OPINION: The repair of the Christchurch tourist tram track so that the service can be running again by the middle of next year should be a relatively quick and cheap process.
It will restore to the central city a service that, having been fiercely contentious when it was first set up, had become a familiar part of the city. While much of what it trundled through is now in ruins, there is likely still to be some demand for it, particularly as the reconstruction of the central city gets under way.
Some may begrudge the attention being given by the city council to the tram and the money being spent on it while so much else of much greater urgency remains to be done. It is not, however, likely to be much of a distraction from anything else the council has to do. Work to get the tracks and overhead lines back in working order is reasonably straightforward and most of the relatively small cost of up to $1.6 million will be covered by insurance.
While it may be comforting to see this and other such attractions going again, however, it must be hoped that as the city recovers other, better and more profitable, enterprises will be created. The tram, like the gondola and some other attractions, had, after all, been around for 20 years or so and even before the earthquake looked a little tired. Moreover, whether they were, in fact, a financial benefit to the city is debatable. Certainly, few of them were able to survive without heavy subsidies from the council.
More dynamic opportunities surely lie ahead. The greatly enlarged and modernised Christchurch International Airport, where renovation work began before the earthquakes, will be completed soon, making it an unrivalled gateway to the South Island.
Over the next few years, the reconstruction of Christchurch, and the new buildings, including the anchor projects outlined in the Central City Development Unit's blueprint, are likely to become tourist attractions themselves. Many chances to create imaginative new, and hopefully profitable, tourism-based enterprises are bound to arise. All it will require is clever and imaginative entrepreneurs to create them.
The spirit of success
The news that Pedro Carazo, the popular owner of Pedro's Restaurant, is back in business to appreciative Christchurch diners is a greatly encouraging example of the spirit that will drive the recovery of the city.
After the loss not only of the building that housed his restaurant, but also of his home and of his son in the collapse of the CTV building, Pedro, who is 67, might have been forgiven for finding the task of re-establishing himself too much to contemplate.
Assisted, however, by a grant of $30,000 from the Canterbury Business Recovery Trust, he is again selling his trademark Spanish cuisine temporarily from a container on a site provided rent-free for three months at Liquor King Carlton.
Getting started again was "a nightmare", he says. It took three months, for instance, to satisfy the council about safety requirements. That seems far too long. Nonetheless, Pedro persevered. That kind of grit and determination deserves success.
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