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Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 93

Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 93

The Labour Party's Christchurch electorate MPs, Clayton Cosgrove (Waimakariri), Ruth Dyson (Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) and Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central) have started a regular bulletin to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at grass roots level.

CLAYTON COSGROVE: It's snowing heavily down here. I have a meeting with Waikuku residents tonight --- if the weather allows it to take place. More importantly, the heavy snow and power outages are just piling misery upon misery for Christchurch people, who are starting to wonder when they will ever get a break. On a more positive note, the response to the city council plan has generally been pretty positive. Obviously people have different views on aspect of the plan, particularly relating to height restrictions on new building within the CBD. The reaction to the light rail proposal has been interesting. I have been hearing from people in North Canterbury that they like the idea of it being expanded to include park and ride options. It all helps to stimulate debate, and it's positive that people have this opportunity to begin thinking about what they want to see in a future Christchurch.

RUTH DYSON: Our City is totally blanketed in snow...again!! Most businesses will be closed as police warn people to stay off the road except for essential journeys. This will be a bitter blow for many of our businesses, already struggling to survive in the battles against the elements. And the inevitable questions arise about paying people who can't get to work, with many particularly small employers just not having the reserves to pay out much more when they are not getting any income. There was another bitter blow last week, with Education Minister Anne Tolley proposing to close five of the seven Health Camp Schools, take them out of the Ministry of Education regime and put them under a private social services provider. This idea is very odd, given the focus that the Minister has placed on educational outcomes and accountability. Our Health Camp School, Glenelg, is an outstanding school, and I strongly support them staying in the public education system. I also want to see them up and running again. The Camp is very badly damaged, but the school is fine and could be offering non-residential courses for Christchurch children now!

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LIANNE DALZIEL: I attended part of the meeting organised by the River of Life group last night. It was facilitated by Rev Mark Gibson, New Brighton Union Church minister, in response to Facebook's Avon River Park group, http://www.facebook.com/#!/AvonRiverPark, which now has more than 1500 members. As Mark said, it was time to invite people to come out of cyberspace, get together, meet each other and discuss and see if we can get to another stage. A group of around 50 people braved the snow storm warnings to start formulating the kind of vision that will see the River Avon link the city and the sea. I strongly support the community taking the lead in developing the concepts that can be presented to those undertaking the formal planning process. It is also important to ensure the needs of the communities who are being displaced from the red zones are met, because their immediate priorities can make it difficult for them to contribute. Their contribution to the vision for the future will be an important part of their recovery.

BRENDON BURNS: The city council's draft plan for the CBD is an expansive and visionary document which well reflects what we in Christchurch said we wanted from the rebuilding of our city centre. Green, low-rise, people, pedestrian and cycle-friendly, built around the Avon, ground floor businesses, upstairs offices and apartments. It's very positive and that's what we wanted and need. Yet there's already harrumphing from the Government and others about costs and wish lists. As if setting priorities isn't going to happen The council has said it needs to intervene; to spend some money to encourage the first businesses to come back into the CBD, to help retain some heritage. The Government's record on helping business is patchy --- poor after September, initially good after February and it's done nothing yet to help save a single heritage building. It's time for it to show some leadership and get behind what our CBD and wider city centre need to come back to life.

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