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Brazilian mayor to talk about sustainable growth

Former Brazilian mayor to talk about sustainable city growth

New York City's 'broken windows' policy for fighting crime is known and studied by cities around the world. Many local government people believe the progress made by the Brazilian city of Curitiba in dealing with explosive growth deserves as much admiration.

Jaime Lerner, the architect and former mayor who developed and headed Curitiba's changes, is coming to New Zealand next week. He will speak in Christchurch at a public meeting on Thursday, 6 November, and will lead a workshop of invited local body politicians, community leaders, planners, developers and people from service organisations (Please note: this is not open to the public).

Since 1965, the 310-year-old Brazilian city's population more than trebled, from 500,000 to 1.6 million people. Despite that pressure, however, Curitiba today is a living example of imaginative, sustainable development.

Curitiba has shown that it is possible to meet the needs of a fast-growing population in tough political and economic conditions if many strands (health, education, transport, housing, waste and social needs) are brought together and treated as a whole, interconnected system. People's desire to live in Curitiba has attracted a strong flow of investment.

Mr Lerner says it is important to start "If you try to have all the answers first, you lose the opportunity to take risks ¡­ Making a start is important. You don't have your whole lives to wait for a better idea," he says.

Local government people visit the city from all over the world, looking at how the city has revolutionised areas such as public transport, employment, open spaces, waste management and primary health care.

To give a few examples - Innovative bus systems that operate like light rail are carrying 1.3m people a day (up from 25,000 a day 25 years ago). Parts of the system is being emulated in New York. The city runs an exchange system allowing people to swap rubbish for food and transport vouchers. To help keep its parks clean, Curitiba pays its street people, many of them with alcohol dependence.

Reporters are invited to talk to Mr Lerner or attend any of the sessions. Anyone interested should call Kay Carston or Mark Bachels at the CCC on 941 8999. He is also visiting Auckland and Wellington and it may be possible to arrange telephone interviews before his arrival in the city.

The Thursday (6 November) timetable is:

- 2-5pm seminar at the Christchurch Convention Centre (not public)

- 7-8.30pm public lecture at the Limes Room in the Town Hall

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