26 May 2016

East Chch residents 'too nice' about red zone

9:56 am on 26 May 2016

Christchurch residents frustrated at being shut out of decision-making on the future of the city's red zone want more consultation with the new agency in charge of the area.

Red zone: The bumpy roads of Brooklands lead to empty cul de sacs and vacant land plots.

Red zone: The bumpy roads of Brooklands lead to empty cul de sacs and vacant land plots. Photo: RNZ / Georgina Stylianou

About 100 people turned up to a public meeting last night to discuss how they can be involved in making decisions about the 700-hectare block of damaged land bought by the Crown after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

The meeting was sparked by last month's announcement that the new agency, Regenerate Christchurch, had been directed by the government and Christchurch City Council to consider turning part of the red zone into a lake for water sports.

An image of the proposed area in Christchurch's red zone.

An artist's impression of the proposed lake in Christchurch's red zone. Photo: Supplied

South Brighton resident Steven Gibson said he feared parts of the red zone would be gentrified and sold off in the future. He said people in the east need to be tougher and demand more from their representatives.

"There has just been endless and endless and endless double speak (and) marketing copy. You keep hearing the same old tired cliches and phrases and you hear that all the way from the top. You are never going to get any proficient or expedient change from central government."

He said thought people in the east of Christchurch needed to do more to draw attention to their plight.

"I think a lot of people in the east have been too nice about it.

Some at the meeting were concerned that only one proposal is being considered for the red zone, despite several being advocated by local groups.

The meeting broke into groups to discuss how they wanted to be consulted and what they wanted to see by 2020.

Gillian Southey, who lives on the edge of the red zone, said there was a lot of frustration in her group.

"A lot of people in my group have felt left out and marginalised, not given the information to feel part of this community ... they felt like people were making decisions and they didn't know anything about them."

Ideas put forward included repeating the earlier successful "share an idea" project, ensuring discussion went beyond just elected and appointed officials, and that a range of proposals are considered, not just "glamour projects".

Mark Gibson of Wainoni Methodist Church

Mark Gibson of Wainoni Methodist Church Photo: RNZ / Rachel Graham

Mark Gibson of Wainoni Methodist Church, who organised the meeting, said many locals feel marginalised and left out of decision making.

"It's those people I'm increasingly concerned about. Have we found ways for them to be engaged in the process? A number of them have come up to me after the meeting and thanked me, and said that it is great to actually feel like they are part of something."

Several local politicians were at the meeting, including the new chair of Regenerate Christchurch, Andre Lovatt.

He said one of the first things his organisation would focus on was putting together information to clearly illustrate how badly the earthquakes affected the land.

"Because that presents some limitations or constraints to the ways in which (that land) can be developed in the future, and I think for all of us in the community it is important that we understand what that level of constraint actually is, so we can all think about our future with the same knowledge."

He said he was delighted to see so many people keen to get involved in the future of the red zone.

Mr Lovatt said the agency was still at the early stages of determining the best way to engage with people, but early thinking was to co-design that process with the public.

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