“Massive” support has been found among Christchurch’s local and regional electoral candidates for a multipurpose city-to-sea river park and eco-reserve in the Ōtākaro/Avon River red zone.
The full Report of Candidates Responses grouped by ward can be viewed or downloaded from the AvON website here and the Analysis of Candidates Responses here.
Avon-Ōtākaro Network (AvON), who want to turn the Avon River red zone into just such an amenity, recently canvassed the views of about 80 Christchurch-based Environment Canterbury, City Council and local Community Board candidates.
“We had an overwhelming response with 61 candidates completing our survey of 4 questions,” says Evan Smith, Co-Chair of AvON.
“A massive 88% of the respondents supported the multipurpose river park concept with the remaining 12% stating the decision should be up to the community.
“An even higher percentage, 92%, supported the maximum possible restoration of native ecosystems throughout the red zone, and again the remainder said it was the community’s decision,” says Smith.
Mayor Lianne Dalziel, one of three candidates for the new mayoralty, put the opinions of candidates into perspective in her response: “[this] almost assumes that elected representatives have more say than anyone else… Regenerate Christchurch working together with the community will produce regeneration plans. We as a Council will [only] express a view on those proposals.”
Candidates were also asked if they supported consideration of the value of cultural, social and environmental benefits for communities with regard to future red zone uses, rather than just a purely financial return to the Crown.
Almost half of the candidates believed that such consideration was a higher priority than a financial return to the Crown, while a further 45% believed it was equally important, the remainder said it should be the community’s decision.
“Many candidates alluded to the fact that the Crown had already made significant financial returns from insurance receipts, EQC reinsurance, rebuild GST and income tax,” says Smith.
The fourth question produced a broader range of responses. It asked if candidates supported the redevelopment of red zone land for residential use.
Just over a third (35%) said no not at all, while just over a half (52%) believed that redevelopment to a limited extent would be acceptable depending upon such things as technical feasibility, necessity, sustainability, environmental compatibility or community agreement.
The latter respondents saw this as being most likely on the outer fringes of the red zone and in the upper reaches near the CBD.
“One interesting quote from a candidate for Linwood Ward, Yani Johanson, is worth highlighting,” says Smith:
‘I put forward the idea that instead of building a $400 million dollar convention centre in the middle of the city, that we should build an ‘Unconventional Centre’ in the red zone for a fraction of the price. It could be carbon neutral and built from fully sustainable materials and processes that highlight a modern, dynamic, and environmentally friendly city… The unconventional centre could be our environmental stadium where people come to gather, to learn, and to experience our special place on the planet.’
AvON undertook the canvassing initiative to provide voters with an informed choice during the elections. The full Report of Candidates Responses grouped by ward can be viewed or downloaded from the AvON website here and the Analysis of Candidates Responses here.