The grand plan to rebuild central Christchurch has been unveiled while 28,000 quake damaged homes have not been touched and Gerry Brownlee goes to champagne functions, a local clergyman says.
Reverend Mike Colman of the Christchurch Wider Communities Action Network has told TV ONE's Close Up a proposed covered stadium that could cost up to half a billion dollars seems absurd when the worst homes in the city have not been repaired.
"How can they justify putting in a covered stadium when 28,000 homes have not even been repaired - the worst homes in the city - when we've just spent $30 million on a stadium in Addington," Coleman said at a function following the launch of the blueprint.
"It seems almost absurd. A covered stadium at this stage would be like a millstone around our neck."
The just-released masterplan for the central business district, drawn up by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, would encompass a convention centre, a new stadium and sports complex.
The city will have more green spaces, and with these replacing buildings it will mean it is also smaller.
The release of the plan was accompanied by a noisy protest by residents living in the TC3 residential green zone complaining that they have been ignored and forgotten by the Earthquake Commission over issues with their zoning and housing repairs.
Colman said the EQC is "destroying the rebuild of this city" and his group wants to see a "strategy to deal with EQC".
He said: "Brownlee is the Minister of EQC and he's done nothing. All Gerry Brownlee does is deny there's a housing crisis, an insurance crisis, an EQC crisis.
"There seems to be no disaster at all apart from the things that he wants to see - and that is champagne in settings like this with big functions going. Look, if there's no one in this city why would they come into a stadium here?"
Colman said a good central city is needed but people's homes need to be fixed as well.
"We've got got 600 cases of influenza in the city at the moment and it's happening on the eastern side. So something has to happen when we've got liquefaction coming through floorboards and the worst homes have not been touched.
"Twenty eight thousand is a huge amount of homes and two years to wait is just far too long for these folk."
' Just a plan'
However, Brownlee told Close Up the blueprint is just a plan and has been worked on for nine months by the Christchurch City Council "because we don't want life in this city to be deserted".
"It's' not anything that is laid out with a work programme to deliver it. That comes later."
Brownlee said he can understand how the protesters feel because they want things done more quickly.
But he said any suggestion that the residents have been abandoned or are not a priority is quite wrong.
"We have lots of people trying to work through this issue which is largely the repair of properties in the TC3 areas."
"Don't be alarmed by that protest. It's people asking for progress because they want this city to be better."
He said following probably the most extensive land investigation project conducted in any city in the world, the Government last week released the results "for action" and it hopes to release flooding information next week.
"All the reasons for there being any slowness are starting to fall by the wayside. And I've said I think the insurers need to pick it up."
The Government will talk to insurance companies again and see what they need to move forward, Brownlee said.
He also said a convention centre and stadium are "big aspirational assets".
"We're saying why don't we secure the site, do the planning that makes those things permissible and then we'll work with the city council over a period of time to put together a sequence programme for them."
' Living on the beach'
Retired urban planner Hugh Pavletich said his concern is "people living in hovels, living on the beach out at Brighton, in cars while we're all sitting here wondering about these grand plans in the central business area."
Pavletich said: "You've got to get your priorities right and it's people in homes first before the CBD," adding that costs will blow out if the CBD rebuild is rushed.
However, Paul Lonsdale of the Central City Business Association said he is "pretty excited" about the blueprint and thinks businesses will "buy into it".
"It sets the key projects in place where people can now make decisions by it," he said.
What do you think of the plans? Have your say on our