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Monday, 11 April 2011

The era of the new city

Rebuilding Christchurch is not just the replacement of houses, shops and offices. While many in business will be unable to focus on anything outside of this, nor see any reason to do so, there are other equally important aspects to be considered. City and urban planning will look beyond these things to determine what should go where, how they will be connected, and what can be done with areas unsuitable for building on. Having achieved this, most will feel the job is done.

Getting this far will be only a half-job. There remains the issue of how it will operate - the regulations and bylaws that will govern the city. Those, whose interests had been well served by the way things were, will want a business as usual approach. However, not all that existed before the earthquakes was suitable. Prior to September there were a number of regulations, rules, processes, procedures and approaches that seemed inappropriate then, and appear more so now. Other factors not yet fully identified will also need consideration.

Rebuilding the city requires looking at "the plans and the rules" to ensure the mistakes, inadequacies, and short sightedness of the past are not transferred into the era of the new city; while those things that did work ought not be taken for granted. The bottom line is: when planning the material things, the values of the city must be revisited and renegotiated with the whole community.

Some improvements can be made very easily. While introducing a cultural shift for some, they are as much a change of mindset as anything else. In some cases they will involve little effort, little or no extra expenditure, and can be done quickly.

This is where CERA comes in. In their own words:
CERA will operate as a greater Christchurch organisation, because of the need to achieve local engagement in the recovery effort. It will be the lead organisation with overall control and leadership of the ongoing recovery effort.

While I am sure CERA will have an idea of how they would like to guide the recovery programme, they need to know the views of the residents of greater Christchurch. Perhaps the council and mayor will presume to know the mind of residents, and wish to speak for us (and instead of us). Rather than let them presume, we should be putting our views forward for ourselves. We can do this as individuals, as our own society, or as part of an umbrella group. However it is done, it is important that the views do go forward.

More on this in a day or two.

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