Port Hills funding decision deferred

LOIS CAIRNS AND RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014

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Hills and Harbour

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A decision on whether to spend public funds on area-wide rockfall protection in the Port Hills to allow some red-zoned homeowners to stay has again been deferred by Christchurch City councillors.

Councillors last month received a report that said the small number of properties that would benefit, coupled with the high costs of such area-wide mitigation work, made it an "unattractive and largely unaffordable" option.

The report was slammed as flawed by affected landowners Andrew Abakhan and Phil Elmey, and councillors decided they needed more information before accepting the recommendation.

A new report presented to councillors yesterday said there were five areas where area-wide mitigation was technically feasible, but none met the minimum threshold for financial viability.

The finding was confirmed by an independent peer review the council commissioned in the wake of Abakhan's and Elmey's claims that the costs had been over-estimated by the council. Golder Associates, which did the review, concluded council had actually under-estimated costs.

"There are significant risks associated with failure of rockfall protection fences which argue against council being involved with the same," Port Hills programme manager Peter Doolin said in the report.

Elmey told councillors he had only received the report on Wednesday but it seemed many of the issues he and other residents battling to stay in their red-zoned homes had not been addressed.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel acknowledged his plea and the dreadful position red-zoners battling to stay in their homes were in, but stressed there were constraints outside the council's control.

Councillors, who also only received the report on Wednesday, decided they needed more time to study it and deferred it to their next meeting in two weeks' time.

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- The Press

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