impressed. There was also the acknowledgement that people have great ideas but that nobody has a monopoly on ideas."

Parker said a team of about 40 would today begin the huge task of compiling the ideas to gatherthe main themes.

"The highlight for me was just seeing thousands of people," he said. "I mean, here we are still in the middle of an ongoing earthquake event and there they were, thousands of people despite the fact that we should be ground down by this."

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- The Press

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