Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Christchurch: Is "quite good" good enough?

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  • Hebe, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    I know what you are saying….but I differ in that I do find merit in lots of it. I would like the drivers and rationale behind all these big plans more widely understood in this city, so people understand what they can influence. I see lots of opportunity; it’s a city much less locked down by the old power structure – of course a new one has grown and will evolve in its place.

    The broad brush of the city will be from the planners; the city property owners will decide much of the physical appearance, and the people will give the city its spirit. That spirit is fierce and strong, and a lot more open to adventure than I’ve ever known in Christchurch. Yeee-hah. ( we quietly think these days that the rest of youse kiwis is a pack of sissies ;-)

    Enough ranting from me: I've got the flu (hoping its the three-day version rather than the ten-day beast) and I'm off for another sleep.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2880 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Hebe,

    I do find merit in lots of it.

    I probably will too. When I get over being turned off by the slick advertorial video…. :)
    Best of luck with the lurgi. A lot of it about. Codral is helping here!

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2063 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    You’ve nailed the questions we really need answered, and replied to (and re-asked when the answer is not adequate). Distribute them widely please Rob. You have it too? You need down time: enjoy that harbour and the sun.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2880 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Most of these may have been asked and answered. Possibly in this thread :) A quick list of 'what I'd like to know' before deciding on how good this plan is.

    Many have. I'll pick a few of the simpler ones.

    Why should we build a convention centre? Why should residents pay for it?

    Corporate welfare.

    Why is the convention centre fronting the square? Why not eg further north, along the avon?

    I presume there are few stable blocks of the land of the decided size along the river frontage. No, I don't know why they needed to privatise the river view either.

    Why can’t a convention centre share a space/building with eg a stadium or town hall?

    Indeed.

    What is the long-term future of the international convention business?

    Poor - but lucrative for the developers, builders and financiers. Guess whose interests this govt is working in?

    Stadium: ...Who decides how big, and on what basis?

    From the Press article:

    And then because - again exceptionally - the team was free to think building first, location second, it was able to whip up specifications based on simple principles, rather than the need to shoehorn an idea into an available site.

    "So with the convention centre, we could say that for a city the size of Christchurch - and to be consistent with the New Zealand convention centre strategy - it's Auckland 3000 people, Christchurch 2000 and Queenstown 1000.

    "Christchurch just fits in the middle.

    "Same with the rugby stadium. Eden Park is 50,000 to 60,000 people, Wellington 34,000. It's 20,000 or so down in Dunedin. So OK, Christchurch is our second biggest city, let's make it 35,000."

    Very quickly, the Blueprint members responsible for each anchor project could draft up a footprint, a building height and volume, a sketch of the necessary service and access details.

    Yes, seriously. Provincial dickwaving as a way to size civic and commercial venues. Gerry knows business cases are for sissies.

    Is there any scenario where [the stadium] would pay for itself?

    No. That's for ratepayers and taxpayers to do, while the professional sport involved extracts an ongoing profit.

    Where has our democracy gone!?! (And can we have it back, please)

    ECan was a warning. Christchurch then proceeded to vote a National government back in (though they were let down by not having several compelling alternatives to vote for instead).

    As signalled, further sweeping local government and RMA reforms are underway to further tip the balance from elected representatives to private developers and businesses.

    Support opponents who seem organised and worthy of your trust. Spurn those unable to organise a piss-up in a brewery. Encourage your neighbours to pull their heads from the sand.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hebe,

    so people understand what they can influence

    Interesting discussion to have.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Sacha,

    “Christchurch just fits in the middle.

    “Same with the rugby stadium. Eden Park is 50,000 to 60,000 people, Wellington 34,000. It’s 20,000 or so down in Dunedin. So OK, Christchurch is our second biggest city, let’s make it 35,000.”

    Dunedin is 30,000, actually. And disastrously too big and expensive.

    The “back of an envelope” feel of these figures gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies.

    Has no one heard of a feasibility study?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3884 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lilith __,

    those are for sissies as well, not decisive chestpuffers like Cabinet's lads

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I remember the halcyon days when merely widening a road in Chch took 20 years of debate!!

    That sort of consultation is arguably too slow. But we got a decision that was carefully crafted. :-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3884 posts Report Reply

  • Leigh Russell,

    I'm very concerned about the absence of the democratic process in the development of these plans. Certainly submissions have been taken into consideration initially, but the forthcoming process seems to require nil involvement with the Christchurch constituency, an old-fashioned term, that. New Zealand is not a corporation, it's a democratic society. I've developed on this theme and made some other points about the process of implementing "visions" in my article Christchurch's planned CBD ~ Rushleigh's response

    Otago • Since Jul 2010 • 208 posts Report Reply

  • Leigh Russell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    An Auckland volcanic eruption is basically everyone in the region GTFO, with, hopefully, a few weeks’ notice. From Auckland Uni’s geology department:

    Shock waves from an eruption will break windows and flatten buildings, fiery fountains of lava will set structures and trees ablaze, and base surges – a ground-hugging, deadly mixture of steam and solid particles – will envelop everything within a 5km radius. All that on Day One.

    The council’s hazards page also predicts related earthquakes and tsunami. There’s an 8% chance of an eruption taking place in anyone’s (80 year) lifespan. Which sounds way too fucking likely for comfort.

    Hi Russell, I've come to this discussion rather late in the piece. I love these descriptions of drama in the landscape juxtaposed with the day-to-day reality of Auckland's hum of increasing development and the enjoy-as-you-go attitude of the locals! It conjures up notions of an adventure lifestyle lived to the max - but a bit too hot for me! I lived in Auckland for many years and the instability of the land was one factor in my decision to move back to the South Island! After the quake of Sept 2010 I wrote my own article about the likelihood of natural disasters throughout New Zealand and found some dramatic stuff: New Zealand ~ land of earthquakes and volcanoes. Our lovely land has been produced by multiple natural cataclysms. I think our attitude to buildings could change to embrace that more realistically.

    Buildings could and should be about the people who use them. It's about people - that's why they are there. It seems obvious when stated like that but in my view it's a point that is easily lost sight of. In the present situation in Christchurch people gotta have somewhere safe and snug to live, so I say that while plans for the CBD are interesting in their way, the primary importance of the Christchurch housing situation, which for many is in extreme crisis mode, has been passed over. The government has chosen to take a very 'let the market decide' attitude which I consider a matter of gross negligence. They have much greater power to intervene than ruffling the feathers of insurers on account of their slowness. Non-urgent repairs to residential buildings which mean that large numbers of residents are competing with those whose homes have been ruined could have been avoided, etc, etc.

    It has been suggested above that the housing situation is a red herring in relation to the planned CBD. I disagree. The central city belongs to the people of Christchurch, and many of these people are being treated very badly indeed, so their annoyance is to be expected.

    Otago • Since Jul 2010 • 208 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    A nice opinion piece from Rod Oram.

    Lots of people in Christchurch want sustainability. But the council and the Government will do nothing to help achieve that beyond "encouraging" property developers to improve energy efficiency. Failure is certain, because existing New Zealand building codes, energy efficiency standards, designs and materials are so far behind world best practice and the Government has no intention of improving them.

    If you want a glimpse of what zero-energy housing looks like, Beddington in Britain is a good example. Built more than a decade ago, it is described at wikipedia.org/wiki/BedZED.

    If Christchurch recreated itself to those high, essential standards, and did so in distinctive New Zealand ways, it would attract all the international attention and investment it needs.

    It would become rich and sustainable in every sense of the words - economically, socially, culturally and environmentally. It would become a global leader for the 21st century.

    The Beddingdon development is here.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3884 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Ed Muzik,

    I think it says a lot about this government’s view on “green” issues – people called for a “green city” through share an idea, and so the government is saying “look – we listened!

    Govt needs 5 million litres of paint for quake repairs
    A rough calculation reveals that the area of the central city is around 2,000,000m²
    Allowing for wastage, cleaning brushes and spray equipment a good quality paint should cover around 10m²/Ltr.
    So, 25 coats? to paint the City green? seems a bit wasteful to me but then my maths were never that good.
    Oh wait, I haven’t included walls but then there won’t be many of those once the demolition is finished.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Leigh Russell,

    It has been suggested above that the housing situation is a red herring in relation to the planned CBD. I disagree. The central city belongs to the people of Christchurch, and many of these people are being treated very badly indeed, so their annoyance is to be expected.

    Yes, this.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Steve: the million litres as I understand it was for EQR (the Fletchers subsidiary) which is repairing homes under the $100k damage cap on behalf of EQC. EQC does not deal with commercial properties (which is most of the CBD). Sorry about the acronymitis.

    I'm in awe of your calculating ability -- numbers is a foreign country to me!

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2880 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Leigh Russell,

    Hi Russell, I’ve come to this discussion rather late in the piece. I love these descriptions of drama in the landscape juxtaposed with the day-to-day reality of Auckland’s hum of increasing development and the enjoy-as-you-go attitude of the locals!

    I had fun explaining New Zealand's geological hazards to my friend's British partner yesterday. His eyes widened as we went through Auckland's volcanic risks -- "and then of course there's Taupo. It's really game over for New Zealand if that blows."

    Given that my friend is keen to come back here to live when their new baby's of school age, this possibly wasn't very helpful of me ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Hebe,

    Steve: the million litres as I understand it was for EQR (the Fletchers subsidiary)

    I thought it rather disingenuous of Brownpants to answer a question like"What are you doing about the rebuild of Christchurch" with "Well, we bought some paint"
    Sheesh.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Don't agree. We need both. No use having fixed homes and no jobs, and the reverse is equally true.

    It is not generally understood yet ( spelt out clearly in the Press CBD feature yesterday for the first time that I can recall) how very close Christchurch was to a complete economic collapse in the months after February.

    Whatever one thinks of the government's actions now, just keeping the city going by unqualified political back-up and the business subsidy was brave and bold and totally the right move. That's where Key, English and Joyce, and Brownlee's business-type approach of "Here's the problem. Deal to it" worked perfectly. That I believe is what they deserve to go down in the history books for, not the rebuild plan.

    Infrastructure like water, power, telecoms is still fragile; the repairs are vast and the estimates for the total bill are very likely to be 50 per cent higher than publicised. The start of most commercial construction is about two years away, possibly longer -- the insurers won't adequately insure the rebuilds quickly.

    All this is not to say that people are not hurting: they are. Some are hurting a lot. But the scale of hurt is relative to what it could have been without the first-year response phase being so bloody good.

    The psychological profile of disaster effects on a community seem to be tracking pretty much as expected. Now is the angry time for many, and that will continue for a year or two yet.

    Don't expect a silver bullet: there aren't any. Part of me is pissed off at the loss of opportunity for a sustainable rethink of the city; part of me is admiring how these guys in CCDU are getting stuff done regardless of the problems; and part of me is thankful I don't have to wake up every morning with that task in front of me.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2880 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Some people have no sense of adventure :-)

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2880 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Hebe,

    Key, English and Joyce, and Brownlee’s business-type approach of “Here’s the problem. Deal to it” worked perfectly.

    John Key’s disaster response:

    And while I’m sure the short-term business subsidies were vital, it wasn’t exactly rocket-science to see that they were needed.

    IMHO all kudos to the council workers and to the volunteers for the immediate and lengthy spade-wielding.

    Key et al. were in a position to send funds for business, that’s taxpayer money after all. If that’s all they’ve achieved, I’m a little disappointed. And now they’re ordering us what to do and telling us to pay for it ourselves! Given we pay their salaries, I expect a bit more leadership and productivity from this govt.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3884 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hebe,

    the business subsidy was brave and bold

    'Brave' suggests the (business) folk they listen to were opposing it. As if.

    Intervening in the failed post-quake residential housing market against the urgings of neolib acolytes and foreign insurers and bankers - now that might deserve the term. These are timid boys not up to a huge responsibility, which is sad for all of us.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lilith __,

    while I’m sure the short-term business subsidies were vital, it wasn’t exactly rocket-science to see that they were needed

    snap

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Sacha,

    Lilith and Sacha: This is not and was not an ideological game. I repeat: It is not generally understood yet how very close Christchurch was to a complete economic collapse in the months after February. Start with that premise and detail what you would do better. And how about a little generosity to those with diverging views, even if the National Party do believe different things to you?

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2880 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Hebe,

    Lilith and Sacha: This is not and was not an ideological game. I repeat: It is not generally understood yet how very close Christchurch was to a complete economic collapse in the months after February. Start with that premise and detail what you would do better. And how about a little generosity to those with diverging views, even if the National Party do believe different things to you?

    Hebe, nothing I’ve said here was in any way meant as an attack on you. We obviously have divergent views, and we’ve both expressed them.

    I’m sorry if I’ve offended you. These are issues we all feel strongly about.

    I feel particularly strongly about Gerry Brownlee’s repeated refusals to try to fix the rental housing shortage. I had to shift early this year, and I was so, so lucky to find something suitable that I could afford, after much searching. That could have been me, sleeping in a car. Except I don’t have a car!

    So the lack of action on the rental shortage, and the crazy EQC prioritising of houses with minor damage, affects me not just ideologically, but deeply and personally.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3884 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Lilith __,

    My politics: a Green who wants results, and who knows and respects people who sit on most parts of the political spectrum. I’m not offended at all; I want people in this city to work together, bringing their own perspectives and strengths to create something better than before. For that to work we are all (and I definitely include me because I can be great at smart comments without being constructive) going to have to show generosity of spirit even when we don’t want to and when it seems too hard.

    As for the rental housing shortage, it is disgraceful. The Government has no excuse for not acting on that issue, especially when we know the likes of John Key in his early years benefited so greatly from access to affordable, safe housing.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2880 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Hebe,

    I want people in this city to work together, bringing their own perspectives and strengths to create something better than before. For that to work we are all (and I definitely include me because I can be great at smart comments without being constructive) going to have to show generosity of spirit even when we don’t want to and when it seems too hard.

    I’m not being negative for the sake of it. I want better things, and I think I've elaborated what some of them are.

    I think respect has to go both ways. I feel that Key and Brownlee et al. not only don’t respect people in my situation, but also don’t respect my rights as a citizen in a democracy. Along with every other citizen, I deserve to have my views heard and heeded. The government is supposed to work for us, and for our collective best interests. I don’t think they are.

    I want to be positive about Christchurch’s future, but I’m distressed and frightened by the lack of proper democratic process in the plans for our new CBD. As Leigh said above, it’s the people who are going to use or not use the new facilities that will determine success or failure. If we’re not part of the process, we won’t get the city we need, and the city centre will die. People, not buildings, are the lifeblood.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3884 posts Report Reply

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