Editorial: A clear, shared vision to thrive

There is a question we can all ask ourselves. What is the guiding vision for this city?

If you had to take out a piece of paper and write it down, what would you write? The rebuild of Christchurch and Canterbury is under way.

With just two years left to run under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, we are in the midst of recovery and the reconstruction of the region is providing an economic stimulus for the nation.

But do we know where we are headed? And does it matter?

When the special powers designated under the recovery act expire in 2016, are we confident this will be a city that is not only aiming to recover but to thrive?

Will it be a city that can retain and attract a highly skilled and productive workforce, a city that can support innovative industry?

Will it be a city that is a great place to live in, to be young in, to raise families in and to grow old in? What should be regulated and what should be left to chance?

To begin to answer these questions, it seems critical we have a vision for where we want to go. This vision needs to be more than a snappy slogan, it needs to be a clear statement of Canterbury's unique place in the world.

It needs to give hope and direction for all who are here now, while also attracting new energetic people who want to join us as we move from recovery, through resilience and rejuvenation to a better city.

Some of the guiding documents we have at our disposal - the Recovery Act, the CCDU Blueprint, the city plan and draft review of the district plan - are all useful starting points. But they amount to thousands of pages and it takes some page turning to get a sense of a vision.

The CCDU's blueprint, which guides just the central city, says: "The vision is for central Christchurch to become the thriving heart of an international city".

The city council's District Plan Review released in February notes the council's vision for the Christchurch district is still being developed, while it's Three-Year Plan talks of livability, and well-designed buildings and transport.

But three years post-quake and this new council has inherited a situation where a clear vision has not been well articulated, nor effectively incorporated into the overall direction for the city and all of its partner agencies.

Even where visions exist, they have not been effectively communicated to the people of the city.

By contrast, the Auckland Council's Auckland Plan starts with one clear statement: "For the first time in our history, we have a shared vision - to be the world's most liveable city - and a single plan to deliver this vision for all the region and its people."

Can we like Auckland, nail down a shared vision, that guides the work of all?

Mayor Lianne Dalziel has done some excellent work establishing us as a resilient city, recognised internationally, she also talks publicly about the need to build a city where "people can live the life they want to live".

Minister Gerry Brownlee has called for a Sporting City, the local transport plan included the ambition of an Accessible City.

The city must now combine ambitions and the collective aims expressed through Share an Idea and come up with a simple bold, defining vision. A new small-city vision that makes the most of what we have in our stunning South Island location.

Let's exploit the lifestyle advantages we have to place wellbeing, community, recreation, adventure, innovation and the resultant productivity above all else.

Christchurch can be a place where the living is good and the people love life. Let's grow the confidence to etch this into our identity and shout it to the world.

Let's not let Auckland have a better vision than ours. Let's decide who we are and ensure we build a city worthy of the title.

The Press