Tony Milne - Labour Candidate for Christchurch Central
The Te Papa Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct is one the exciting post-earthquake projects. It will help ensure that for 100 years or more the Avon River will have its rightful place, alongside Hagley Park, as one of the gems of Christchurch. It is one of the projects that gives me hope that a rebuilt Christchurch will be better than ever before.
The one part of this project that is difficult to get excited about is the Margaret Mahy playground. Because the playground will come at the cost of a fantastic community facility.
Local residents strongly back retaining Centennial Pool. The demolition is short-sighted and wrong. It’s a lose lose for everyone.
I recently conducted a survey of inner-city East residents about the future of Centennial Pool.
A total of 92% of local residents who responded supported repairing the pool. 68% strongly supported and 24% supported repairing the pool.
87% of residents who responded supported repairing the pool and incorporating a scaled down version of the Margaret Mahy playground. 5% didn't support the Margaret Mahy playground being built at all.
Centennial Pool is the victim of a failed 'Cost Share' agreement foisted upon the community by the Government and former Council.
$20 million for a playground is a scandal when the pool could have been repaired for $2 million on top of the $6.7 million insurance payout.
In fact I'm told that the insurer will not pay out the full insured value ($6.7m) because it says the pool is repairable which means by the insurers assessment it would cost less to repair than $6.7m and allowing for contingencies.
If it is a replacement policy and the insurer elected to repair the building then any shortfall would be to the cost of the insurer. So there is no risk to the rate payer if the insurer wanted to repair the pool.
This is destruction of a viable all weather recreation asset that was owned by the rate payers and a waste of tax payers money being spent on an overpriced outdoor playground that the residents don’t want.
If the earthquake recovery was better coordinated and had the right priorities we could have had the pool repaired and being used two years ago.
Demolishing Centennial Pool goes against the spirit and intent of the more than 100,000 people who contributed to "share an idea" and said that facilities like swimming pools within walking distance of homes was very important.
I've listened to residents in the inner-city East and they say that this short-sighted decision will make central city living less attractive. How do we hope to get residents living in the central city if we remove popular facilities like Centennial Pool?