Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Future of Christchurch?

The rescue operation is over. The end of recovery operation is in sight. The news media has long ended its  continuous coverage and the tone has changed from sharing our shock and reporting heroism to looking for scapegoats.

Christchurch residents are either working around the problems they are facing or are moving out of town.  Some are virtual refugees others have simply expedited already planned moves or for younger people gone on their OE to England a little earlier than they may have.

Meanwhile the centre of Christchurch is still cordoned off, but businesses have been given limited access to much of it to recover computers and vital business records. Thousands of homes have no water or sewerage and the Mayor of Christchurch used part of his press conference to talk about using chemical toilets.

Predictions are that at least ten thousand homes will have to be demolished and rebuilt and there are suggestions that entire suburbs will have to be abandoned because of the liquefaction problems so new land will be needed to build on. The Treasury has estimated that the total cost of the earthquake will be around 15 billion dollars and will take more than 4 years to rebuild Christchurch.

Meanwhile, Auckland has a large number of empty offices and shops, and builders are putting up more of these all the time only increasing presure. Every time I pass a building site, I think it would be wonderful if we could find a way to move the builders down to Canterbury, obviously someone would need to cover the out-of-pocket expenses of having them work remotely while having their homes here but I'm sure that problem can be solved.

Longer term, Christchurch will rebuild, but it's going to be a long hard slog and in the meanwhile they will need support and assistance from the rest of New Zealand.

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