Christchurch Regeneration Minister refuses to release document from December Cathedral meeting

ChristChurch cathedral

The new Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Hon Nicky Wagner, has refused to release the contents of a document tabled at a 21 December 2016 meeting between Crown negotiators and Church Property Trustee representatives.

Entire pages of the document, embedded below, were redacted under the obligation of confidence and negotiation sections of the Official Information Act.

The Minister recently released various cabinet documents in relation to the Cathedral stalemate, including a 13 December 2016 cabinet paper presented by previous Minister Gerry Brownlee a week before the meeting. It recommended the approval of a $10 million payment toward the Cathedral reinstatement and a $15 million credit facility. In a Stuff article Minister Brownlee said that the offer was made in December, but diocesan chancellor Jeremy Johnson said no binding offer had been received.

 

Image credit: Robert Young (CC BY 2.0)

MBIE’s Chief Engineer on a reduced standard of earthquake repairs in Canterbury

Earthquake damaged buildingThe Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has released a 2013 briefing to the Minister of Housing Hon Dr Nick Smith written by their Chief Engineer.

The Minister asked about a reduced standard of repair for older properties “particularly in the context of Housing New Zealand [properties]”, however the Ministry’s response is still illuminating:

  • There is no reference to the Earthquake Commission Act 1993 and the standard of repair required by the Act.
  • Although a building may have been damaged, the Ministry provided a list of scenarios where “no repair is required”.
  • Minimising cost and avoiding obtaining engineering advice for individual properties were primary considerations of the Ministry.
  • The Minister was concerned with avoiding “excessive” money and time spent on earthquake recovery.

The full document is embedded below.

CERA Earthquake Recovery Strategy Youth Jam

About a month ago Social Innovation held the CERA Recovery Strategy Youth Jam at Hagley Community College because the submissions received so far on the draft Recovery Strategy were missing young people’s opinions. About 20 of us went over CERA’s Recovery Strategy for Christchurch, and as a group submitted responses to the questions posed by CERA about the strategy (we’re in the organisation spreadsheet under ‘Emerging Leaders Forum’). Excellent food was provided by The Sauce Kitchen.

These are the questions and some of our responses to them, from my notes and the spreadsheet. Longer versions of our answers are in the spreadsheet, typed up by some poor people at CERA from 49 A2 sheets.

On with the show.

Social innovation
Not us.

We’ve highlighted the most important lessons we’ve learnt since the earthquakes began – but are there others?

  • How useful technology was – http://eq.org.nz, Twitter. Use existing technology more effectively. We all have cellphones, can we take advantage of them better? The Civil Defence website was a train wreck, just a big list of updates. Radio – are we meant to listen to a specific station?
  • The definition of “essential services” is different between people. For some people public transport is essential as it is the only way they have to get around.
  • There’s a reliance on volunteers – Student Volunteer Army, the EQ map etc.
  • Neighbourhoods could be trained – have their own Search & Rescue team, they are willing
  • Only a few schools were used as Civil Defence “bases” for shelter etc. – why not use more?
  • Businesses need backup plans, be able to work away from the office. Not just technology backup.
  • Need to be careful what is used as a memorial eg. the opposite of the CTV lift shaft idea
  • Grassroot movements
  • Communities formed and came together after the earthquakes – how do we glue them together so they stick once we have rebuilt?
  • Need to record down what has happened, capture stories – library is doing this, audio recording booth at The Show
  • Emergency kit – being prepared
  • Global connectedness
  • Our ability to adapt to change

Together, do these goals describe the recovered greater Christchurch that you want? Are there other key goals we should seek to achieve?

  • Communication throughout the process
  • High speed broadband
  • Cycleways
  • Heritage buildings
  • Community
  • Sustainably manage resources
  • Environmental need takes into account
  • Better air quality
  • Better ways to get around
  • Easy to commute to city
  • Modern tram system, not heritage – light rail
  • Precincts mean you know where to go, but variety is important
  • Psychological health
  • Attracting new people
  • Living in town
  • Walking
  • Death to malls
  • Democracy, voices heard, CCC open, transparent
  • Educated community, free seminars in first aid
  • Diversity – ages, backgrounds, ethnicity
  • Unique businesses
  • Do not return to the way it was, new ideas, opportunities
  • Building community resilience
  • Disaster planning
  • Engagement between locals and tourists -> interaction, not segregated
  • Positive spontaneous stuff
  • Vibrancy
  • Sense of ownership of public space

Given demands on resources, do you support the priorities identified? [What priorities did we miss?]

  • Enabling people is important. Getting businesses back into their red zone properties
  • Youth involvement
  • Hosting major events
  • Engaged and informed public
  • Schools and education
  • Building standards
  • Innovation precinct
  • Safety and well-being
  • Economy, businesses, creation of jobs
  • Big infrastructure – stadiums
  • Focus on the word affected areas
  • Open spaces near buildings – somewhere to go if we have another quake
  • Getting people sorted, but fixing for the future
  • Safe place for youth day and night
  • Giving opportunity to voice ideas
  • Connecting the city with transport
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Acceleration as a priority is concerning – do it well
  • Decreasing reliance on infrastructure through design
  • Re-design, don’t just re-establish
  • Community
  • Being the garden city
  • Get back the old before we build new things
  • Business connection hub
  • Tourism
  • Youth input and consultation
  • Preserve heritage buildings
  • Significance of people losing their lives
  • Recreation centres/areas in residential red zones

There’s no perfect number of Recovery Plans, so if you think we need other plans tell us what and why?

  • Community – maintaining strength, each neighbourhood is unique and knows its own needs
  • Environmental, sustainability
  • Too much weight towards economic plans
  • Flooding
  • Attracting tourists
  • Emotional recovery
  • Communication. Transparency and accountability for public spending
  • Technology
  • Urban design
  • Energy, power generation, efficiency, localised, smaller scale
  • Community Education

Recovery requires confidence – of insurers, banks, developers, investors, business-owners, residents and visitors. Will the proposed Plans provide sufficient confidence for people to progress recovery?

  • If youth involved, they will build where they want to live
  • Being involved at all stages. Accountability, communication, collaboration -> confidence
  • Investors can be part of something new
  • Insurers – will they insure, pay out, how much for?
  • Community involvement gives confidence, there’s safety in numbers.
  • Red zone people lack of confidence

What will ensure decision makers deliver the recovery we want, as soon as we need it, at a cost we can afford?

  • Accountability, transparency, communication, ongoing consultation
  • Try not to displace communities
  • Use different methods to get input. Engage the city – go to the public, schools, use social media – Facebook

What else needs to be assessed when monitoring the Recovery Strategy? Are there other circumstances in which a review of the Recovery Strategy may be required?

  • If we have another disaster
  • If the community doesn’t feel involved
  • How are the strategies going to be monitored? How can people have their say?
  • Monitor prioritization
  • Adapt communications to suit different demographic.
  • Survey/monitor how well people understand and care about the strategy.
  • Opinions about the design, feel, location of buildings
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Economic monitoring
  • Ability for citizens to review the implementation of strategy. Reports that come from monitoring need to be appropriate to the audience – us
  • Can agencies/established community networks be appropriated to carry out monitoring initiatives within respective demographic eg. Otautahi Youth Council, this in turn invests in future leaders
  • If monitoring is to encourage accountability then monitor transparently
  • Reporting – ticking boxes – doing something that doesn’t actually change anything
  • Make results of monitoring easily accessible and engaging.
  • If there is another significant quake
  • If there is a change in Government there needs to be a review of their perspective on the strategy
  • If monitoring reveals dissatisfaction then time for review and change of direction
  • In the instance of a natural disaster have lessons been learnt and how can we adapt approach
  • Ongoing failure of basic utilities
  • Reluctance of private investors to participate in reconstruction‚
  • Dubious public private partnerships for recovery
  • If people do not reinvest in CBD and public does not rejuvenate city
  • Climate change is not considered
  • Young people’s educational futures

Image credit: PopTech

Red Zone Secrets

Here is something I don’t get. If it is safe for demolition workers to go through the contents of earthquaked buildings before/while/after they’re demolished, why is it not safe for the occupiers?

“Safes found during demolition – there had been only half a dozen – were either opened under police or security firm supervision, or, if they were attached to concrete, dumped.”

Why is this even necessary? Is it that hard to work out that a safe found in the rubble of building X maybe belongs to someone occupying building X? Could we build on that and guess that someone occupying building X would be able to open the safe themselves, without force, even if it is attached to concrete?

ConfidentialScarier, is that computers and files containing confidential information, in this case mental health records are 1) being “thrown out” at all and 2) if they are “water-damaged”, which doesn’t fly with me, aren’t being disposed of securely.

“The items she was most concerned about included files and computer hard drives containing personal information. Securities House, a seven-level building in Gloucester St near Latimer Square, was demolished by March Construction and Shilton and Brown in May. It housed at least nine mental health agencies.

Tenants, tipped off about the demolition, managed to stop a truck leaving the site in the rain and divert it to an empty section where the contents were tipped.

Tenants then spent the next two days retrieving files from the rubbish. The files had been in locked metal cabinets which had been emptied.

Office manager Mark Petrie said he had contacted a project manager at the time of the demolition to be told no chance existed for any records or personal effects to be salvaged.

He was told all records were water-damaged and filing cabinets rusted.

A former Shilton and Brown worker who worked on the Securities House demolition told The Press workers were told to throw files, many of which appeared to him to be in good order, in the rubbish.”

Where have some files gone? Who knows.

“Canterbury Muscular Dystrophy Association office manager Eris Le Compte, whose office was on the first floor of Community House, said she had gone to look for the 230 personal medical files she had in her office.”

Hopefully other businesses are doing better, because it’s not just a couple of buildings in the red zone that are housing sensitive information.

CERA feigns ignorance. Clearly some demolition contractors have no idea what they’re doing (or every idea of what they’re doing). If CERA has no knowledge of specific cases of important belongings going missing inside the red zone they’re obviously not doing a very good job.

“A CERA spokeswoman said CERA regularly and actively engaged with contractors who had a clear understanding of their obligations within contracts and the law.

‘We have no knowledge of the specific cases you refer to and we can’t comment on whether any allegations of loss of goods within the CBD Red Zone are attributed to contractors’ staff or some other person,’ the spokeswoman said.”

What’s been going on inside the red zone raises a number of issues businesses need to be planning for. After an event like the Canterbury Earthquake, how effective will locks, safes, and filing cabinets be at protecting valuable and confidential information through demolition and when 930+ people are left roaming in and around your building for a significant period of time?

Image credit: Jeremy Keith