Mayor to push for CTV memorial

LOIS CAIRNS AND JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2013
Lianne Dalziel
Daniel Tobin
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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has ruled out placing a temporary memorial on the Canterbury Television (CTV) site, despite the idea having city councillors' support.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel still plans to pursue the issue with Brownlee today. She at least wants the ''disgraceful'' Madras St site  tidied up before the third anniversary of the February 2011 quake. 

Maan Alkaisi, who lost wife Maysoon Abbas in the CTV building collapse, told the council's earthquake recovery committee meeting yesterday that families of those killed found the site's  ''abandoned'' state disrespectful.

''There is not even an interpretation panel to explain the significance of what occurred on that piece of land almost three years ago,'' he said.

''We don't want to see just another building there, as if nothing has happened. We the families would like to see the site beautiful and adding value to the city much like the people who used to work there.''

Councillors resolved to write to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) to formally request the establishment of a temporary memorial on the site and for it to be tidied in time for February 22, 2014. However, at a media briefing hours later, Brownlee said he did not support the idea of a temporary memorial.

It was important to focus on a ''proper'' memorial for the February 2011 earthquake tragedy, he said.

''I think you've got to be a little bit considerate about what happens on that [CTV] site long term, but we've enough temporary around the city as it exists already,'' Brownlee said.

''For something like this that's so important, it is necessary for the memorial to be a proper, fitting and single memorial.''

Alkaisi said he was disappointed Brownlee did not contact him or the families before making a decision.

He wondered if Brownlee did not understand what the families wanted, or if the minister had his own plans for the site that he was not revealing.

The families were not asking for anything expensive, Alkaisi said. He had a group of volunteers ready to fix the site  but he hoped to have some proper landscaping done.

''I honestly can't understand what is in his mind,'' he said.

 ''To leave it as it is, is unacceptable,'' Alkaisi said.

Dalziel said she had long thought the site needed to be tidied as ''an absolute minimum'', something she had raised with Cera chief executive Roger Sutton a few weeks ago.

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Families from around the world were expected to gather there to remember their loved ones on the third anniversary. If they saw the site as it was now, they could feel the city dishonoured the memory of those who died.

Grass could be put there in the interim and there was no need for the barrier fencing, Dalziel said.

The CTV building was the site with the single largest death toll in the earthquake  on February 22, 2011: 115 people died after it collapsed.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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