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Avon-Otakaro Network to make verbal submission to committee

Media Release from the Avon-Otakaro Network (AvON) 2 August 2012

Avon-Otakaro Network to make verbal submission to the Local Government and Environment Committee

AvON Co-Chairs Mark Gibson and Evan Smith will present verbal evidence to a hearing of the Local Government and Environment Committee in Christchurch at 9am tomorrow, 3 August, in the Function Room of the Antarctic Centre. This follows the petition signed by over 18,500 people seeking to turn the Avon River Red Zone into a park.

The petition was delivered in May and asks Parliament to work with the people and local authorities of Christchurch to ensure the land becomes a river park and reserve, rather than being remediated and rebuilt on. AvON’s aim is to “turn a tragedy into an opportunity, a polluted drain into a vibrant river system, and exhaustion and despair into hope and inspiration.”

“A detailed written submission was made in early June, we are delighted to now be able to present our case to the Select Committee in person” says Smith.

Patron: Diana, Lady Isaac
Submission to the
Local Government and Environment
Select Committee
on behalf of
Avon-Ōtakaro Network

“We respectfully ask the House of Representatives to work with the people and local authorities of Christchurch to ensure that the Avon River red zone becomes a reserve and river park when the home owners have to leave.”

We respectfully request that we also be permitted a verbal submission to the Select Committee in support of this.

Executive Summary

1 Avon-Ōtakaro Network (AvON) is an umbrella network of many different interests that share a common and popular vision to turn the Ōtakaro-Avon River red zone lands into an ecological and recreational river park when the home owners have to leave.

2 About 400 hectares of land along the Ōtakaro-Avon corridor has been zoned red because “it is not feasible to rebuild on this land at the present time”. These properties are currently in the process of being purchased by the Crown and the lands cleared.

3 The AvON vision encompasses a number of areas of recovery and redevelopment:

• River Health and Environment
• River Culture
• River Recreation: “place of the game” • River Sustenance: food for body, mind and spirit • River Communities • River Economies

4 A central tenet of the AvON vision is the establishment of a broad, continuous and self-sustaining natural corridor of indigenous habitat sufficient to restore water quality, manage waste water, provide flood protection and enhance biodiversity allowing native wildlife to re-establish and flourish.

5 The historical, cultural and heritage significance of the river in the life of the city is incorporated within the vision.

6 The vision includes the establishment of a ‘recreational precinct’ in the east based on the lower Ōtakaro-Avon corridor, estuary and beaches with a primary focus on family recreation on and around water. The potential for a flat water sporting facility and a network of interconnected bike trails and walkways is envisaged.

7 Provision is made for community gardens, restoration of mahinga kai, natural learning environments and places of spiritual renewal.

8 The vision provides comfort, hope and wellbeing for communities and opportunities for rebuilding strength and resilience.

9 The vision provides a framework for the economic recovery of the eastern communities with training and employment opportunities, tourism and business potential, urban renewal and restoration of property values. Wealth generation and savings on health, water management and land remediation and redevelopment can potentially offset the costs of such a project.

10 Community engagement with regard to the Ōtakaro-Avon River red zone, must be community–driven, genuine and meaningful and permeate all plans and programmes throughout all steps along the recovery timeline. AvON supports the CanCERN Charter of Community Engagement Principles.

11 AvON works through a process with diverse communities of interest leading to an integrated package of projects and visions and a service for networking and engaging with communities of interest.

12 The AvON vision can provide a fundamental connected physical and thematic framework for the development of an integrated recovery plan for the eastern communities. The river provides the lifeline and the back bone upon which the recovery of the east can be built.

13 Specific requests are made for greater community involvement in planning and strategy decisions, avoidance of short-term decisions that compromise the vision, retention of heritage items, productive community-based short-term uses for the lands and definitive and timely decisions regarding the long-term use of the lands.3

Avon-Ōtakaro Network

1.1 Avon-Ōtakaro Network (AvON) is a network of individuals and organisations advocating turning the Ōtakaro-Avon River red zone lands into an ecological and recreational river park when the home owners have to leave.
1.3 We wish to establish a community-driven science-informed living memorial to rejuvenate and nurture the long-term environmental, economic, community and spiritual wellbeing of the eastern suburbs and of those living throughout greater Christchurch. Our aim is to turn a tragedy into an opportunity, a polluted drain into a vibrant river system, and exhaustion and despair into hope and inspiration.
1.3 AvON is an umbrella network of many different interests that share a common vision. We currently have 200 registered individual members and more than 50 organisations represented at our membership forums. Moreover our Facebook page has almost 2,000 followers and our recent petition attracted over 18,500 signatures.

1.5 The AvON vision has provided a beacon of hope and comfort through the heartache, frustration and angst of the here and now challenges of the earthquake recovery. It has captured the imagination of people because it offers respite from the present and hope for the future. It promotes a wonderful legacy for generations to come and the potential to build prosperity for the region. Such visions are exceedingly important to restore confidence in the future of the city and bolster the strength and resilience within communities to work through the current phase of the recovery.
1.5 The full AvON membership meets every quarter in a forum. Our strategic steering group provides overall leadership. This group meets each fortnight and includes people from all the main interest groups. It is the ‘guardian’ of the AvON vision and is responsible for helping the many different projects integrate their aims to achieve as many benefits as possible.

1.7 We also have reference groups of members who share a common interest. These groups help set up or carry out projects within their particular realm of interest. Projects are often fully managed by autonomous member organisations while still falling within the general framework of the Network.
Strategic Steering Group

Strategic Plan

Biodiversity & Water
Community Gardens
Sport & Recreation
Reference Group Examples

2.1 On 18 May 2012, Minister Brownlee announced the last of the red zone decisions along the Ōtakaro-Avon River and estuary. This brought the total of Ōtakaro-Avon River red zone residential properties to about 5,900. 4

2.2 This represents about 4.5% of the households in urban Christchurch and almost 400 hectares of land (about two-and-a-half times the size of Hagley Park). 2.3 The logic behind the zoning decisions was outlined in media releases at the time of the first announcements in late June 2011:

The criteria for defining areas as residential red zone are:

• There is significant and extensive area wide land damage; • There is a high risk of further damage to land and buildings from low-levels of shaking; and • The success of engineering solutions would be uncertain and uneconomic; and • Any repair would be disruptive and protracted.

"It is not feasible to rebuild on this land at the present time,” Mr Brownlee says. "Such wide scale land remediation would take a considerable period of time, and the social dislocation of such massive works would see people out of their homes for at least three years, and in some cases more than five years. In some areas we’re talking about the need for up to three metres of compacted fill to bring the land up to compliant height, along with many kilometres of perimeter treatment.

"Repair in all the red areas would not only require raising the height of the land but also a complete replacement of essential infrastructure like sewer, water, electricity and roading.” Mr Brownlee says.


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