Avoca Valley residents protest at delays

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 10:02 22/05/2012

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Dozens of Christchurch residents took to the streets with placards today, calling for a decision on their homes.

The Avoca Valley residents, who have been barred from their homes for almost 15 months, fear they will never be allowed to return.

The Avoca Valley Earthquake Recovery Authority, a group for those living in Avoca Valley Rd, held a public protest at the intersection of Avoca Valley and Port Hills roads at 8am today.

Signs reading "Caught Between A Rock And An Incompetent Council" and "Red or Green, No In Between" illustrated their frustration as they lined the footpath.

About 35 houses on one side of the street were red-stickered after the February 2011 earthquake because of rockfall risk and are still white-zoned.

A large sign will be erected at the corner and will be updated each day to show the total number of days residents have been kept out of their homes - more than 450 so far.

Spokesman Ralph Bungard said remediation work was done in the area after the quake and no rockfalls had occurred since, but residents were still not allowed back.

The group was worried a blanket approach would be applied to Port Hills areas that experienced rockfalls during the quake, meaning people could be permanently banned from their homes even if they were not at risk.

Many residents were also concerned about a possible lack of communication between the city council, which issued the red stickers, and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, which was responsible for land zoning.

That could result in the land being zoned green, but people still not being allowed in their red-stickered houses, Bungard said.

The community was feeling disempowered, and today's protest was a way to be proactive, he said.

Most people wanted to stay in the valley, he said, but a few wanted to move. "Either way, we need a decision." 

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