Christchurch has a huge opportunity to reinstate as the best garden city in the world again, as it begins the unprecedented city-rebuild after being shattered by the February 22 earthquake.
Hundreds of people at a public meeting in Hagley Park’s Horticultural Hall last night heard expert speakers strongly urge city planners to make Christchurch a better landscaped place to live.
The meeting provided a statement to planners to consider ideas for the garden city so they could deliver an environmentally sustainable re-build of Christchurch.
Christchurch was voted the best Garden City in the World in 1997 but the green has turned into concrete, asphalt, rubble, empty spaces, demolition and deconstruction since the September 4 and February 22 earthquakes.
Former Christchurch City Council parks and recreation director Neiel Drain said recent weeks had seen an outpouring of ideas, knowledge, enthusiasm and confidence that resilient Christchurch people could rebuild what had been lost.
``There is the need for a wholesome and attractive environment including adequate green open space with an abundance of trees and other vegetation sustainably managed.
``Build it better - a green city, not only for ourselves but for those who come after us. Garden City of the World: Yes, we can do it. But let’s be bolder this time. Let’s create not only a garden city, but a city within a garden,’’ he said.
Leading landscape architect Di Lucas said the garden city of Christchurch had been commandeered by vehicles. And the horticultural and greening interests needed to reclaim space from asphalt and cars in the low-rise rebuild.
She later said up to half of the CBD, especially along waterways and where badly damaged by the earthquake, would be best to have businesses more densely located amidst a framework of green corridors, cycle paths, play, food markets, entertainment and planted areas.
``More than 900 buildings are coming down in the CBD. It could be a CPD, a Central Peoples District. A funky and green place that is an attraction to live, work, study and play.”
Lucas proposed a translucent canopy spread across a block or two with modular buildings inside for high-end retail, cafes, markets and attractive indoor-outdoor areas. A light-weight suspended canopy could be a superb permanent attraction, she said.
The problem of our soft land is even more serious out east. We need to seriously look at what we should rebuild east of Barbadoes Street because so much of the land was once wetlands and is flood-prone with sea level rise.
``I support the council’s recently proposed, pre-quake sustainability proposals. But they now require proactive implementation by both public and private sectors. There has been a local under-estimation of the potential for the city council to use the Resource Management Act to plan and actually deliver a more sustainable city. It is time to stop being the recipient of change and start some positive action.
Coralie Winn who helps run an organisation called Gap Filler said Christchurch had hundreds of temporary or long-term temporary empty space which could be used to attract people back to those areas. Gap Filler started in response to the September 4 earthquake and expanded after February 22.
Winn has already organised events, concerts, art exhibitions, lunch venues, film screenings and activities in the empty spaces where buildings once stood before September.
``We as a city are beginning to embrace these temporary projects to bring life back into Christchurch. Artists had been leaving Christchurch because they had lost their jobs or workplaces but the temporary projects would keep them busy in the city.’’
See the last map which shows much Christchurch out east was swamp or wetlands in the 1850s