Christchurch mayor Bob Parker says today's government announcement on which areas of the city will be abandoned will feel like a huge weight off the shoulders of many people.
It was announced yesterday that 5000 homes are expected to be abandoned, mostly in the six worst-hit suburbs, following the damaging earthquakes last September and February and their aftershocks.
ONE News understands the affected areas will include streets in Bexley, Avonside, Avondale, Burwood/Horseshoe Lake and Dallington.
The Government believes the land could be made liveable again,
but given that could take many years, people will be given the
option of leaving.
ONE News presenter Wendy Petrie, who is currently in Christchurch said they had spoken to many residents some of whom say want to move, other saying they don't want to leave, while other say they simply don't have any where else to go.
The Government will effectively offer to pay them out based on the value of their homes before the September earthquake and affected residents will have nine months to accept the offer.
Parker spoke to TV ONE's Breakfast this morning, just before leaving to meet with Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, who will later brief the city council before attending a media conference at 1.30pm.
Parker said everyone has seen just how dreadful it has been for people to live in a "no-man zone" in the sense that they haven't had any clarity around the timeframe for a decision on their properties or what they would be able to do.
He said the announcement will be a huge moment for many people.
* Today's announcement will be covered in full online at tvnz.co.nz and in a ONE News special from 1.25pm.
"And for those in the worst damaged areas there is at last, I believe, going to be some real clarity. And they don't need to rush. There's a timeframe of at least nine months for people to think about this."
Parker said he thinks the announcement will be pretty comprehensive, but there will still be lots of questions that will need to be answered in the coming days, and a system is being set up to address that.
To find out how and if they are affected, people will be able to call an 0800 number connected to a government-run call centre. It will be activated today.
A website will also be activated today and public meetings will also take place.
Parker said he is also hoping the government will be able to give some direction on other areas that also need clarity on their future, such as hillside areas and places north of the city such as Kaiapoi.
"These are really important areas and I hope that today they get, if not that answer, some better feeling about when that answer will be. And they now have a feeling I think for the sort of resolution that's likely to be offered."
Prime Minister John Key, who will make the announcement alongside Brownlee, said yesterday that the Government has been working hard to get the best deal for homeowners.
"It has been very complex. We were faced with the position whether we either left homeowners in a position where they individually had to deal with their insurance companies or whether we were in a position where we could try and get them a better deal."
But he said some people will need to wait longer, because of the June 13 aftershocks.
"We have had to go and do more work on some of that land that's been badly affected," said Key.
'Acceptable to many people'
Tom McBrearty from the earthquake community network CanCern told Breakfast it would be difficult to say today's announcement will give residents certainty, but he thinks they will be delivered enough information to give them some idea of the next steps they need to take.
"I think it's going to take a little bit more time in terms of how they look at their future and the offer that's going to be made," McBrearty said.
He said people are certainly looking for certainty and he believes what will come out today probably will be a relief package that is acceptable to many people.
"Not everybody's going to be satisfied. However there'll be people who will realise that 'hey, we haven't lost as much as we thought we were going to. We have lost our land and our property. But there's other things. Money can't buy back what you've lost in that area."
McBrearty also said CanCern has been suggesting to communities it has talked to that they get together, talk with each other and maybe shift as streets or as communities.
CanCern had suggested the communities discuss block-buying a group of empty sections "and then they can plan around their new community the way they've worked together in the past and lived together in the past".
McBrearty said a support network will be available after today's announcement which will be combination of CanCern, the Ministry of Social Development and the Salvation Army.
"And there will be a very large network of people and I think initially it will be almost overhwhelming. But as we plan out over the next weeks, months and year in fact, I think it won't get easier but it will certainly get better planning and communication and partnerships."
McBrearty's advice to people once they get the news on properties today is to go an talk to neighbours, text family members, get together and start talking to each other about what they have just received.
"It will probably be very broad brush initially and then they have to go to a website to check out the information about their particular property or area."
McBrearty said personally, he is prepared to accept that his family probably will not be able to build on their property, and he is looking forward to a great future not just for his family but also for the of Canterbury and Christchurch.
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