Hagley Park myths busted

Last updated 09:25 30/05/2012

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Geoff Barry, of Sport Canterbury, addresses some myths.

I received recently a letter from Reuben Creighton. Reuben is 10 years old and a student at Windsor Primary School.

Reuben told me that the eastern side of Christchurch needs a swimming pool. He also asked whether I was going to put QE II in Hagley Park and ruin the land with parking spaces.

Many people, including Reuben, know that I have been involved in discussions around the future of Hagley Park and whether a new aquatic centre will be established on the east side.

Hagley Park is a special place and I do not want to see changes to how people currently use it. I don't know anyone who does. In fact, I'd love to see more people come into the central city to share the park. I also agree with Reuben - people who live in the northeast of the city need a new swimming pool and the sooner the better.

If I were granted three wishes tomorrow, I would choose to match these three myths with simple facts:

Myth 1: The Spaces and Places Plan for Greater Christchurch Sport and Recreation is about building a sports hub in Hagley Park. It's not. It actually contains answers to so many important questions that affect local families, schools, clubs, coaches and athletes. Find it on sportcanterbury.org.nz, or follow us on Facebook, where we will answer a question every week with new details of the plan.

Myth 2. Sport Canterbury wants to see a sports hub in the central city. Sport Canterbury's role is simply to help the residents of Christchurch imagine what their sporting and recreational future may look like. Our role is about inspiring discussion and supporting the public with access to information.

Myth 3. Christchurch is a city divided. With cries of "Save Hagley Park" echoing from east to west, is Christchurch a city divided? We seem to have lost track of the fact that we are all on the same side. The Press used these words to describe me: "won't back down". How about "taking a stand"?

After all, the city's most prized park deserves nothing less than a healthy discussion around its future.

Geoff Barry is chief executive of Sport Canterbury. He grew up, went to school and still lives on the east side of Christchurch. He first worked at QE II as a lifeguard in 1975, and even got married in QE II.

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- The Press

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