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Christchurch 3 years on 22/2/14 - A positive outlook

21/02/2014

Opinion piece: Christchurch 3 years on 22/2/14 - A positive outlook

Three years on there is an air optimism taking hold of the people within the city.

At this three year stage from the big one it is hard not to reflect on where we have come from. Some of us still feel frustrated and lost in the political and insurance battleground gripping the city. However we must look at what has actually been done and progress made, which there is plenty.

We have come a long way from those first few days of digging a hole in the back yard to do number 2 to now where most services work as they should even as the city infrastructure goes through a near complete replacement. It is incredible.

Nearly 1500 commercial buildings in the city have been demolished with approx. 100 still to go in the CBD area. Thousands of houses have been demolished in the red zones with many more to go. Roads are being repaired, houses are being built, buildings are being constructed. It is happening.

None of this work can happen quickly. Christchurch has vastly different physical conditions to what it was founded on and this is confusing and a nightmare to plan. But we are getting on with it and things are been done.

I would like at this stage to thank the rebuild workers from all over for the work you have done and for the mammoth amount of work still to happen. You are the people at the coalface working tirelessly without fuss. You are the heros of the rebuild and I know although there are frustrations felt (talking about roadworks at every bend here) the city appreciates it.

Here is a challenge to us all. Take a moment one day and shake the hand of one of the rebuild workers and say thank you.

2014 has been called the year of the rebuild. 9 of the 14 anchor projects will start this year. The Bus Interchange, Justice and Emergency Services Precinct, Retail Precinct, Health Precinct, South Frame public realm, Performing Arts Precinct, North Frame, Margaret Mahy Family Playground, Innovation Precinct and Metro Sports Facility. Alongside this activity private investment is taking shape with many rebuild plans ready to be executed.

This is fabulous news for the city. If we continue to gather momentum on top of the developments that we can see now in the areas like Victoria Street, Durham Street, Addington, Moorehouse Ave and The Terrace project there will be plenty for people to become optimistic about. Tomorrow The Terrace is pouring the largest concrete pour in Christchurch since the quakes. I find it very fitting and symbolic that this is happening exactly 3 years to the day from when the destructive Earthquake hit. It’s a real turning point. Thank you Antony Gough.

This momentum must however continue to spread to the suburbs to ensure lost facilities in the east and hills are returned and new facilities in the north and west are planned and built to cater for the increases of population densities there.

It is pleasing to see the council in the early part of this year make priority to a number of community facilities such as the repair of the Gaiety Hall, Mona Vale, Halswell Community Library, the Scarborough Paddling Pool and for a new community centre in Aranui. These activities will strengthen the living experience in the suburbs while the city rebuilds and re settles.

All the players must work alongside each other respectfully and look beyond the maze of policy and finance to see the longer term vision for Christchurch. A city where people will live, work, play, raise families and migrate to for opportunity. We have incredibly talented people in the city who have supported us moving through the transitional phase from disaster response through to recovery and now rebuild.

Activities such as Greening the Rubble, Gap Filler, our own Rebuild Christchurch Foundation, the SVA and many others who were here long before the quakes have harnessed the incredible will power of the people post-quake to connect people together for a common good. Working alongside all of these people for 3 years and more has been a pleasure. All the community leaders in these organisations deserve a massive thanks. The getting on with often thankless tasks are examples of how resilient communities are born.

We do have challenges in this city post-quake, no one can deny these but a lot of effort over the past few years has gone into community events to bring people together to keep active, participate and continue the strong community bonds we found early on.

Connecting people is my dream for the rebuild. The best cities in the world all have one thing in common; physically connected people. The people make the city with the built up environment harnessing the power of the connection, giving it free range to collaborate and grow. This is the incubator and birth of innovation which leads to a healthy engaged vibrant city long term.

We have the people, the ideas and the passion. With the opportunities of the rebuild bringing us together with the developments city wide, Christchurch will be the best little city in the world I am sure. Lets make it happen, by the people for the people.

Tomorrow from 1230pm I am hosting a River of Flowers event at Riccarton Bush next to the market where at 1251we will observe 2 minutes silence to remember the 185 lives we lost in the quakes and to those who were injured, lost their homes, communities and networks. You are welcome to come down and share this moment with us all.

We all lost something as a result of the quakes but we have the opportunity now to gain so much.


ENDS

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