City wants pools, sports fields first

A rebuilt rugby stadium is way down the list of priorities for Christchurch residents, who say they want their swimming pools and sports fields fixed first.

The Press' local issues survey of 359 people by Opinions Market Research shows 91 per cent consider the rebuilding of public sports facilities as important – 14 per cent saying it is "extremely important" and 47 per cent "very important".

Only 67 per cent said rebuilding the rugby stadium was important, although 14 per cent felt it was extremely important. Thirty-three per cent said it was unimportant.

A proposed central-city sports centre is similarly seen as a lesser priority, with 63 per cent ranking it as important and 35 per cent as unimportant.

Eighty-eight per cent rated tourism facilities as important, 87 per cent said rebuilding the Town Hall was a priority, 81 per cent were impatient for the Avon River redevelopment to go ahead, 80 per cent considered the Christchurch Art Gallery's reopening as urgent, and 79 per cent each saw Cathedral Square and the convention centre as priorities.

The city's heritage buildings were considered less significant, with 69 per cent saying their rebuild was important but 30 per cent thinking it was not.

The same percentage thought that the rebuild of the Isaac Theatre Royal was important, while 28 per cent said it was not.

In terms of public services, 97 per cent classified the redevelopment of Christchurch Hospital as important, 47 per cent of them saying it was extremely important and 38 per cent considering it very important.

Eighty-eight per cent believed a new central-city police station was important and 86 per cent said the same about the central library.

Dedicated cycle lanes in the rebuilt city were seen as important by 78 per cent of the full sample, and by 80 per cent of the 300-strong Christchurch-only group, while of the wider sample 77 per cent said public car parks were important.

The Christchurch City Council's controversial commuter rail idea split the full sample 50 per cent to 49 per cent in terms of its importance, but the city group was less convinced of its merits, with 47 per cent considering it important and 52 per cent unimportant.

Opinions Market Research director Karen Selway said this indicated a "desire for an eco-friendly and clean, green image" for the city.

"Dedicated cycle lanes were ranked as important in the rebuild as public car parks.

Of note, commuter rail was of higher importance to Waimakariri and Selwyn residents than Christchurch residents, possibly indicating the future satellite nature of these communities from a work-and-life perspective. "Commuter rail was also more important to the younger generation."

The poll showed it was crucial for the city to rebuild services in the order desired by residents, Selway said.

"Essential services were rated highest, especially Christchurch Hospital. This research has captured the rebuild aspirations of residents alongside the voices of those still struggling with day-to-day services and life.

"It is important that these day-to-day living issues be resolved for us to move forward in unison with the rebuilding of our Christchurch."

Stadium options unpopular

Options for rebuilding or repairing AMI Stadium in Waltham have failed to strike a chord with a representative group of greater Christchurch residents.

The Opinions Market Research poll asked 359 people in Christchurch City and the Waimakariri and Selwyn districts what they thought about the draft annual plan's options for the earthquake-damaged stadium.

All six options were more unacceptable than acceptable to those surveyed. The least unacceptable option was option 4, for a covered, 30,000-capacity stadium, which was acceptable to 40 per cent but not acceptable to 55 per cent.

Option 1, to repair the existing stadium, was accepted by 35 per cent but rejected by 57 per cent, while option 3, an uncovered stadium for 30,000, was acceptable to 30 per cent but not to 62 per cent.

A like-for-like rebuild - option 2 - was OK for 26 per cent of the group but not OK for 68 per cent.

Proposed 35,000-seat stadiums were least popular.

Option 6, for a covered facility of that size, was acceptable to 24 per cent and rejected by 69 per cent. The most disliked option, for an uncovered larger stadium, found favour with 14 per cent of the group and was dismissed by 79 per cent.

Opinions Market Research director Karen Selway said the low levels of acceptability might be a reflection of a lack of familiarity with the draft annual plan.

Christchurch's cold winters and the need for a covered stadium were common themes in the responses, she said.

The Press