Friday, 5 December 2014

Notes from most recent forum: Weighing the Anchors

Weighing the Anchors
Thursday 4 December 2014
WEA, 59 Gloucester St, Christchurch

Opening:  Rex welcomed everyone to the forum and invited a blessing on the meeting. 

Introduction:  Katherine Peet explained the kaupapa of OVTRK and gave an overview of our Sector.  She also told how some people had communicated to her that they felt too angry to come tonight because they are so concerned that the wellbeing of people is being overlooked due to the focus on the anchor projects.  They were apprehensive that an angry contribution would affect the respect for their NGO and their access to funding.

Don Miskell, Christchurch Central Development Unit, CERA:  “Implementing ‘Share an Idea’”.
The earthquake gave us the opportunity to fix up what wasn’t working well before the quakes; implement lessons learned from disasters that had happened elsewhere, and create a new vision. 
He outlined the process that resulted in the Central City Blueprint and stated that the information from the Share an Idea initiative was captured in the Council’s Draft Central City Plan.  CCDU was set up and went back to the ideas from Share an Idea.  These fell under the general headings of Accessible City, Distinctive City, Green City, Compact City, and a great place to live, work, play, learn, visit, and invest in.  These became the strategic goals of the Central City Blueprint. 
The first step in developing the blueprint was to talk to Ngai Tahu and especially Ngai Tuahuriri in whose rohe Chch City sits.  They wanted their values and stories reflected back.  Two most important values were ‘look after your people, care for your visitors’; and ‘look after the environment’.  All the project groups have Ngai Tahu representation on them and they have a strong influence.

Accessible City means that all people of all ages are able to participate in city life.  All the anchor project plans have an accessibility audit.  CCDU have a good relationship with the disability sector. 
The flat landscape is perfect for cycling and walking.  In the new central city CCDU is not going to provide for any greater car density than before the earthquake.  They are aiming to triple the number of people who access the city by public transport, cycling or walking.  They are also slowing down speeds in the core. 

Distinctive City:  CCDU have a target to have 20,000 people living in the central city.  Central city residents don’t need a car to get around the city.  Having lots of central city residents also makes the city safer, more vibrant and more interesting.  Currently there are just under 5000 living in central city.  The aim is to have a very diverse population.  Green frame in the east between Madras and Manchester Sts is being developed for high density residential use.

Green City is about environmental health and human wellbeing.  When people talk about Christchurch as a garden city, the vision is not a 19th century English version, they are asking “what is a new garden city?”  “How do we design a walkable city?”  The cost of the Avon River Precinct includes a lot of environmental remediation, and more life is coming back into the river. 

Prosperous City didn’t come out of Share an Idea but the city needs a healthy economy to sustain the other aspects.  High density populations generally create higher wages and greater economic activity.  There are greater opportunities for chance meetings with people who stimulate ideas.  Prior to the quakes 20% of Canterbury economic activity came out of Christchurch central city; and 70% of that came from out of offices.

The stadium and convention centre will not be a stand-alone facility but will include other facilities and have multi-use.  Each facility will exist as part of a precinct that will include residential, hospitality and retail.  They are designed to be close to the city so that people attending them will go into the central city and be easily accessed from the city.

Q:  In people terms, what will your measures of success be? 
Don:  Each project will be assessed in terms of ease of use for everyone, and there will be other measures as well.  There are business cases for all the proposals.  Public sector investment is there to catalyse private sector investment.  For every dollar the crown spends the private sector will spend $6 and we cannot impose measures on their expenditure.  It has been important to define sites for the precincts so that private sector had certainty of where to invest.

Q:  The idea of having a compact city and having more public transport is a good one.  However it needs critical mass of population to make public transport cost effective.  There are also particular needs that public transport can’t always meet.  For instance the hospital and health precinct will need lots of car parking.  Is this being addressed?
Don:  we want to make it easy to get to the city but not through the city.  The city council is developing a parking strategy, and parking is being discussed with the hospital. 

Q:  The city that is being described sounds as if it will be expensive to live in.  How many wealthy people do we have in Christchurch to support all these exciting sounding opportunities?  Is there enough of a market to buy the apartments, patronise the cafes, etc?  If the city is unaffordable then it is still inaccessible in spite of the CCDU efforts to make it an accessible city. 
Don:  the private sector won’t build what they don’t have a market for.  However CCDU has very limited influence over how much it will cost to live in the city or take part in the city lifestyle.

Q:  People don’t understand the siting of the stadium.  Where are there models or examples of locating a stadium close to the central city? 
Don:  The softball stadium in Baltimore has offices, shops, etc all around it, it didn’t look like a stadium.  The street is very lively and an attractive area to be in.

Q:  Who would be in charge of what businesses would be part of the stadium?  Isn’t the CERA vision actually dependent on the building owner? 
Don: typically we do a business case, which includes what businesses will be part of it and how it will be managed.  The stadium is low down on the list so we haven’t started the business plan yet.  If the business plan doesn’t stack up it possibly won’t be built. 

Q:  You keep saying ‘we’ are wanting to do this.  Who is the ‘we’?  From the outside it looks like different projects have different configurations of CCC, CERA, and maybe others.  How does the average citizen talk to the ‘we’ about the holistic view?  The concentration on the “market” approach to social planning leaves out people who don’t have the funds to participate in the market.  There is no such thing as supply and demand, only supply and funded demand.  If you have no funds the market does not respond. 
Don:  There is interest in retaining the public realm.  I need to think more about how this can be done.  The Public Realm Network is planned to provide places that people can go to take part in public conversations. 

Comment:  Learning about what is contained in the “bubble of thought” that has shaped this plan has been very enlightening.  From the questions and comments tonight it’s likely that this bubble will be pricked often by residents. 

Q:  We undertook a survey of NGO accommodation needs.  NGOs would like to be in the central city within walking distance of public transport.   This is not something that the market is going to deliver.  If we have people we need social infrastructure and social support. 
Don:  I think you should be in the central city.  I can’t help you with how.  There is some crown owned land, for example in the south frame, that hasn’t been designated for any purpose yet.  I will talk to Denise (Denise Kidd, CERA) about what is possible. 

Q:  There are some well-populated residential areas that had considered themselves central city but they are just on the other side of the frame and it feels they have been overlooked in connecting to the new central city.  There is a loss of accessibility to services such as supermarkets since the quakes.  How does the central city plan connect with these neighbourhoods? 
Don: we need to do what you’re suggesting and look at this, it’s important for the city. 

Q:  It’s good to see that the the Blueprint is manifesting ‘Share an Idea’.  Can we have the share an idea website reinstated?  There is nowhere to find the detail any more.  Don undertook to look into this.

Q:  The future of the city depends on whether families and children will live in the inner city.  There has been no mention of this tonight. 
Don: this certainly is on our radar.  There will be the Margaret Mahy playground and a park the length of the east frame provides space where children can play. 

Q:  The quality and design of the buildings and community are important.  I haven’t heard about high quality building tonight.  For example Susan Krumdieck’s team’s plans.  What about a definition of ‘value for money’ that is holistic?  In the residential rebuild we seem to have cheap, nasty, not designed to last and address issues of climate change. 
Don: the residential rebuild is not part of CCDU.  In the central city there are environmental standards.  Response:  You need to lift the bar higher. 

Q:  Any convention centres around the world are loss-making, has the business case been made for it? 
Don: yes, it will be a precinct, which will include offices, residential, hospitality. 

Q:  Why was Centennial pool closed? 
Don:  That was a CCC decision – it didn’t want to maintain two large pools with all the resources that would involve. 

Q:  There seems to be an assumption of continual population growth.  Why is that? 
Don: we have assumed some population growth, but are hoping to encourage current suburban residents to move into the city. 

Close:  Rex thanked Don for coming along and for all the new information he presented, then closed the meeting with a karakia.