By Deon Swiggs, Rebuild Christchurch Foundation
As we reach this point of our ongoing post-earthquake journey, it is clear that there have been some major achievements over the past 1000 days.
The earthquakes have taken an enormous toll on the people of Christchurch in many different ways. Over the last 1000 days we have endured more than 10,000 aftershocks with four over magnitude 6 including the devastating earthquake of February 22nd 2011. This was the earthquake that literally broke the backbone of our city and took so many lives.
There have, however, been some of the key achievements in these 1000 days for the city including the speedy rate at which Recover Canterbury was set up to support small local businesses, the CCDU blueprint which gave our rebuild direction, the land zoning process which gave some people in the worst affected areas the ability to take a crown offer, the restart mall and other pop up temporary structures like Epic which give a place of routine while we go through the transition from recovery to the long term recovery and rebuild phase.
At Rebuild Christchurch in the 998 days of our existence, we have undertaken a number of successful initiatives which focused on the social recovery; the recovery of our people and communities. These have included putting a football field in the CBD within the red zone, hosting international delegates from Japan to strengthen ties between our recovering communities, Project Christmas supported families and what can be a really tough time for many, "Let’s Get it Done" action days assisted hundreds of people and engaged thousands of volunteers across the region. Our website www.rebuildchristchurch.co.nz has also played a key role in facilitating the flow of communication between business, government, communities and the general public, with more than 7.5 million hits and over 4 billion interactions since being established.
As we reflect, so should we look ahead and consider how we want Christchurch to be as the city of our future.
Moving forward there must be a much greater focus on people. That is not to say that the rebuilding and planning of our central city should stop or slow however people and their well-being need to be given the attention they are need and are entitled to. Rebuild Christchurch would like to see all homes that are severely damaged and leaking to be repaired before next winter. Insurance companies and EQC must walk the talk and settle claims as per entitlement, and do it quickly. People need firm timelines on when repairs to their homes will be completed and it is unreasonable for families and individuals to be waiting another 18 months or longer for their homes to be fixed.
Within the next year we would also like to see significant improvement in the number and quality of places people can gather and socialise. It is heartening to see the Terrace Project set to open by November next year and the Avon River precinct starting to come together however the local hall, for example, that remains closed with no timeframe for re-opening or repair is damaging our communities and must be addressed urgently.
It has often been said and it is true - we have a great opportunity in Christchurch, and the Government has laid down much of the foundation work for the rebuild. However the struggles in the suburbs over the last two and a half years have taken their toll and continue to do so.
Rebuild Christchurch implores the Government and all in a position to move EQC and Insurance claims forward to do so with a renewed focus and vigour.
There is great opportunity for a community led rebuild with active participation and collaboration and this we hope will see a vibrant city built into the future.
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