Councillors must be 'brave'

Posted 05 Jun 2012 by MediaStuff Popular
Posted in Business , Rebuild , Media
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Christchurch City councillors must make brave decisions during the rebuild of the quake-hit city, a business leader says.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend made the plea during a submission to the council's annual-plan hearings today.

Townsend said the council needed to consider all options to fund the city's rebuild, including asset sales or a sell-down of its shareholdings.

Relying solely on rates increases and higher debt did not provide "wriggle room" if costs increased, he said.

Townsend said the council could not operate as if it was "business as usual" and needed to make brave decisions for the city's ratepayers.

"It is really important as we go forward that we make big calls, that we prioritise the big calls and we are brave in the big calls,'' he said.

"We cannot accept anything that looks like mediocrity." 


A proposed walkway along Christchurch's coastline needs to be developed as soon as possible, councillors were told.

Christchurch Coastal Pathway Group spokesman Mike Sleigh said the pathway was "130 years in the making" and the group's work had excited many residents.

"People feel for the first time [that] there is a real chance that this pathway is going to happen and it's going to be a real asset for the city."

He said the city's coastline was "something that deserves to be celebrated, rather than rushed by in cars".

There were several successful pathways across New Zealand and around the world, which showed the idea was popular with residents.

Sleigh said work on the pathway needed to start immediately so it could be developed simultaneously with street repairs in the area.

"If we don't make these decisions now, things will happen that foreclose the opportunity," he said.


Plans to transform red-zoned residential land along the Avon River into a park would be a "lifeline" for Christchurch's quake-hit eastern suburbs, a group supporting the idea says.

The Avon-Otakaro Network, which has submitted a petition to Parliament supporting the park plan, addressed city councillors this morning.

Network co-chairman Evan Smith said the river park could be a key part of a recovery strategy for the eastern suburbs.

"I believe an overarching strategy is needed for the east as a whole, not just dealing with it piecemeal as suburb by suburb, and the Avon River could be a framework for the recovery."

He called on the council to provide financial support and staffing expertise for the project, and said it should also consider providing temporary walkways and recreation areas along the river to get people back into the area.He said the park would be "a lifeline for the east" as it recovered from the devastation of the quakes.

"It's important that the community doesn't lose its connection with the river and its ownership of the corridor," Smith said.


The council's draft annual plan, which outlines the city's budget and financial plans for the next 12 months, has proposed a 7.5 per cent rates increase to help fund the city's earthquake recovery.

The rates rise includes a one-off 2 per cent increase to help fund $767 million of repair work for the city's top 10 quake-hit facilities, including the Town Hall and the Convention Centre.

More than 2500 submissions were received during the public consulation process.

The hearings will finish on Friday.

Councillors will then consider whether any changes need to be made before approving a final plan by the end of this month.


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