$15m to connect Avon River to sea

Last updated 11:55 04/10/2013
Rod Carr

BIG DONATION: Christchurch Earthquake Appeal trustee Rod Carr announces the grant.

Avon 6
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A petition is asking the Government to ensure the Avon River red zone areas become reserves and river parks when home owners have to leave. Peter Beck blesses the petition at the Christchurch Yacht Club.

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A planned river park from central Christchurch to New Brighton has received a $15 million windfall.

The Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust said today that it was committing $15m towards projects that will connect Te Papa Otakaro-Avon River precinct at Fitzgerald Ave through eastern Christchurch to the sea.

It is the trust's largest grant yet.

Specific projects for funding have not yet been selected by trustees, but could include permanently restoring environmental, recreation and sporting features, wetlands, walkways, cycleways, public performance spaces, community spaces and play areas.

Some projects could start soon, while others may take a year or two as the future use of land was identified.

''With this grant, we intend to leave a public legacy that honours the thousands of people who generously donated,'' appeal trustee Rod Carr said.

The Avon-Otakaro Network (AvON) was "over the moon" with the funding, co-chair Evan Smith said.

AvON wants to see the Avon River residential red zone land become a publicly owned ecological and recreation reserve, linking the precinct in the CBD to the coast.

"While there is still much to be resolved about the residential red zone lands, there is no debate at all about the need for better connections and community building," Smith said.

"This announcement is a vitally important step to physically achieving that."

Fellow co-chair Mark Gibson said: "This funding, and the commitment to working with the community, helps to turn part of our vision into reality.

"This is a real opportunity to build our future together."

Christchurch City councillor Peter Beck, who spoke on behalf of the people of the eastern suburbs, said the announcement was "music to our ears".

"The east of Christchurch includes the most damaged areas of the city. Eastern Vision encourages collaborative conversations, getting everyone around the table. We are here to ensure local people are heard."

Beck said the grant would not just help the east but would help with "re-connecting the east with the rest of the city".

"It's about re-establishing the importance of the Avon River in the heart of the city."

The appeal trust raised $100.4m in pledges and received funds between February 27, 2011, and June 30 this year.

In the 2012-13 financial year it received $2.6m in new pledges and donations, including from about 1200 New Zealanders who donated their tax rebates ($325,700).

''This generosity has enabled trustees to fund many more projects and it really is a privilege to have funds remaining to help a wide range of communities as Canterbury continues to recover, three years after the September 2010 earthquakes," Carr said.

Of the total, $77.54m grants had been approved for distribution, $17.34m was still available (of which $2.5m has since been allocated) and $5.51m had been allocated to specific purposes.

The trustees intend to allocate the remaining appeal funds by early next year.

After that, all grants will continue to be administered and monitored by the Department of Internal Affairs until the end of the trust's 10-year lifetime.

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The trust was set up to provide relief to communities in quake-hit Christchurch and Canterbury.

Other trust donations and pledges include:

- $145,600 for the quake-damaged Avon Park Bowling Club in Christchurch.

- Water attractions at the new council sports centre for the eastern suburbs.

- Rangiora Showgrounds repair.

- Repairing walkways, cycleways and other public amenities along the Kaiapoi River.

- iPads, netbooks and software for primary school children.

- Arts Centre restoration.

- Re:Start mall.

- The temporary AMI Stadium.

- St John emergency equipment.

- Isaac Theatre Royal.

- Repairing sports fields and netball and tennis courts.

- The Press


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