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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

We need to have meetings in response to land zoning announcements

Below is the text of an e-mail sent yesterday morning to Brownlee, Sutton, Parker and co. from CanCERN. CanCERN is an organization representing a large range of community groups, including our own. 

For those affected by the Friday zoning announcements, CanCERN has asked for meetings to be held where residents can be told of the significance of what has happened, the issues and difficulties that remain, where to from here, and ask questions and get meaningful replies.

CanCERN represents us, and many other community and residents' groups in the greater Christchurch area. Failure on the part of Brownlee, Sutton, Parker and co. to cooperate with this is, in effect, ignoring the obvious needs of the community.

The e-mail was sent to Minister Gerry Brownlee, CERA CEO Roger Sutton, Mayor Bob Parker plus Michelle Mitchell, Ivan Iafeta, David Ayers, Kelvin Coe, Simon Markham, and Sandra James (click on the link to read the e-mail)

Dear leaders of earthquake recovery
The latest land zoning announcements has obviously thrown up many questions for residents and the need for reassurance and leadership is immediate. CanCERN would like to request the following to allay people's concerns;
We believe there needs to be a series of meetings and they need to be divided into 'green' and 'orange zone' people meetings. The purpose of the initial meeting for both groups would be to deliver information and provide an opportunity for residents to understand the decision making process and the implications for them as home owners. The purpose of the second set of meetings would be to address the specific questions gathered from residents at the initial meeting. These meetings would need to be within a two week time-frame of each other.
Since the June land zoning announcements, residents have forwarded to authorities many questions. These can be used as a basis for planning when trying to address the information needed at the first set of meetings. Residents must also be given the opportunity to record their questions which would be addressed at the second set of meetings.
Orange zone to green zone: Meetings need to be held within the next two weeks. Because these residents had essentially left the realm of CERA's responsibility in terms of land decisions, consenting and foundational requirements, it is appropriate that these meetings are led by the local authorities. This is an important distinction for residents who are already confused about where responsibility lies.
These meetings need to provide factual information an instill confidence around timeframes about the implications of the recent TC1-3 categories. To meet that purpose it is important that Tonkin and Taylor, Department of Building and Housing, Council consenting staff and the insurance industry are all in attendance. They must give any information they have on how decisions were made, what factors were considered and all known implications going forth. Obviously there will be many questions which cannot be answered within this time-frame so people need to know what discussions are still on the table and which decisions are still being made - essentially the next steps. There is a sense within the community that there is a lack of coordination between earthquake authorities so being able to see that everyone is working together on this issue would go a long way towards minimizing these concerns. Residents also need to be advised on what the technical categories mean for those who already have insurance offers in front of them in light of new foundational requirements.
Orange zone: Meetings need to be held within the next two weeks. These meetings need to be led by CERA as they are still under the realm of CERA's land decision responsibility. Many of these people are under great stress so there needs to be consideration given to advertising support services as well as having staff at the meetings to support those who need it immediately. This is a good opportunity to promote the Earthquake Support Coordinator service.
These meetings need to focus on changes in timelines with respect to decisions about this zone, what factors are being considered when making decisions, and providing an outline of what the options are. Most have already guessed that there is the possibility of mass remediation so it would not be in anyone's interest to ignore this discussion. It would be beneficial for people to understand all of the factors, not just the land damage. Residents are extremely intelligent and responsible people and have no desire to 'force' decisions that are not financially and socially viable.
It is important that these residents are addressed by Minister Brownlee. This is a show of respect for the fact that people have waited, many since September, and have been given very little clarity about how decisions are being made. It would be beneficial for residents to understand that the government in effect makes these decisions. This may go some way towards trying to build trust in the leaders we see in Canterbury. Tonkin and Taylor would also need to be present to reinforce land damage information and the implications they see are important for decision makers to consider.
CanCERN believes the organization of these meetings is a vital aspect of demonstrating CERA's commitment to community engagement and the principles of recovery outlined in the Recovery Strategy. As an organization, we are offering our support to the planning and delivery of these community meetings and are available to discuss this further.
Leanne Curtis

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