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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rates and damaged properties.

The Council announced yesterday that it would give further consideration to rates relief for those with property damage. There will be something about this in the rates instalments being sent out this week. The announcement can be found here.

Background

Last year the CCC approved rates relief to assist those whose property was damaged by the earthquakes in September and December. The rates relief package was controversial, however any prospect of discussion on them came to a halt on February the 22nd. Here are a couple of posts relating to this: here and here (part 1 of 4).

 The package approved was specifically for last year's earthquakes and so could not be applied to any damage resulting from the February 22nd earthquake.

22nd of February earthquake.

The Council will consider a rates relief package for properties damaged as a result of the February 22nd earthquake. This will be done in the next month, and ratepayers will be advised of the decision when it is made.

What the announcement says:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Policing of speed limits is back in the eastern suburbs

From this evening's Civil Defence media release.
Roading - 30 kph speed limits introduced in eastern suburbs
Reduced speed limits are being introduced on earthquake damaged roads in Christchurch's eastern suburbs to prevent further deterioration and allow for repairs.
Police will be enforcing the new 30 kph speed limits in the following areas: Avondale, Avonside, Burwood, Clifton/Richmond Hill, Dallington, Ferrymead, Horseshoe Lake, New Brighton, North New Brighton, Parklands, Richmond, St Andrews/Mt Pleasant/Balmoral Hill, Sumner, Waimari Beach/Northshore.
The reduced speed limit will remain in place until the roads have been repaired.
In our area, every road is designated as having a 30 kph speed limit, except for Woodham Road. Maps of the roads with speed restrictions can be downloaded from here.

The Wizard's S.O.S

The Wizard has issued an SOS (Save our Soul).

Strongly against the secret initiatives currently being taken to redesign the city before we, the citizens, get a look-in, the Wizard has launched a web site airing his views. Amongst those who have upset him are the experts who have taken it upon themselves to find the best way forward for Christchurch. He also raises questions of safety and aesthetics. 

It is worth a visit, and you can find it here.
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Community Engagement - Part 2

The idea of engaging with communities sounds nice, but more than a bit vague. What does it mean? And connecting, what does that mean? It looks like we will have to wait until the second meeting to find out what is behind these words.

Owning our own recovery has to be more than just connecting, community groups, community well being, and enabling (whatever is meant by these terms). This psycho social approach might just work in a small town, where a big industry has closed down, but it isn't going very far in our earthquake zone.

There is a risk that all this communities' work will become too narrowly focussed, fragmenting the city rather than uniting it, creating separate development rather than joint development. It also risks diverting attention from what has been learned in the last seven months, and stifling the desire to make structural changes that will better support and protect us in future emergencies.

Anyway, enough of the professional helpers for now. We need to have a view of "life as it should be", which requires figuring out what in Christchurch worked, and keeping it; what didn't, and disposing of it; and identifying what new things are needed.

In doing this two things must happen together: we plan for the future by describing the new city and its communities (the two are inseparable), and learn from the past by making better preparations for any future disaster. It is folly to think we are beyond the disaster phase, as was the mindset leading up to the 22nd, there are things to prepare for other than earthquakes and now is the best time to do that.

This is something we can do on our own, and feed up the chain. The best place to start is that which is still fresh in our minds: February 22nd and the city's state of preparedness.  We can do our own analysis of what happened, what succeeded, what didn't, why, and what ought to be done differently.

Once we have a handle on that, and maybe a geotech report, we can then look at local and city issues.

With your input the usual suspects on the committee will do this (anyone want to volunteer to assist?). To this end I will tomorrow send out to the mailing list a request for your comments and observations etc.
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Community Engagement - Part 1

On Tuesday there was a Community Engagement meeting set up under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and the Christchurch City Council (CCC). The purpose was to have a conversation about us owning our community recovery.

The majority of those present were from MSD or CCC.

Note: the next few paragraphs talk about the pilot scheme and involve jargon, if these sorts of things bore you skip down to the bottom bit.

The meeting was part of a pilot scheme in Aranui and Avonside/Dallington to look at ways of engaging the community in conversations about earthquake recovery, so communities own their own recovery. [note: these are the words from the invitation to the meeting].
"Now that we have all had some time to assess response issues and have some conversations and connections following the February 22nd earthquake, we would like to facilitate an initial conversation around the earthquake recovery process.
We are implementing a pilot engagement project for two neighbourhoods in the Eastern and Central Suburbs - Aranui and Avonside/Dallington. The intention is that the pilot will be developed to be successfully replicated around relevant areas of the city.
You have been identified as a leader in your community and we would appreciate your input to ensure we get this very important next step right. We share your view that local communities need to own their own recovery. With this in mind we would like you to provide us with advice and guidance on the best way to progress this in your community.
The meeting will be held at the Wainoni Methodist Church, 878 Avonside Drive, on Tuesday 5th April from 3-4.30pm.
In order to make the most of your time, recognising you are all extremely busy and attending a lot of meetings at present, we would like you to consider the following topics prior to the meeting:
  • What is the best way to connect with your communities
  • Where are your natural community meeting places
  • What local community well being information can you/your group share about what is happening/not happening in your community
  • What earthquake related community programmes have you/your group initiated
  • What needs to be considered in the design of the process given your local knowledge of the community
  • What role do you envisage for yourself/your group as an enabler for long term recovery

There were conversations (it appears we don't discuss things any more), first around how things felt now (write down what you did yesterday), then about how agencies could communicate with communities, and how communities communicated within themselves.

Notes were taken and no doubt there will be feedback to the participants.

Bottom bit

All this was well and good. However it is clear to me that this deals with only part of the expectations of those who represented actual communities (the smaller part of those attending).

There was reluctance to look at how the experiences of February 22nd had lead to:
  • where we are now,
  • the discoveries of things that had not worked well, or at all,
  • the passion to fix those problems now,
  • the priorities and aspirations we now have.
There was no discussion of what happened, what didn't happen, what failed, what succeeded, why, and if it were to happen all over again what we would have done differently.

Something developed in isolation from these survivor experiences is going to be somewhat hollow, and unlikely to retain support much into the future.

More on this in the next post.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

EQC geotech interpretative reports

All the interpretative geotech reports were due out by the end of March. Only two new reports have been released, and nothing in our area.

The reports are based on geotechnical work undertaken last year, which involved analysing data from new and existing boreholes. Despite the February 22nd earthquake the structure of what is under the surface has not changed. How it behaved has been different, and may have altered the thinking of the geotechnical specialists, but what is underneath is still the same. This is reinforced by the absence of any large scale geotech work in the area since last year.

The newly released reports are for:
  • Kaiapoi North
  • Kaiapoi South
These two reports can be found here.

A number of us are keen to understand the makeup of the ground under us so we can better appreciate what decisions are made by EQC and the government, and make informed decisions about what happens to our homes.

Trying to contact EQC over this is unlikely to produce results so I have asked CanCERN for assistance in getting them released. Will keep you posted.
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State Insurance - FAQ update

State Insurance have updated their FAQ which has the following headings:
  • If your home is uninhabitable
  • Emergency repairs to make your home habitable (for now)
  • Temporary accommodation
  • What to do right now
  • Alternative accommodation allowances
  • How to lodge a claim with State
  • How to lodge a claim with EQC
  • Moving contents
  • Items trapped in buildings or at a friend’s house
  • Chimney repairs
  • Financial assistance
  • Earthquake cover on new policies
  • Settlement options
  • What happens if I cancelled my policy prior to 22 February
 You can find it here.
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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Flu confusion

Initially a media report said all flu shots were free. According to reports yesterday and this morning that isn't quite so.

There is a current report that flu shots are free for those who are under 18 and over 65. This is according to news websites Scoop (here) and TVNZ (here), quoting an interview with the Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ramon Pink.

Neither the Canterbury District Health Board nor the Pegasus Health websites mention flu shots at all.
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Do you want to be in charge?

Applications have been called for the position of Chief Executive, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA).

You will find the details, and an application form, at the State Services Commission website here.
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Monday, April 4, 2011

Valuations for broken china

Ballantynes have set up a kiosk in the middle of Merivale Mall to do valuations of broken crockery and china ornaments (maybe cutlery sets too).

They will be there during mall hours for about three months. The mall hours are:
  • Monday 9.00 to 6.00
  • Tuesday 9.00 to 6.00
  • Wednesday 9.00 to 6.00
  • Thursday  9.00 to 7.00
  • Friday 9.00 to 6.00
  • Saturday 10.00 to 5.00
  • Sunday 10.00 to 5.00
The fees are very reasonable: up 10 items to $25, 20 items $50, 30 items $75, 40 items $100. An item is either a single thing such as an ornament, or a set such as a set of glasses, or a whole dinner set.

Blank valuation forms are available at the kiosk, or can be downloaded from their website, here.

PS – valuations are for modern items only, they do not value antiques (added 5 April).

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kiwisaver accounts - halting or withdrawing

The Kiwisaver scheme has provision for contributions to be halted (a contribution holiday) or funds withdrawn in cases of significant financial hardship.

If you need to have a contribution holiday (i.e. take a break from contributing to the scheme) IRD can arrange this for you. The information is on their Kiwisaver web site here.

I am not a financial advisor and claim no particular knowledge or experience with Kiwisaver. Please treat the following as informal information that you will have to investigate for yourself. The circumstances under which you can withdraw from Kiwisaver depends upon the scheme you have entered into. As a generalisation the scheme will have a provision for members to withdraw in the event of significant financial hardship. Surviving a catastrophic earthquake, losing your job, running out of money for temporary accommodation, family experiencing trauma ought to qualify. Work is being done to make withdrawing, because of earthquake related hardship, simpler, and quicker (see this NZ Herald article here).

IRD, at their Kiwisaver web site, have information on significant financial hardship which is here.

Winter flu vaccine - free

Flu shots (or jabs) are free to everyone this year.

Dr Alistair Humphrey has recommended that everyone get be vaccinated as soon as possible for two importnat reasons. The first is that with more crowded conditions (homes and schools)the possibility of infections spreading is much greater. The second relates to avoiding pressure on hospital beds whcih are already under strain.

The Christchurch Star has an article on this in the April 2 edition (p. 4) and it can be found on their web site here.

NOTE: this report has turned out to be incorrect. Follow the link here to the correct information.