Earthquake Report, 22 April: Christchurch—Whose City?
Last Sunday I posted about yet another 5-point (5.3) aftershock and day-to-day life in Christchurch, which currently takes a lot of energy to negotiate, especially if you’re living east of the Hills-Fitzgerald line. I also spoke of still feeling committed to Christchurch as a city and wanting to continue living here.
(A friend in Auckland wrote during the week of ” … real estate on the North Shore …[in Auckland] … having experienced a mini-boom with people relocating [from Christchurch.]” )
But like many of those who currently feel committed to Christchurch, I can’t help being concerned about the longer term future as well. For example, what kind of city is going to rise from the ruins? Whether there’s going to be any kind of public process to develop a vision for that? And what opportunity citizens such as myself will have for input? The short to medium term hardships can be endured, but I can’t help feeling that it’s the outcome of the decisions being made now on the vision for and future shape of the new Christchurch that will determine the long-term commitment of residents such as myself to the city.
The jury’s very much out at present as far as I’m concerned, but if some top-down solution is imposed that doesn’t reflect Christchurch’s values as an urban community, then many of us may end up feeling that we’d be better off finding a city that does. But it is still early days and despite our government-de-jour’s apparent fondness for top-down, non-representative solutions, I am still hopeful that we’ll end up with a Christchurch that reflects the aspirations of the people living in it. Because in the final analysis it’s people that make a city, not just physical infrastructure (although that’s mighty important too, as we’re learning all over again.)
So the government have put their CERA solution in place—but like many residents I am very much waiting to see how that body performs and whether their plans and processes will include us—or not. There’s not a lot of evidence of inclusiveness discernible in the current model, but as aforesaid, it’s early days. Aka “watch this space”—and with 300-400 demolitons scheduled at present, the majority of them in the CBD, there’s going to be a lot of space to watch.