Christchurch Earthquake 2011
Christchurch City councillors have lost patience with the Government and the Earthquake Commission (EQC) over the way house repairs are being prioritised in the city.
Led by Crs Tim Carter and Glenn Livingstone, the council today voted unanimously to pursue Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and the commission to get a public explanation of the commission's priorities.
Councillors also agreed that the EQC should put at the top of its list house repairs for the elderly, the vulnerable, families with young children and those in severely damaged properties.
Several councillors said there were mixed messages from the commission on whether it was dealing with the worst-damaged homes first or those most easily repaired.
Cr Peter Beck was exasperated by the lack of co-ordinated effort between the EQC, insurance companies, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera), the city council and the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU).
''We want to see action now. It's an absolute disgrace that nearly two years after [the] September 4 [2010 earthquake], the council, Cera, CCDU, EQC and insurers still don't have the kind of collaboration and culture of communicating information we should be offering the people of our city,'' he said.
Carter said it was time for the council to advocate for people who had been ''living through hell'' made worse by not being able to make progress with the EQC.
''I doubt there is a person in Christchurch who's been happy about having their repair work done ahead of the elderly, vulnerable or families with young children, particularly when so many of them are living through their second winter in homes which aren't weathertight,'' he said.
''It appears that EQC have been focusing their repairs on areas of the city that we know have experienced relatively less damage. I think that's wrong.''
The commission was ''pouring money down the drain'' by ''concentrating on the easy fixes'', Carter said.
''This sort of work can wait. Meanwhile, homes with structural damage and weathertight issues are getting worse with every shake,'' he said.
Cr Barry Corbett said the elderly and the vulnerable had to be looked after better by the EQC.
Cr Jamie Gough said time was of the essence.
''Without sounding overly dramatic, in some cases it is a life and death situation, and we have to do what is right. I'm very proud to support this,'' he said.
Cr Yani Johanson said it was right that the council acted as an advocate for vulnerable residents.
He had ''a lot of sympathy'' for elderly people who were having to deal with the EQC and insurance issues and might not live to see the renewed Christchurch.
Cr Claudia Reid was concerned the council might look like it was telling the EQC how to do its job.
''There are so many things [about this] we don't know,'' she said.
Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button agreed with Reid, although both voted in favour of the motion.
Button was concerned a letter to EQC chief executive Ian Simpson wanting answers would look ''confrontational, and we might not have such a good engagement with him''.
Instead, a ''carefully worded letter'' should be sent to Simpson ''inviting'' him to talk to council, she said.
Carter said he understood Mayor Bob Parker, who was absent from yesterday's meeting, had written to Simpson inviting him to the next council meeting.
''I still move this motion as I think this letter should be from the full council,'' he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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