On Sunday the Mayor will open Te Ara Ōtākaro, the transitional Avon River trail, not by cutting a ribbon, but by tying the two broken ends of the ribbon together symbolising the reconnection of the east with the city.
The trail runs the length of the lower Avon through the red zone from the coast to the city and was initiated by Avon-Ōtākaro Network (AvON), the organisation campaigning to turn the area into a multipurpose river park.
A riverside network of connecting cycle and walk ways was the highest priority for the community in Eastern Vision’s EVO::SPACE public engagement exercise in 2014 and remains a popular component of Regenerate Christchurch’s current planning for the area.
The opportunity to realise this, at least in part, was made possible when Council announced stopbank upgrade works to prolong the life of the existing banks until the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor Regeneration Plan is finalised and can be implemented.
AvON’s spokesperson, Evan Smith explains, “We secured a grant of $50,000 from the Ministry of Social Development and convinced the regeneration agencies to piggy-back a trail on top of the upgrade works. It runs along one of the banks from Barbadoes St to New Brighton.
“Work will be complete on the trail in the autumn of 2018 but there is already a serviceable trail available for the opening this weekend at our event, Meet in the Middle.”
The event invites the public to join a walk, jog or ride from either the city or New Brighton and ‘meet in the middle’ at Kerrs Reach for a family fun day on the riverside with a regatta on the water with waka ama, rowing, dragon boating and kayaking, kids activities and free live entertainment featuring Adam McGrath from The Eastern and iconic kiwi soulstress Hollie Smith headlining.
“For years the east has had this giant wound running through it, but now it is healing fast, revealing enormous potential for a stunning river park amenity that reconnects the east to the city – come along, enjoy and celebrate!”, says Smith.
Meet in the Middle is on Sunday 15 October, treks start at 10:30am from the clock tower end of New Brighton Mall or Cambridge Terrace opposite the Fire Station arriving at Kerrs Reach at 12 noon where the event runs until 3pm. It is part of the Breeze Walking Festival and Biketober celebrations. For more information visit: www.middle.nz.