Some major decisions have been pending on central city demolitions and it was a significant step forward this week for our Minister Gerry Brownlee to be able to announce plans to bring down the Hotel Grand Chancellor.
The demolition of this hotel is the most complex and difficult job of its kind undertaken in New Zealand. Safety and the impact on neighbouring buildings have been critical factors in deciding on the successful tender, which was submitted by Fletcher Construction.
We expect that within six months, the level of the hotel will have been reduced sufficiently to open up access to surrounding areas that have remained closed because of the Grand Chancellor’s highly precarious state. By that time, progress will have been made in other parts of the central city as we make our way further through the enormous task of around 900 commercial building demolitions.
CERA is working hard to ensure this work happens as quickly as possible, but that it’s done in a way that protects lives and nearby properties.
We understand there continues to be some frustration among people that there is still no general public access to the Red Zone. The restricted access is based on safety grounds alone.
I can assure you we will continue to explore opportunities that might allow people to return to the heart of the city and see what has happened. The reduction this week of Zone 6 adds to a significant reduction in the original cordons in place immediately after February’s earthquake.
We know that the headway made in doing this over recent weeks has allowed a number of businesses to start trading again, which is great news for the city and local economy. One example this week has been the reopening of Christchurch Casino.
On Wednesday night, CERA staff and Minister Brownlee hosted another meeting for elected representatives. About 90 people were at the meeting attended by representatives from Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri, ECAN Commissioners and members of the Canterbury District Health Board. The Minister and the team from CERA were able to provide updates on the recovery progress, and were joined by EQC, Fletchers and the newly formed Infrastructure Alliance. Progress reports included land assessment, the Alliance programme to fix horizontal infrastructure, EQC and Fletcher Construction work on post quake assessments and repairs, and CERA's overall recovery strategy.
The feedback from those attending is very positive and we know they’re a vital link back to their local communities. Engagement is a critical part of CERA’s work and we remain committed to this.
Finally, I would like to offer congratulations to everyone involved in last weekend’s Telethon. It was a magnificent event that raised more than $2.5 million. Again, it demonstrated the true spirit of Cantabrians and the huge support everyone here has not only from the rest of New Zealand, but from elsewhere around the world.
Acting Chief Executive
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority